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Ask Bayla #1: Pesach power struggle

July 21, 2009 – 1:03 pmOne Comment

Traditionally in Jewish culture, knowledge and wisdom are passed down from the elders to the younger generation.  Together with a historically higher than average literacy rate, this has been one of the keys to Jewish success in education, business, and life learning.

At Galus Australis, we are concerned that our community has forgotten the importance of utilising the wisdom of our elders.  That’s why we’re doing something about it!  We’ve recruited a genuine Zaida, as well as a Tante, to answer any questions our readers might have.

So for those of you who have any questions on any topic whatsoever, please direct them to either Izzy (izzy@galusaustralis.com) or Bayla (bayla@galusaustralis.com), and they’ll be only too happy to tell you what to do. Or where to go.

Dear Tante Bayla,

For the past twenty years, my father-in-law (let’s call him Motek) has been responsible for running our pesach seders. The seder is a contentious ritual in our family – Motek favours a speedy, cut-through-the-maggid-to-the-fressing bit, as does my husband, J. I prefer a more philosophical and intellectual approach; drawing from various haggadot as well as readings from secular-Jewish and non-Jewish sources. My brother-in-law is quite frum and likes a very traditional, Orthodox (and long) seder. My sister-in-law, like Motek and J, just wants to eat ASAP (but I think she’d like all of our our children to participate more).
Anyway, dear Motek is getting on in years and recently announced his abdication from the Head of Seder post. He feels it’s time to pass the role on to the next generation. I can see conflict brewing, come pesach-time. How do we find an amicable way to resolve our differences?

BaSeder, East St Kilda, VIC

Tante Bayla

Tante Bayla

Dear BaSeder,

So, “dear Motek is getting on in years”, is he? Oh, you can barely contain your glee, BaSeder. Admit it! Finally, the alte kaker has bowed out. A power struggle forming! This is your big opportunity to come out on top! And there’s a lot at stake, too – shalom bayis, boredom, plagues, continuity, tradition, whinging children, religious differences, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, getting to eat your kneidlach before midnight.
BS (hmm), this is a matter of urgency – spiritually, politically, etc. Though you’ve couched it in much more PC-language than I would have – shkoyach! That does, however, say something about the sort of seder you’d run, and I’ll be frank – it’s not my cup of salted water. I’m a Motek sort of gal at heart. After many, many years of seders (of all sorts of ideological and religious affiliations and permutations), I get it. We were slaves, The Almighty redeemed us, now we’re free, let’s all hold hands and talk about Darfur for ten minutes, etc. These days, I just want to eat my roast chicken and gefilte fish and make Masterchef-esque looking korech structures from multiple layers of charoset, lettuce, matzah and maror.
Having said that, I admire your noble, post-modern proclivities. I get where you’re coming from. As far as I can see, there is only one fair way to resolve a power struggle in our post-modern, self-referentially ironic, inter-webzy world: a reality-TV style competition. Truly, is there any greater arbiter of cultural value today than a child with a mobile phone, opposable thumbs and a working television? NO! (Your sister-in-law will love it!) Picture it: SederMaster Australia. A cook-off, read-off, learn-off, source-gathering-off SPECTAC. A different contestant eliminated each week. The process would culminate in a epic, six-hour seder-off, with the winner crowned SederMaster by the children in the family until death (or senility)!

I love it. I’m on shpilkas. Someone get me The Shtick on the phone.

Tante Bayla

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One Comment »

  • Seder Macher says:

    I am the Motek of my family and have been conducting the seder for many years. I like to consider it a benevolent dictatorship – my family tell me their suggestions, I kindly ignore them. They must all be chomping at the bit waiting for me to cark it, however, I will stand firm. No artsy-fartsy, hand-holding, egalitarian mumbo-jumbo at my seder table. Just give it to me by the book, followed a good roast chicken prepared by my good wife.

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