Why Passover is the Greatest Holiday of All Time


Why Passover is the Greatest Holiday of All Time

more than the fourth glass of wine
in a family that gets drunk off two

more than the smirk you throw
at your older brother
when you recite the tenth plague,
the killing of the first-born

more than hiding the afikomen
in the exact same spot you found it
fifteen years earlier:
behind the closet door,
under the board games,
stuffed inside a box of tissues so old
it might actually be the same box

more than your Aunt Fran
sitting at the head of the table
like the orange on the Seder plate
so natural you didn’t even know
that’s not how it always was

more than your mom
adding a new section to the Haggadah
called the Ten Modern Plagues:
1. Unemployment.
2. War for Oil.
3-10. The Real Housewives of New Jersey

more than opening the door for Elijah
for all the poor and the wandering
for Uncle Steve fresh out of rehab
sipping his grape juice quietly in the corner

more than the matzah
the bread of the slave turned sprinter
in the race out of Egypt,
but damn that shit tastes good
with cream cheese and jelly
so pass me another piece of exodus

more than next year in Jerusalem
this year for Palestine
land and peace and falafel for all

more than your Grandpa’s laugh
that you can still hear
even five years after he passed over
he’s still there at the head of the table
right next to Aunt Fran
his laugh the loudest liberation
your ears have ever known

more than the question of the night,
wondering what Moses would do
with the pharaohs of Wall Street?
would he part Manhattan’s skyscrapers
like the sea, drown the bankers
in a golden river of gelt?
or would he worship them like idols
ask them for a grant to cover the costs
of forty years in the desert?

this is the last supper
and the first freedom song
the bitter history
and the sweet charoset
the awkward Hebrew
and the rowdy English
thirty Jews around a Chicago table
interrupting each other louder than Ditka

the four questions
and the four thousand answers
the four sons and the rebel daughter
the fourth and fifth and sometimes
ninth glass of Maneschevitz

but more than all of that
Passover is the greatest holiday of all time
because of its story,
its lesson of glory that we tell every year,
repeat over and over again throughout the night,
the core of who we are as a people,
if we are a people with a core:

We were once slaves in Egypt.
Now we are free,
but no one can be free
until all people are free.
So tonight we rededicate ourselves
to the liberation of all people.

And let us say: