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The Feast

The Feast


Editor's note: This is an old Jewish story/joke/metaphor. Versions abound. My favorite is Tuvia Bolton's rendition:

There were once two beggars who used to go around begging together. One was Jewish and the other a gentile. As the night of Passover approached, the Jewish beggar offered to help his non-Jewish friend get invited to a seder (the festive Passover meal accompanied by many commandments and rituals) and get a good meal. "Just put on some Jewish clothes and come with me to the synagogue. Everyone brings home poor guests for the seder. It's easy, you'll see."

The non-Jewish beggar happily agreed. On the first night of Passover they went to the synagogue, and sure enough, both got invited to different homes for the festive ceremony.

Hours later they met in a predetermined place in the local park. But to the amazement of the Jewish beggar, his friend was blazing mad.

"What did you do to me?" He shouted. "You call that a meal? It was torture!! It was hell! I'll pay you back for this—you'll see..."

"What do you mean? What happened?" the Jew asked.

"What happened? As if you didn't know! You Jews are crazy—that's what happened! First we drank a glass of wine. I like wine, but on an empty stomach... My head started spinning a bit but I figured that any second we would begin the meal. The smell of the food from the kitchen was great. Then we ate a bit of parsley. Then they started talking, and talking, and talking. In Hebrew. All the time I'm smiling and nodding my head as if I understand what they're saying—like you told me to—but my head is really swimming and hurting from the wine and I'm dying of hunger.

"The smell of the food from the kitchen is making me insane, but they don't bring it out. For two hours they don't bring anything out! Just talking, and more talking. Then, just what I needed.... another cup of wine! Then we get up, wash hands, sit back down and eat this big wafer called matzah that tastes like newspaper, leaning to the left (don't ask me why...). I started choking, almost threw up. And then finally they give me this lettuce, I took a big bite and wham! My mouth was on fire. My throat! There was horseradish inside! Nothing to eat but horseradish! You guys are crazy....

"Well, I just got up and left. Enough is enough!"

"Ah, I should have told you." replied the Jew. "What a shame! After the bitter herbs is a glorious meal. You suffered so long; you should have just held out for a few more minutes...!"

The editor again: Jewish history is a seder. We've had our appetite teased with small moments of triumph. But mostly we've had "bread of faith" that our palates can't really appreciate. And generous helpings of bitter herbs.

The lesson? Two thoughts come to mind. You need patience to be a Jew. And since we've swallowed the maror already, we might as well hold out one minute longer and get the feast...

A popular teacher, musician and storyteller, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton is co-director of Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and a senior lecturer there.
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Anonymous April 27, 2016

yeah. the marror was ok and I knew it was coming as I am Jewish and knew the seder before it started. no comparison to the terrible, cruel, inhuman, horrible, long, no words to describe painful, exile of the Jewish people. Reply

Jacquelyn Jackson Iowa April 26, 2016

Great story! I don't always comment, but I look forward to reading all the meaningful articles! Thank you. Reply

A brother Brooklyn April 29, 2013

This story is from Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. Great story. Reply

Mika'yahu Brookland, Arkansas March 24, 2013

Put a smile on my face (: I am looking forwards to Pesach with my Jewish community family. Reply

Anonymous shamokin, PA April 15, 2008

The Feast And since we've swallowed the maror already, we might as well hold out one minute longer and get the feast...
You mean the Messiah? That is the hope... Reply

Anonymous December 24, 2007

Nahman of Breslov Reb Nahman stories are really amazing. Reply

Yoka Bazilewich Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida,USA via March 31, 2007

The Feast This is such a funny story I will have to tell my students about it.
Thanks for the great laugh. I like the old stories the best most of the time. Reply

Grethel Jane Rickman Swannanoa, NC/USA March 28, 2007

The Feast I absolutely loved this one!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!! Reply

Yaakov via March 28, 2007

Spiritual Sustenance Here's another view. Were the wine and the matzah and the lettuce and the maror really all that bad? It depends on one's frame of mind. There is a midrash that the manna could taste like anything, yet the gluttonous Israelites rebelled (Parashat Behaalotecha). Knowing that any and all foods are the result of Hashem's providence should make all of them taste divine, so to speak. Reply

sahidha harrison April 20, 2005

Loved it! Reply

Helga Hudspeth April 18, 2005

Rabbi Bolton, thank you so much for this so very funny and yet so very serious story. Reply

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