1. Let’s try this — though I think it may be the kind of URL that doesn’t work here. Or it may be personalized, and subject to limited free views. Oy!

    From the New Yorker online today. The caption doesn’t seem to be in the image; it was

    “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

    including the quotation marks.

  2. I’m an agnostic goy, and I *love* this cartoon.

    Best Passover wishes to all of the appropriate, or even arguably inappropriate, folks reading this.

  3. Carl, doesn’t Elijah always appear in person?

    In fact… We had a virtual seder this evening (using Zoom), and Elijah showed up in eight homes in six states similtaneously.

    This is what happens when Passover, 2020 technology, and the Coronavirus all collide.

    Mitch’s cartoon was particularly apt: we had 15 adults, and one 6-year-old girl.

  4. Wait a minute. If all you can see is the floating face mask, does that mean he doesn’t have anything else on?
    P.S. For that matter, are there rules covering kosher clothing? I suppose horsehair jackets and anything made of boar bristles would not qualify.

  5. Kilby, I work under the assumption that Elijah, and whatever he normally wears, is spectral, but if he picks up (or puts on) something new, something from the physical world, that would remain visible.

    Granted, I have neither Biblical nor rabbinical corroboration for this.

  6. @Killby,

    P.S. For that matter, are there rules covering kosher clothing?

    Yes. Clothes that mix two fiber types (shatnez) are specifically forbidden by the Law (based on Leviticus 19). The Orthodox have specific religious inspectors who will certify clothing as permissible, just as kosher food inspectors certify that food products are legal. (“Kosher” in fact translates from Hebrew as “legal, lawful”, just as halal is in Arabic.)

  7. Am I the only one who finds “Happy Passover” a little macabre? It wasn’t very happy for the firstborn sons of the Egyptians.

  8. That’s actually covered in the Hagaddah: “But do not rejoice, because the Egyptians are my children too.”

    (Or words to that effect: I didn’t memorize it.)

  9. Powers — we have one bit in which we take a little wine out of our cups for each plague, to remind us that our joy is diminished because others suffered at the same time. Still, our own journey from slavery to freedom is happy. Yes, what you’re saying is true. But it’s not the primary purpose.

  10. Also forbidden are some fabric blends, specifically linen and wool.

    I once worked on an educational-computing summer project involving a group of Jewish educators. I told my boss that I was having trouble installing a Front Page web service on our Red Hat server. But that the client would understand, as it was forbidden to mix Linux and Windows.

  11. I had a virtual Seder yesterday, and was surprised how nice it was to “see” everyone else for Passover.

    Bill, you must have a nicer Haggadah than the one’s I’ve used. Every Haggadah that I’ve used (only 2-3, though), gives thanks in the Dayenu for destroying the Egyptians, and killing their first-born. IIRC, it’s the Maxwell House Haggadah that has a long section about how “God is so merciful,” which it illustrates by saying things like “God is so merciful, thus did he smite the Assyrians,” and “God is so merciful, thus did he wipe out the Moabites.” Makes sense historically, but was a little jarring the first time I heard it (in my mid-20s).

  12. I’m pretty sure the line is in the Midrash.

    The Midrash, very simply, is a collection of Biblical commentary and interpretation. To put it in contemporary terms, it’s like Star Trek fiction that’s not officially canon, but is consistent with canon and is generally accepted as having happened.

    Imagine a council of rabbis spending years debating why Spock joined Starfleet, dissecting every line of canonical information.

  13. Re: endless dissecting

    My daughter just read a children’s Passover book about families that have to decide what to do after they’ve supposedly cleared all the bread products and other forbidden foods from the house, but then see a mouse running through the house with a crumb of bread in its mouth. Do they assume that’s really the last piece? Or does it necessitate an all-new, time-consuming, house cleaning project? The book then delves into a number of more detailed questions. e.g. What if the white mouse runs into a hole with bread, and later a black mouse runs out of the hole with bread? Can you assume that’s the same piece of bread? etc, etc, endless questions and discussion, that will not come as a surprise to those familiar with the Talmud and Midrash.

    My daughter found the conclusion of the book hilarious, if baffling: they consult a rabbi, who says these are all real questions debated in the Talmud, but they’re all undecided.

  14. @ WW – “…the Maxwell House Haggadah that has a long section about…”
    I was really expecting the second half of that sentence to say something about “…how to brew a cup of kosher coffee.

  15. Yonkers always makes me think of what must be Ira Gershwin’s absolutely worst rhyme:

    “Who cares what banks fail in Yonkers,
    Long as you’ve got a kiss that conquers?”

    He spent half the night either saying “What rhymes with conquers?” or “What rhymes with Yonkers?”, I don’t know which.

    Now if it were me, I would have written:

    Who cares what banks fail in Yonkers,
    Long as she doesn’t have to bonk her-
    Self on the head, life is one long jubilee, etc.

  16. I don’t know if this is in the Midrash, and I forget where I read it, but it seems there was a group of rabbis who were having a very heated discussion of some point of doctrine. Rabbi Moishe argued it one way, and then Rabbi Avram gave a rebuttal that went against every point, and then Rabbi Max had his own interpretation and so on.
    Suddenly the ceiling of the room split in two, revealing the sky and clouds overhead, and a tremendous voice like a hurricane came from the sky saying “Rabbi Avram is correct!”

    The rabbis yelled in unison, “NOBODY ASKED YOU!”

  17. @ MiB – Were you aware of the British meaning of the word “bonk” when you placed that hyphen?

  18. Kilby, that did not occur to me, even though “bonk” has such a meaning here too.

    I don’t know if I could make that one work, because you still have to get the “s” there, which you can with “bonk herself on the head” but not so easily with “Long as you get a chance to bonk her.”

  19. @ MiB – There’s no need to rewrite anything, the original version worked fine, because when I first read it, my eyes mistook the hyphen for a period. That made the second line seem much funnier, but when I couldn’t parse the “separate” sentence in the third line (after all, it began with a capital “S”), only then did I figure out that the character at the end of the second line was a hyphen. Ooops.

  20. Winter Wallaby – My parents belonged to Conservative congregation when I was going to Hebrew School. (There are 3 main groups – Orthodox – including Ultra Orthodox which follow all the rules and minutiae. Conservative – services mostly in Hebrew and assume that everyone keeps kosher. Reform where a good deal of the services are in English and think you should be kosher, but don’t assume that you are. The last being an American invention.)

    So I was told that we should get rid of all of the food not permitted on Passover from the house before it starts, but if the family did not, then the cabinets, etc. that the non- Passover food, dishes, pots, etc was in should be tied closed so that one did not take any items out of them by mistake. So I went around the kitchen and tied my mom’s cabinets together for her. Only my family did not change out for Passover – no bread eaten and lots of Passover “delicacies” but also the other food was used and the every day dishes, etc were used other than at the Seder where the good china and related were used – but even they were not special for Passover. A year or so later we changed to the Reform congregation. I have never been sure if mom having to get her cabinets unknotted was part of the reason – or it was just that she liked the prayer books in English better. (Dad comes from a line of Orthodox rabbis in the old country – there is a small book about them, but none of us could find it to keep it when the family home was taken apart this past year.)

  21. Bill – sorry to break it to you – Elijah does not come every year – that is the dad or mom shaking the table with their leg to make it look like he is drinking the wine. 🙂

    Actually he does not come every year – when he comes it is suppose to be in advance of Messiah coming and we are still waiting for him.

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