4.24.2008

Pesach time down South

I was in Washington, DC for the first few days of Pesach, as well as the Thursday night, Friday, and Shabbat preceding Pesach. I was there visiting my sister, who lives there, as well as my aunt, who was in town from the West Coast. On Friday, I went to Safeway twice, CVS twice, and the hardware store once, and then made tsimmes and asparagus and broccoli. Oh, and I also snuck in a haircut, which was exciting because I despaired of finding the time for that vain and not precisely necessary pre-Yom Tov indulgence. All in all, I would say that I got off quite easy, since we were hosting the first seder and two other Shabbat/Yom Tov meals. (I was still totally and utterly exhausted from all of this, coming as it did on the heels of taxes and what little Pesach cleaning I managed to do, as well as shlepping down on the bus. The good news is that the government owed me about $40 more than I owed it.)

I went to the hardware store in search of an inexpensive pot for boiling water. My sister owns only fleishig [meat, or meaty if you're a Brit] pots for Pesach, and my aunt, the coffee devotee, needed something in which to boil water that would then be used to make coffee to which milk would be added. Hence, my quest.

The clerk at the hardware store questioned my desire to purchase "the cheapest pot you've got," so I (stupidly?) explained that I just needed it for Passover and it didn't need to be anything fancy, just something that would boil water.

"Oh, Passover!" he said. "Where are you going to get the blood?"

"The blood," I thought, rapidly calculating in my head the number of steps to the door, and envisioning a modern-day blood libel erupting right there in Dupont Circle.

Hoping he hadn't said blood at all, I said, "Uh, pardon?" with one eye still on the door.

He said, "You know, the blood to put on the door posts so God doesn't smite you!"

"Oh, that!" I chuckled, a little less nervously, no longer fearing for my life. "You mean the Pascal lamb and all of that? We don't do that anymore. That's just in the Bible."

I was never so happy to misunderstand someone in my life!

After first claiming that $18 was the cheapest pot he had, I probably justified any negative non-blood-libel-related stereotypes he had of Jews and pressed him further, until he came up with a $12 pot. (I later found one for $9.50, but decided it was better to get the two-quart pot for $12 than the one-quart pot for $9.50.)

Bonus links--get a head start for next year or find interesting things to share at your upcoming Yom Tov table!:
Enjoy, everyone, and chag sameyach! (Or happy holidays!)

5 comments:

Dave (Balashon) said...

Have you read "The Year of Living Biblically" by AJ Jacobs? Fun book - and maybe the guy in the store had read it as well...

whattoexpect said...

Finding you from Mother in Israel. What a story - at least it wasn't the worst kind of blood myth. :)

QuietusLeo said...

This story illustrates perfectly the advice (which I never follow BTW) that if you get mad, before you open your mouth, wait, take a breath, calm down, and then speak.

Ariella said...

To follow up on Dave's comment, my husband just read that book and told me about the author putting blood on his doorpost for Pesach. Of course that not only isn't done anymore but was only for Pesach Mitzrayim. This guy also builds a sukkah for Sukkoth . . .in his living room. But, despite his ignorance of halacha, it seems his sons get a proper bris milah.

BZ said...

I read the book too and found it entertaining. The issue isn't "ignorance of halacha" -- he states that he is intentionally following the biblical text literally even when he is well aware (e.g. blood on the doorpost) that later Jewish practice doesn't follow it.