Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Yin Yang of Pesach

During the Seder, one is instructed to drink four glasses of wine. At the Seders I attend, people rarely comply with the full prescription--perhaps ritualistically pouring a little bit in each time it is instructed but never/rarely drinking to the bottom of the glass. The point, I think, though, is that one should end up tipsy. What other state could one be in after four whole glasses of wine? I am now thinking (just having attended two Seders) that the wine is meant to open the participants up not only to the celebration and the idea of liberation but to a mind-altered state in which one might have a virtual-reality experience of the liberation/exodus. So many parts of the Seder are meant to prod and poke one toward reliving that ancient past--the bitterness of the bitter herbs, the sweetness of liberation, the mortar of the pyramid-building, the saltwater tears, the bread of affliction. It's actually kind of Proustian--the idea or hope that a whole world, a recapturing of lost time, could emerge from a particular scent and taste (in Proust's case, his childhood emerging from the combination of madeleine and lime-flower tea).
     At any rate . . . to the yin yang part of the story. One year, my husband and our friend Deborah and I started a little game at the Seder in which we repeated the following sentence, filling in the blanks in as many ways as possible, with as many potentially merged Seder symbols as possible.
     We drank so much that we couldn't tell the -------- from the --------.
     For example, we drank so much wine that we couldn't tell the bitter from the sweet.
     We drank so much that we couldn't tell Moses from Pharoah.


We drank so much that we couldn't tell wicked from the wise.
We drank so much that we couldn't tell the wine from the water.

We drank so much that we couldn't tell the plagues from the blessings.

And we drank so much that we couldn't tell freedom from slavery.

And that's how it went that year.


 

6 comments:

Jim Poznak said...

We drank so much we could not tell the Hebrews from the Egyptians. We drank so much we could not distinguish our friends from our foes. We drank so much we were no longer discomforted by diversity. All laudable reasons to drink four glasses of wine.

Susan Messer said...

Oh, yes. Thanks for the additional yin-yangs.

Margaret P. said...

We drank so much we could not tell our heads from our...anything!

Susan Messer said...

Yeah, Margaret. I like that idea. Mix it up. Too much thinking can cause trouble.

Deborah Adelman said...

We drank so much we could not tell our next-day hangover from the normal fog of everyday existence.

Since I drank those eight glasses of wine with you over 24 hours -- 4 on Saturday and four on Sunday, and I poured generously!! -- I can attest to the total truth of this statement.

Love the attached images. Would be hard to choose between Moses and Pharoah. Pharoah has better pecs though. I like Moses' beard.

Susan Messer said...

Oh, I'm laughing my head off about the next-day hangover vs. the normal fog. Agreed about Pharoah's pecs. Even a slave might be willing to stick around for those.