Pesach Day 1—Shabbat, April 20, 2019—15 Nisan 5779

Pesach Day 1—Shabbat, April 20, 2019—15 Nisan 5779

Scene: Land of Goshen, the Israelite Neighborhood of Egypt. Moses is examining every dwelling to make certain that all is in keeping with the LORD’s commands. He is accompanied by one Lieutenant Djer, of the Royal Egyptian Cavalry, “Vision of Ibis” Regiment, Commanding. Moses is hale and hearty, eager to fulfill the Lord’s dicta, in order to free the People from 400 years of Egyptian Slavery. Lt. Djer is there to observe, and later report to his generals, that the Hebrews were behaving themselves.

Moses: I cry you all to gather, O Elders of Israel! Come unto me, and hearken to the Word of the Lord!

Lt. Djer: Why do you not sound a sennet on ceremonial or military horns? That is how we do it in the cavalry.

Moses: We favor the Old Ways, Lieutenant. Gather, gather unto me, all ye Elders!

Djer: Hm. It does appear to be irregular and inefficient. It surely wouldn’t be acceptable to our cavalry.

Moses (sardonically): I believe that our God has plans for your cavalry, Lieutenant.

Djer: Plans? What plans? Whatever are you talking about, Moses? By the rays of Ra, ever since you denounced your Egyptian identity and became an Israelite peasant, it’s almost impossible to carry on a simple conversation with you.

(Meanwhile, the Elders have come, and form acircle around Moses and Djer.)

Eldad, a Senior Elder: We are here at your command, O Moses! Tell us what to do.

Moses: Let each family kill a Passover Lamb.Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the lamb’s-blood, and smear the blood over the door, lintel, and the two mezuzote, the side-posts of every Israelite dwelling’s door (Drops his voice so that the Egyptian Djer will not hear). For the Lord will pass over the Israelite houses, and smite only the Egyptians, or those so foolish as not to have smeared the blood, before the Plague arrives. Simple enough, hey? And the Lord will work for you all yet another miracle, for you are His People, the apple of His eye!

Medad, Eldad’s Brother: Um—Moses—

Moses: What’s that? Can you not follow such easy instructions?

Medad: Well, you see, it’s just that—well, we’re vegetarians. We don’t eat meat. Fact is, my little ones get nauseous if they even smell roasted meat. Is there, perhaps, some way to work around the Paschal Sacrifice?

Moses: This is a conundrum. Can you not borrow blood from a neighbor, or your brother Eldad?

(The Elders mutter among themselves: “Well, what nerve! How dare that Medad rebel against the works of the Most High!” And another: “I don’t agree. My wife and I have been thinking about going vegetarian for some time. Perhaps now is the time, given by God.”)

Moses: Medad, Elder of Israel! How do you propose to fulfill this most sacred commandment, given to you by God?

Medad: Well, my wife Sophonisba and I were talking, and we propose using a beet. It’s red; it has juice, and it will color the door nicely, if we mix it with a bit of matzo meal.

Djer: Moses! Why do you not strike down this rebel? Only by obedience can you hope to create a people. Here: you may borrow my sword. Kill this Medad now!

Moses: No, Lieutenant, that is not the way we do things among our people. We debate, and argue, even to the point of anger. But we always part as friends.

Djer: I cannot abide such milquetoast behavior! I must leave. This is all going into my report (He exits).

Moses (to Medad): Tell me again about your Beet Proposal. Perhaps we can save the lives of many lambs this first year.

(Medad nods happily at having his proposal accepted. Other Elders mutter beneath their breath: “God will never settle for a vegetable over good, honest meat!” “Oh, I’m not so sure of that—for God is compassionate, is He not?”)

Moses: Silence! And now, go ye forth and execute the Word of the Living God. Tell all the People that you see, and let them smear a beet, or slaughter a lamb!

(Exit the Elders.)

Rabbi David Hartley Mark is from New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended Yeshiva University, the City University of NY Graduate Center for English Literature, and received semicha at the Academy for Jewish Religion. He currently teaches English at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, and has a Shabbat pulpit at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach. His literary tastes run to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stephen King, King David, Kohelet, Christopher Marlowe, and the Harlem Renaissance.

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