OMG, Aurora, you gave me a good laugh this morning! Matzo balls are dumplings made out of the crumbs of matzo, or unleavened bread, because–or so the Passover story goes–the Jewish people had to flee quickly from Pharaoh and his army to escape slavery in Egypt–they didn’t have time to let the bread rise before they baked it. (They then wandered for 40 years in the desert on the way to the Holy Land with many misadventures along the way, including receiving and destroying the 10 Commandments once only to get a revised version when they learned to behave themselves better–one wonders how that matzo held up in all that time–but since eating matzo is kind of like eating cardboard anyway, presumably eating stale matzo would not have been a health hazard).
Anyway, I was using whole wheat matzo this year and it is significantly heavier than the bleached version, hence, yielding dumplings that were dense in the center. The reviews from my family and friends were mixed–some professed to like them (I, myself, prefer the lighter, fluffier dumpling) but all agreed whole wheat matzos are the healthier alternative. Only time and our digestive systems will tell.
And yes, that is all ego-self speak. In fact, there is a joke that the whole of Jewish history can be summed up thus: we are Chosen, we suffer, let’s teach this to our children. Oy vey, let’s eat!
Yes, all one big cosmic prank! Surely God could not care less about matzo ball density, or even whether we eat matzo balls for 8 days, or whether we re-enact this story every year to teach our children about Moses. BUT, what is important is the metaphor of the Exodus in human development terms as a reminder that we are, as humans, in a trajectory to lead us out of the slavery of ego (Egypt) towards the freedom of conscious awareness (the Holy Land). And while we may be waylaid for 40 years or even millennia to wander in the desert, God is always here, waiting for us to climb that inner mountain towards freedom.
And the real joy of Passover is that we do this as a community, over a shared story, some tears, some joy, and much body-soul-spirit sustenance.
My favorite holiday!