The book you hold before you is no ordinary Haggadah. If you’ve ever suffered through a Seder, you’re well aware of the fact that the entire evening can last as long as the exodus from Egypt itself. There are countless stories, dozens of blessings, and far too many handwashings while the meal turns cold. Now prepare to be entertained by another version of the book that’s responsible for this interminable tradition.
With this hilarious parody Haggadah from the comedic minds of Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach, good Jews everywhere will no longer have to sit (and sleep) through a lengthy and boring Seder. In For This We Left Egypt?, the authors will be take you through every step of the Seder, from getting rid of all the chametz in your home by setting it on fire with a kosher blowtorch to a retelling of the Passover story starring Pharaoh Schmuck and a burning bush that sounds kind of like Morgan Freeman, set against the backdrop of the Promised Landwhich turned out not to be a land of milk and honey but rather one of rocks and venomous scorpions the size of Yorkshire terriers. You then eat a celebratory brisket and wrap up the whole evening by taking at least forty-five minutes to say good-bye to everyone.
So gather all the Jews in your life (even the few who don’t appear to be long-suffering) and settle in for a fun way to pass the time while waiting for Elijah to show up.
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About the Author
Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize–winning humor writer whose columns and essays have appeared in hundreds of newspapers over the past thirty-five years. He has also written a number of New York Times bestselling humor books, including Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster). He is not Jewish, but many of his friends are.
An original Saturday Night Live writer, Alan Zweibel has won numerous Emmy and Writers Guild of America awards for his work in television, which also includes It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (which he co-created), Late Show with David Letterman, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award–winning play 700 Sundays, and he won the Thurber Prize for his novel The Other Shulman. Unlike Dave Barry, he has no Jewish friends.
Adam Mansbach is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Go the F*** to Sleep and You Have to F****** Eat, as well as the California Book Award–winning novel The End of the Jews, a dozen other books, and the movie Barry. His work, which has been translated into more than forty languages, has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, and The Believer and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and This American Life. Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel are his only friends.
Date of Birth:July 3, 1947
Place of Birth:Armonk, New York
Education:B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1969
Read an Excerpt
For This We Left Egypt?
A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them
By Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, Adam Mansbach
Flatiron BooksCopyright © 2017 Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach
All rights reserved.
PREPARING FOR THE SEDER
The first step in preparing your household for the Seder is to get rid of all the chametz. We do this to remind ourselves of a time when the Jewish people had a bunch of chametz around, and they got rid of it. It's important that we carry on this tradition; the Torah states that the punishment for not removing the chametz from your household is kareth, which, depending on which rabbinical authority you accept, translates to either "shame" or "death by George Stephanopoulos."
What is chametz? It is any substance that contains grain, grain-like ingredients, or grain molecules. This includes bread, pizza, crackers, fortune cookies, soft drinks, vodka, tooth whiteners, certain tropical fish, and all IKEA furniture.
Note that not all breakfast cereals are chametz. Froot Loops, for example, are made of compressed medical waste, so they're fine. Jerky is also OK, as is anything named "cheez." But you should get rid of basically everything else in your kitchen, including the appliances. You can make this into a fun activity for the children by telling them that they're going on a "chametz hunt," stressing to them that it is going to be very enjoyable. It helps if you drink the vodka first. Dispose of the chametz by setting it on fire with a kosher blowtorch, preferably outdoors.
Another fun way to involve the children in the Seder preparations is to take them with you to the supermarket for the tradition of lacham (literally, "Fistfight with Other Jews Over the Last Remaining Box of Manischewitz Rocky Road Macaroons"). The youngsters might also enjoy making up a special song to perform during the Seder. An easy and fun way to do this is to simply take a popular tune and adapt the lyrics to tell the Exodus story, as in this example using the hit song "Hello, Dolly!":
Well, hello, Dolly
Moses led the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt, Dolly
If you're planning to use props to dramatize elements of the Seder, you should assemble them ahead of time. One fun idea is to give each child a "plague bag" containing items representing the ten plagues. For added excitement, you can represent lice with actual lice, which you can obtain on Craigslist.
Finally, you might want to prepare some kosher snacks and hide them in the bathroom so you can excuse yourself from the table and wolf them down during the two-to-five-hour stretch of the Seder in which there is nothing to eat except matzah. It's OK to do this because, in the words of Rabbi Yehuda "Bud" Epstein (1864–present): "What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom."
Discussion Questions for "PREPARING FOR THE SEDER"
I'll give you a dollar if you eat every single bit of chametz in the house right now. Come on. Do it.
If you had to guess, in what decade would you say a person who thinks of "Hello, Dolly!" as a popular song was born? The 1920s? The 1910s? Earlier?
When engaging in the tradition of lacham, by what rules or moral codes is one obligated to abide? Is it permissible to punch someone in the nuts? What about braining them with a rock-hard Stouffer's Eggplant Parmigiana Dinner from the frozen foods aisle? Is it worse if you do not even intend to buy this item?
According to some scholars, it is a mitzvah to barbecue over the flames of the burning chametz. Do you agree or disagree? And why should anybody care what you think?
THE SEDER PLATE
* * *
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(parsley, celery, potato)
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(chopped apples and nuts)
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(second bitter herb for Hillel sandwich)
THE SEDER CHECKLIST
* * *
Holiday candles, but not those crappy little Chanukah ones
Carafe of wine
Carafe of Long Island Iced Tea (optional)
Seder Plate (family heirloom; if you do not have a family heirloom Seder plate, just purchase the ugliest plate you can find)
Cup for Elijah
Carafe of Long Island Iced Tea for Elijah
Travel sickness bag for Elijah
Three matzot, covered
Thing with which to cover matzot, such as a beautiful embroidered cloth, Star Wars pillowcase, or McDonald's napkin
Matzah of Hope (optional)
Matzah of Revenge (optional)
Afikomen bag (can be purchased wherever afikomen bags are sold)
Pillow(s) for reclining
Dictionary to answer question of why you can recline, decline, or incline, but you can't just "cline"
Although there are a few Kleins out there that I wouldn't decline, if you know what I mean
Salt water for dipping
Additional salt water for skinny-dipping
Empty chair to symbolize those not free to celebrate
Empty chair to symbolize those who apparently do not care enough about their families, their culture, or basic human decency to attend
Empty chair that is just an empty chair
Chairs for actual people to sit in
Cup, basin, towel for washing
That is to say, you wash yourself using these things, not that you wash them
Though probably they should be clean
But they do make it nice
Empty Jack Daniel's bottle serving as a makeshift vase OR regular vase
Haggadah for each person
On second thought, fifteen to seventy Haggadahs (this one) for each person
Person meaning every person you know
Wine cup for each person at Seder
Not sure about recovering alcoholics; probably OK
Matzah ball soup made by most-Jewish person in attendance
If no Jews are in attendance, matzah ball soup from a jar is acceptable
But it should not be eaten
Gefilte fish (wild and sustainably caught; avoid farmed gefilte fish if possible)
Actual meal containing food
* * *
WE LIGHT THE CANDLES
Immediately before the blessing over the wine ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) the woman of the house lights candles. Now, according to Jewish law, she should remember not to strike a match to light them as she is accustomed to doing when she lights the Shabbat candles, but should light the match from an existing flame.
As to exactly what the source of that existing flame should be, the rabbis are not in agreement. The revered eighteenth-century biblical scholar Yossel ben Yossel (Yossel Jr.) argued that the existing flame could simply be from a random candle that was lit moments before the lighting of the ceremonial ones. More recently, Rabbi Joachim Levitats, from his cell in a Tel Aviv prison, passionately maintained that "the flames that deliciously flare after any act of arson ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) will more than suffice" before requesting to be placed in solitary confinement so he could touch himself ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in a manner "too personal to attempt in the general population."
While lighting the candles, three prayers are recited. This number — and the rabbis are in total agreement about this — commemorates the number of sit-ups ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) that Moses did prior to the slaves' departure from the house of bondage.
The three prayers are followed by the woman of the house extending both arms, waving them in a gathering motion, and drawing them to her body before covering her eyes with her hands. The significance of the hand-waving gesture is to unite Jews around the world who are lighting candles at that time. As for the covering of the eyes, it symbolizes that the woman does not want to make eye contact with any of those other Jews for fear that some of them may want to borrow money.
The Talmud tells of Eliahu and his three blind sons, whom he led one by one into a darkened room. First was Blind Son #1, whom he asked, "How would you brighten this room?" Whereupon Blind Son #1 answered, "How the hell would I know? I am blind." So Eliahu smacked him across the face and shouted, "That is not my fault! I begged your mother not to eat the leaves from that foul-smelling plant when she was pregnant with you!"
Eliahu then led Blind Son #2 into the darkened room and asked, "How would you brighten this room?" Whereupon Blind Son #2 answered, "Back off, Dad! I am as blind as one of the bricks we used to make those ugly-ass pyramids!" So Eliahu smacked him across the face and shouted, "I am not to blame! It was your mother who gave you that pet ram who rammed your eyes when you were a toddler!"
Finally, Eliahu led Blind Son #3 into the darkened room and asked, "How would you brighten this room?" Whereupon Blind Son #3 answered, "Please give me two candlesticks and a match that has been lit from an existing flame." And a jubilant Eliahu exclaimed, "Yes! Yes! Here is that match! Now what will you do?" To which Blind Son #3 replied, "I will light these two candles and insert them into your blessed sphincter if you even think about smacking my brothers again. Now lead me out of here and get me some kosher ice cream."
THE FIRST CUP OF WINE
During the course of the Seder, we recite the Kiddush, which is the blessing over the wine, four times. This is because during the Seder, we drink four cups of wine. This is because the Seder is so damn long that the only way to get through it is, as the ancient Hebrews always said, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (as drunk as a gentile on payday).
The blessing over wine, "Blessed art thou our Lord our G-d, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine," praises the Lord, who finished the work of creation on the sixth day, so he rested and drank a lot of wine on the seventh day, which became another topic of lively debate among the rabbis at the historical "Cups of Wine Conclave" in Jerusalem, 1949.
"G-d's name is Art Thou?" asked Rabbi Menachim Fredo.
"What the hell are you talking about?" the other rabbis asked in unison.
(It should be noted that this might very well be the first time that the word hell was ever spoken by a group of rabbis in unison.)
"Well, we are blessing Art Thou our Lord our G-d, are we not?"
"We are doing nothing of the sort! If there were a comma after Art Thou it might be a different story!" yelled one disgusted rabbi.
"But as it is," they all exclaimed in unison, "you, Rabbi Menachim Fredo, have once again proved that you are not the brightest candle in the menorah on the eighth night of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, when all of the candles are lit and displayed proudly in our windows or on the lawns in front of our houses of worship" — which was most definitely the first time a sentence that long was spoken in unison by a group of rabbis.
The rabbis were so depressed from having to waste their time dignifying the staggeringly moronic utterances of Rabbi Menachim Fredo that they voted unanimously to end their conclave and revisit the meanings of cups two through four at a future time with every hope that Fredo by then would have either passed away or converted to another religion.
WE WASH OUR HANDS
One of the most oft-asked questions about the Seder is why we wash our hands so oft.
So oft is this question asked that it was actually in the final running to be one of the Four Questions, losing out to "Why do we dip twice?" in the closest vote in Seder history.
Then why do we wash our hands so often? The answer is not one of hygiene, as it is in deference to, as we say in modern parlance, delirium. After forty years under the scorching desert sun, the Israelites were totally disoriented. Whenever they asked Moses, "Have we washed our hands?" he invariably replied, "I don't remember. Let's wash them again, just to be on the safe side."
WE BREAK THE MIDDLE MATZAH
We break the middle matzah into two pieces, assuming that we can find a piece of matzah in the box that is not already broken. If you cannot find an unbroken piece, you can always whip up a new batch of matzah by following the recipe in the back of this Haggadah, but keep in mind that this may delay the actual meal by approximately two days.
It is also permissible, with a note from your rabbi, to reconstruct a complete sheet of matzah from the pieces in the box, assuming that you use a glue that is both nontoxic and kosher for Passover.
Wrap and set aside the larger piece. It is now the afikomen, the envy of all the other matzah shards in your household. The afikomen is the "dessert matzah," to be eaten at the end of the meal; the word afikomen is actually Greek for dessert. If you have any lingering doubts about how bad things were for the Israelites during their bondage and wanderings, the phrase "dessert matzah" ought to clear them right away. The smaller piece of matzah is returned to its place with the other two.
(Uncover the plate of matzah with a flourish, but not so much of a flourish that a matzah shard — this happens more than you might think — flies off the plate and puts somebody's eye out.)
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
Translation: This is the bread of poverty, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat. All who are needy, come celebrate Passover with us. Now we celebrate here. Next year may we be in the land of Israel. Now we are slaves. Next year may we be truly free.
(Fill the wine cups for the second time.)
THE MATZAH OF HOPE
(Lift a special matzah and set it aside.)
This matzah is set aside as a symbol of hope for those Jews throughout the world who are not free. We used to use a dove, but it kept crapping all over everything. This matzah is for the Jews who are not free to celebrate the Seder. They are not free to express their Jewish identity. Some of them have never even seen Annie Hall. They are not free to read Jewish books, to learn of their Jewish past, or to eat Chinese food on Christmas. Their voices have risen in pride and protest, which is ironic since yeast is forbidden during Passover. Tonight we add our voices to theirs. On their behalf, we buy extra copies of this Haggadah.
THE FOUR CHILDREN
We should teach our children about Passover by answering questions that were asked by imaginary children who were made up by adults trying to imagine what children might ask about Passover if they ever stopped looking at their iPhones.
* * *
The wise child might ask: "What are the statutes and laws and rules that Adonai our G-d has commanded us?"
We should tell this child the Passover story in excruciating detail. We should read this child the entire book of Exodus, reciting every single statute and law, including all the dietary laws such as "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk." When we are finally done answering the wise child's question, everybody will be very tired, and the brisket — which started out hot and juicy and was to be the main course of the Seder meal — will be as moist and tender as a UPS truck tire. And the wise child, if he or she is truly wise, will never ask this question again.
* * *
The wicked child might ask, "So it's okay to cook an older goat in its mother's milk?"
Not really! That was just a little Passover humor. But seriously:
The wicked child might ask: "What does the Passover service mean to you?"
The wicked child is basically saying that he or she does not consider himself or herself part of the service. We respond to this child by giving him or her a very fatty slice of brisket.
* * *
The simple child might ask: "What is this?" To this child, we respond, "With a strong hand, Adonai our G-d brought us out of Egypt." And the simple child might then say, "No, I meant, what is this thing crawling on the Seder plate?" This is an opportunity to have a group discussion about the importance of thoroughly washing the shank bone.
* * *
Finally, we have the child who does not know enough to ask a question.
We explain to this child that the secret is to take a declarative sentence, then simply reverse the order of subject and verb.
I am chopped liver.
What am I, chopped liver?
Discussion Questions for
"THE FOUR CHILDREN"
How would you explain Passover to each of the four children? Do you think you could do a better job than this Haggadah?
There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. How might thinking you are better than we are cross or not cross that line?
How would you keep the mother's milk from going bad while it waited for the young goat to age? Keep in mind that this was before refrigerators existed. Would it be worth it?
Should brisket be made with beer or wine? What about carrots? Caramelized onions? Can we all agree that prunes in brisket are disgusting?
Vito "The G-dfather" Corleone had four children:1 Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Connie. At Corleone family Seders, who do you think asked each of the four questions, and why?
Have you ever met a child who cannot ask a question? Wouldn't it be great if such a child existed, especially on long car trips?
What do we mean when we say that Adonai our G-d had a "strong hand"? Is this a poker reference? Write an alternate telling of the book of Exodus in which Adonai our G-d challenges the Egyptian sun god, Ra, and the Egyptian hippopotamus goddess of childbirth, Taweret, to a game of cards to determine the future of the Jewish people.
Excerpted from For This We Left Egypt? by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, Adam Mansbach. Copyright © 2017 Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A Note to Parents
A Note to Grandparents
A Note to Episcopalians
Preparing for the Seder
Discussion Questions for "Preparing for the Seder"
The Seder Plate
The Seder Checklist
We Light the Candles
The Seder Has a Special Order
The First Cup of Wine
We Wash Our Hands
We Break the Middle Matzah
The Four Children
Discussion Questions for "The Four Children"
The Passover Story
Discussion Questions for "The Passover Story"
The Ten Plagues
Discussion Questions for "The Ten Plagues"
Crossing the Sea
The Story of Passover: Deleted Scenes
Wandering in the Desert and/or Wilderness
Manna from Heaven
The Ten Commandments
The Golden Calf
Discussion Questions for "The Golden Calf"
The Promised Land
The Passover Symbols
We Say the Blessing for Maror
We Eat a Sandwich of Matzah and Maror
We Eat the Festive Meal
The Third Cup
Waiting for Elijah
Discussion Questions for "Waiting for Elijah"
Echad Mi Yodea
We Complete the Seder
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Funny, entertaining and possibly a tad off color! When I ordered this book, I knew what I was getting into. Dave Barry is quite likely the funniest man in America, if not the world. I have the vast majority of his books, so I had a pretty good idea concerning the humor. Then too, his co-authors, while being Jewish, are also involved with humorous sitcoms and books. They have a wicked way of matching the humor of Dave Barry! When the book came, I thought what is it with this cover? Then I remembered using Google Translate to translate something into Hebrew. The way the letters are written is from left to right. That explained things before I opened the book. I would not have purchased this book except for the fact that the humor is being written or approved by people who are actually members of the Jewish religion. They are welcome to make jokes about their traditions and religious practices because they have been through the Seder themselves. They write knowing they will likely continue to celebrate the next Passover. Even Dave Barry, who has never tried to hide that he is not particularly religious, has written about attending Seder with his wife and her family. Someone who was poking fun at someone else’s traditions and beliefs would be unacceptable to me. And you know what? I did manage to learn about the real Passover Haggada and the observation of a Seder! Even between the humorous relating of why the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, (Moses wouldn’t ask directions!) the solemn nature of this feast comes through! I give the book five stars. Quoth the Raven…
This trio is a comedy dream team. A must-read addition to your library.