July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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When Pesach ends, many Jews experience the Cinderella effect with respect to their uneaten kosher-for-Passover items. For many Jews, those brownies, cookies, kichel and mandel bread upon which many Jews relied during the chag have now become inedible. Like Cinderella’s carriage turned into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, your leftover kosher-for-Passover food essentially became shvach as soon as the holiday ended.

It is a strange and perplexing cycle. As Pesach approaches, many Jews welcome the holiday but dread the eating. To some, the Chametz deprivation is simply too extreme and unpleasant. Eventually, however, most Jews settle into the Passover experience and give into the leavened limitations and matzah madness. By mid-holiday, some Jews are on Pesach cruise-control, barely noticing or missing bread and other prohibited foodstuffs.

During Chol Ha-Moed, some Jews actually begin to savor the Pesach moment, gladly lathering their matzah with cream cheese or chocolate spread without any despair or depression. A tuna and matzah sandwich, however fragile it might be, is a welcomed sight. A hot and crispy matzah brei breakfast is a home-run, crowd-pleasing delight. A delicious, almost decadent bowl of borscht loaded with sour cream and matzah farfel is an instant hit. Not only do these and other items make Passover bearable, but they also allow consumers to delude themselves into culinary feelings of normalcy. These scrumptious meals and snacks are so well-received during Pesach that they almost prevent fulfillment of the “K’Eluhu Yatza MeMitzrayim” obligation.

But then a funny thing happens on the way to the second days. As they approach, many Jews start to develop mixed feelings as the chag’s end is in sight. While the rules during the second days are no less strict than the first, eating on the second days often is less enjoyable. Like the last few miles of a marathon, the second days of Pesach are often slow and painful as the yearning for a return to bread starts to rear its leavened head. All of a sudden, the same Pesach treats you eagerly and gleefully devoured earlier in the week now seem tired and lame, a means to an end that cannot come soon enough.

On the eighth day, as the countdown (back) to chametz nears zero, the mood and attitude further shift. Earlier in the week you would have paid a king’s ransom for some chocolate covered marshmallow twists or rainbow fruit slices. Once the chag ends, you wouldn’t touch them with Moshe’s staff. Earlier in the week, you would have sold your sibling into slavery for a box of chocolate-covered macaroons. Once Pesach is in the rear-view mirror, you wouldn’t eat those macaroons even if they rained down like manna.

This drastic transformation must be rather jarring for the leftover Pesach food. Without warning or explanation, the leftovers are rudely cast aside as valueless and useless. It must be an awful feeling. In contrast, when Chanukah is over, do we cruelly abandon leftover latkes and sufganiyot? No, we gobble them up as long as they remain fresh. When Purim is over, do we harshly jettison our leftover hamantaschen and shalach manos? No, they serve as snacks for weeks on end. When Sukkot is over, do we obnoxiously toss our etrogim? No, we turn them into jelly. The same cannot be said of most leftover Passover food, which right after the holiday is essentially ostracized and unceremoniously excommunicated into culinary cherem. It is an unfair and unjust ending for the sustenance that sustained us.

For the record, some Jews continue eating matzah, either because they like the taste/texture or they simply are sado-masochists. Leftover matzah, however, is only one component of the remaining Passover grub. In many cases, the rest of it is shunned, scorned and mocked. For example, have you ever had a friend come to your house during the summer and humorously eviscerate you after spotting in your pantry kosher-for-Pesach cereal? Have you ever baked kosher-for-Passover muffins for camp visiting day and, if yes, did your livid children offer themselves up for adoption? Have you ever signed up for a summer vacation program that offered only kosher-for-Pesach food and, if yes, did you spend that vacation all by your lonesome and shortly thereafter were you officially institutionalized? For your sake, I hope you were.

Ideally, all kosher-for-Pesach food will be eaten and not wasted, even after the holiday ends. That said, if you try serving your children frozen kosher-for-Passover pizza even one day after the holiday, prepare for a culinary coup d’état.

Final thought: Why did a person with celiac disease eat regular matzah after Pesach? He was a “gluten” for punishment.

By Jon Kranz

 

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