Festivals | Post-Halachic Stress Disorder

By the time Passover ends, We, the descendents of the ancient Israelites, inevitably succumb to what psychiatrists and rabbis have called Post-Halachic Stress Disorder.

Had we only gathered for one long seder instead of two, it would have been enough (Dayenu);

Had we only eaten matzoh for seven days and not eight, it would have been enough (Dayenu);

Had we only invited one side of our meshugennah meshpuchah to our two long seders, it would have been enough (Dayenu);

Had Cecil B. DeMille ended the damn film after 180 minutes, it would have been enough (Dayenu).

But, apparently, it’s never enough.

When May comes around, we all yearn to place our collective Yiddishe kop in cold storage for a well-deserved slumber; we must resuscitate our ruach before the High Holidays suck us into the maelstrom of atonement, fasting, and predictably, more relatives. If the omnipotent Almighty allowed himself to rest after six (moderately productive) days of work, don’t we mere mortals of flesh and bone have the right to take the summer off?

But alas, we’re Jews, and as Jews we must always remember: “The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” And He wrote this covenant upon two tablets of stone, and bestowed [read: imposed] them upon his flock at the base of Mount Sinai. (Deut. 5:1-18).

So this Shavuot on the 27th of May (the 6th of Sivan), let us all take a few moments to remember the Ten Commandments, those succinct yet memorable words that God and Moses took a leisurely forty days to engrave upon the rock of the holy mountain for us, the most chosen of nations:

 The Ten Commandments

  1. I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, into this desert, and I’m probably gonna leave you here. I strongly suggest thou have no other Gods before me, but we can workshop this at a later date.
  1. Thou shalt not make for thee an image of God or Prophet or Bovine and bow down before it, including that golden calf I see glimmering below. I refuse to share the spotlight with graven livestock – and tacky livestock at that.
  1. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy by ripping ample toilet paper well in advance.
  1. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.  Do not disappoint thy Mother even if it means violating my covenant. I know my limits.
  1. When Jesus arrives, tell the shmendrik to stay in school, get a haircut, and call his parents once in a while.
  1. Thou shalt not commit adultery [Moses – this is silly. Please fix.]
  1. Every man child shall be circumcised as a sign of the Covenant which he shall remember when he goes forth to make peepee (see Commandment #3).
  1. Covet thy neighbor’s wife and her ass at your own discretion. Leave me out of it.
  1. Thou shalt not steal nor engage in usury, but I command you to become a nation of schnorrers. Never pay retail, and never forget, there IS such thing as a free lunch for he who can kvetch.
  1. [Moses – I’m out of ideas. You’ve been “like” a son to me and a real mentsch. Pencil in a 10th commandment, and then go ahead and make up another 513*. You’ve got 40 years with bubkis to do.]

© God and Moses, Mount Sinai, 6th of Sivan 2248 (1313 BC). All rights reserved.

*MISHNAH: Why did God instruct Moses to come up with 513 commandments and not 603?  Does the Torah not contain 613 commandments, not 523?
GEMARAH: Rabbi Akiva says: Perhaps the Lord is leaving himself some wiggle room for future innovation?  Does “workshop” in the first Commandment not imply this?
Rabban Gamaliel Hazaken says: Did Moses not abuse his power?
Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah says: Did the scorching desert sun and the incessant kvetching of the stiff necked Hebrews affect their algebra?
Rabbi Judah HaNasi says: Does it really matter? We shall let our descendents brood over this.  It is time to recite the Shema and order some breakfast.  Whose turn is it to pick up the check?

 Jarrod Tanny is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina WilmingtonHis book City of Rogues and Schnorrers examines how the city of Odessa was mythologized as a Jewish city of sin, celebrated and vilified for its Jewish gangsters, pimps, bawdy musicians, and comedians.