I just spent a large chunk of my Sunday with my extended family observing Passover, and I just made it back to my computer in time last night to record our latest episode of The Skeptics Guide 5×5. I had another more colorful topic to blog about today, but I’m shelving it until next week because I ran out of time preparing for the Jewish holiday, whose ceremony and festive meal ran much longer than I expected, and frankly, I’m just too tired to finish up the subject I wanted to write about. I’ll save it for next week.
For those unaware of this ancient religious ritual, Passover is the Jewish holy days and festival commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. Anyone who has seen the movie “The Ten Commandments” knows that much of the Passover story is covered in that movie, because it focuses on the story and life of Moses and how he led the Jews out of slavery from Pharaoh Raamses of Egypt. Jewish people all over the world gather with their families to recount this story at the dinner table, reading from the book of Passover, called the Haggadah, and partaking in the accompanying rituals and festive meal, called the Seder.
There are things I like about Passover Seder, such as seeing family and friends, and the actual meal is a multiple course orgy of food consisting of delicious home-made dishes and treats that leaves no one at the table wanting for anything more. And there are things about Passover that make me cringe, such as the reading of the Haggadah and the extended length of time that the Seder takes place. I’ve been to Seders before that have lasted for three hours – that’s three hours of reading and discussing the Passover story while seated at a dinner table, only being allowed to taste small morsels of food from the Seder plate (the plate that contains the symbolic foods of Passover, such as a hard boiled egg, some parsley in salt water, some apples with cinnamon, some horse radish, and of course, dry crackers, better known as matzoh.) So that’s three hours of sitting and reading and reciting before the large meal hits the table. Talk about religious torture, but hey, if it doesn’t make you sacrifice in some way, then its not really religious now, is it.
This year wasn’t that bad, the reading probably was only 45 minutes or so. But the reading of the Haggadah at the Seder table tells about how the Jews escaped the bonds of slavery many thousands of years ago. To a certified, card carrying skeptic such as myself, it takes every fiber in my being not to stand up and say to the family: “There is hardly any scientific evidence that any of this ever took place! Lets just eat!”
While I could try to piece together all of the fallacies and lack of evidence that Jews were enslaved by Egyptian pharaohs, followed by a mass Exodus led by Moses all those years ago, I found this blog entry explaining my points much better than I could make the case. It’s a bit long, but it’s thorough, and while it is one person’s opinion on the validity of the events surrounding Passover, I find it to be convincing enough to share with all of you.
Enjoy your matzoh this week!
PS – Did anyone else see The Pope throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium yesterday? ; )