When I think Exodus, I think overpriced rainbow cake and Miami Beach. For me, the two go together like Manischewitz and Maror. I think Exodus, and I can see the women of the palace donned in Cleopatra headgear, gladiator sandals, and Moses really sticking it to Pharaoh with that famous staff of his.
I think of my own family sitting around the seder table at my childhood home dipping moist potatoes in warm salt water, eyeing that jackpot afikoman, singing the Dayenu way off-key (you know who you are), all while flipping through Artscroll’s Haggadah (I always grab the one with the pictures) to read about the kid who doesn’t know much, the rabbi who went gray overnight, and about the 10 plagues that rocked Pharaoh’s Egyptian world. Boils, frogs, blood — it wasn’t pretty. We’re talking next level acne and lice even T/Gel or Proactive couldn’t cure. Things got ugly real fast under the desert sun, ultimately leading to an uncomfortable face-off between Pharaoh and Moses, where Pharaoh was all like, “This desert’s not big enough for the both of us,” and Moses was all like, “You mess with me, you mess with G-d.”
Yet, long before the Jewish nation went off chasing waterfalls and were led to sweet redemption, there was a brave baby boy called Moses, lounging under the sun in a humble basket, and a woman with arms so long — she needed SLT, Orangetheory, and Barre to get that toned. Moses’s mother, Yocheved, and his sister Miriam, orchestrated the entire scene from behind some nearby bush (no, not that famous burning bush- this was like, some regular old shrub), so that Moses would be spared from being drowned by those Egyptian mofos.
In what can only be described as divine providence, Pharaoh’s daughter was the woman who rescued Moses and brought him to her father. (Leave it to the women to save the day). This move that would later save the nation and lead them to the splitting of the Red Sea. I guess you can say that Pharaoh planned and G-d laughed. Loudly.
But, what really happened over there in Egypt? How exactly did we get from splitting bricks to the splitting of the Red Sea? How did the Jewish people climb the rungs from torture to Torah? How did it all go down?
Crack that matzoh in half, because I’m about to break this thing down for you. Get comfortable and grab yourself a korech sandwich (the kind that doesn’t digest well) and I’ll tell you what really happened.
Here it is: The Passover story — millennial style. Shake that table, because Elijah’s on his way over and I’m about to Pass-over some age-old wisdom. You’re welcome.
The Jewish people were schlepping bricks, swatting flies, and becoming all hot and bothered taking orders from those Egyptian Pharaoh-wannabes. Sticks and stones were totally breaking their bones, and that desert sun felt like Miami Beach in July. Those women were next level tanned and not an orange streak was in sight. But they were over the whole, being punished for those wandering spies-thing and their clothes were so last century. They were ready for an upgrade. They were ready to embark on a new beginning. (New phone, who dis?). Their men were getting bored of all that Instagram husband-ing between all the, “Oh honey, there’s the perfect brick wall to take a photo of me in front of,” and “I need you to boomerang me throwing straw up in the air.” Finally, after what felt like 40 years, G-d sent Moses to Pharaoh to negotiate terms, but Pharaoh wasn’t putting out.
Moses: G-d says you must let us go so that we may return to our Homeland.
Pharaoh: The only Homeland you’ll be seeing is on Netflix!
Moses: This is your last warning before G-d punishes you with the Ten Plagues.
Pharaoh: Can’t be worse than my last wife!
Moses: The plagues will destroy you and your people. They will kill you, Pharaoh.
Pharaoh: You already kill me with your humor, Moses. Muahahahaha!
The plagues came fast and hard, and Pharaoh didn’t like G-d getting up all in his biz-nass. His skort was on wrong, he was totally flashing his advisers, and the only cocktail available was a Bloody Miriam.
The Tenth Plague:
The tenth and final plague, meant G-d had passed over the home of the Jewish firstborns, smiting only the Egyptian firstborns in a mic drop so loud it silenced all of Egypt. The plague came as an eye for an eye, reminding Pharaoh of the time he decreed all Jewish male-firstborns be thrown in the Nile, back when Moses himself was floating toward Pharaoh’s daughter in his cute little basket – riding in style down the Blue Nile. But this last plague was brutal and really shook that mean Pharaoh hard. When it was all over, that son-of-an-Egyptian was begging Moses and the Jews to get their chosen selves out of Egypt and on their way to the Promised Land. STAT.
The women packed, while the men pretended to know where they were going.
MAN: “Did you do something different with the bread?”
WOMAN: “Does this robe make me look fat?”
MAN: “It feels like we’ve been traveling on this path for 40 years.”
WOMAN: “Waze said we were supposed to be there 15 years ago! Why won’t you ask for directions!”
MAN: “Want to Netflix and chill to pass the time?”
Humble Mount Sinai was no Mount Everest yet getting there sure felt like it. They say that the end of the road is often the beginning. (You know, in that profound sort of way). The Jews received the holy Torah and for them it was hope for a new world. One where they believed in their future and of the endless possibilities.
The memories of the plagues and big bad Pharaoh may have stayed with them, but it didn’t define who they would become as a nation. Sure, they may have picked up a weird rash and those women could do with a pedicure and a wax (if you know what I mean), but they made it. There was Torah and light, and possibly bagels.
An Exodus of My Very Own:
A few years ago, in what felt like an Exodus of sorts, my husband and I moved with our family to Connecticut. We had never seriously discussed moving out of New York, but divine providence swept in and brought us into Suburbia, with promise to fulfill my soccer mom dreams and Costco “Sunday fun-days”. Lawnmowers and fenced-in backyards. New neighbors and non-existent crime. Cookies and casseroles. Okay, you get it. We left our Brooklyn attitudes at the curb to establish our traffic-free life, where recycling was hot and overgrown yards were not.
It turns out, Exodus is just about leaving something behind. Leaving someplace you’ve been to start anew is a liberation in its own merit. The distance isn’t important, it’s the journey that will tell your story. And everyone likes a good story. Even bad dudes like Pharaoh.
So, as I envision daintily sipping my fourth cup of wine with my pinky finger high in the air, a sense of gratefulness overcomes me. Our history is beautiful and meaningful; we are powerful as a nation and our strength has always been our survival. The trip over wasn’t all that easy, but is anything easy worthwhile? Every single day is a chance at redemption, isn’t it? I say yes.
Don’t let Passover pass you by. Next year in Jerusalem. At the Waldorf!