Columns - 2009

    Post-Traumatic Seder Disorder

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    Jewish law is a funny thing. Every two rabbis has three opinions, two turtledoves, and up to four sets of dishes each. (Dairy and meat, plus dairy and meat for Passover.) And their own designated Maytag man during the month of April.

    Carrying an entire printed set of the Talmud up three flights of stairs can make you think that there's no stone unturned in Jewish law. Reading any two pages from one of those books while getting oxygen on the second floor landing reinforces the thought. But there actually are omissions.

    For example, there is a popular tradition on the night before Passover to ritually search the house and cleanse it of all traces of leavened anything, including any remaining Girl Scout cookies. This practice is called Bedikat Chametz, which translates as "another thing to do, as if I wasn't cooking all week for seder already."

    But what about after Passover ends? How do we get all those matzah crumbs out of the house? Thanks to the latest translations from the long-lost Mishnah tractate Bava Gump, we now have a new practice for the night Passover ends: Bedikat Matzah.

    Bedikat Matzah must be done after sundown at the end of the eighth day of Passover. It should be done as soon as possible, but only after indulging pizza and beer which symbolizes our liberation from nearly 400 half-hours of slavery to ritual product placement sponsored by Manischewitz, Streit's, and others.

    The Talmudically derived procedure for ritually searching for matzah is fairly similar to the better-known procedure for searching for bread. Of course, there are a few differences as you'll see in this exactly translated, task-oriented procedure:

    First, ensure you have the necessary supplies: a candle, feather, wooden spoon, paper bag, a flathead screwdriver, and beer (because you can).

    Second, take ten pieces of matzah, wrap them up in paper in the vain hope that crumbs can't escape, and spread them around the room. (Before Passover you hide the bread around the entire house, but do we really need to belabor this?)

    Third, drink beer.

    Fourth, light the candle. Hold it with the feather and paper bag, without setting them on fire. Say a blessing thanking the Big G for letting us get rid of all the matzah.

    Fifth, search the entire room for matzah. Search other rooms, too. Matzah is insidious, the crumbs get everywhere. Open the machzors from seder and use the screwdriver to try in vain to scrape the matzah crumbs from the previous ten years out of the pages near where the meal starts.

    Sixth, don't talk while you search. (Consider this non-task akin to a "don't do" mitzvah.) You'd likely mutter profanities about all the crumbs and not liking matzah, which could lead to taking the Big G's name in vain.

    Seventh, drink beer.

    Eighth, put out the candle, scrape the melted wax off your hand, and put it all along with the feather and spoon in the paper bag. Again, don't let it catch on fire.

    Ninth, put the bag in the kitchen with the leftover boxes of matzah and other Passover products that you couldn't bear to make it through this year.

    Tenth, drink beer.

    Eleventh, acknowledge that the search you just did was symbolic and utter the following: "All unleaven, anything unleavened in my possession, and anyone still under the table from seder named Levin, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth that it tastes like."

    Twelfth, drag Levin out from under the dining room table and drink beer with him.

    Of course, nine days ago when you did a similar search before Passover, you might have symbolically sold it all to a non-Jew. Whether you didn't actually give it to them, or if you did and they ate the last of your Girl Scout cookies, you now sell them all your leftover matzah and other Passover victuals.

    They will consider this a great bonus. After all, non-Jews are the only people on the planet known to like matzah.

    If they grew up required to eat it for eight days a year, they'd know better.

    And if they didn't eat all your Girl Scout cookies after all, when you give them the matzah include a laxative. They earned it.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who still considers Passover the crumbiest holiday of the year. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.