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...