Tonight is the first night of Passover, which marks the commemoration of the Israelites exodus from slavery in Egypt. It's my favorite holiday for one primary reason: The whole point of the holiday, to me, is to remember that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt and therefore slavery anywhere is empirically our concern. It reminds us to help those who do not share our physical, economic or spiritual freedom and bounty today--right now.
The other, less rabbinically-authorized reason I like Passover is that it is the quickest 5 pounds you will ever lose. Trust me. Passover is The Original Atkins Diet. No leavened foods: No bread. No cereal. No beer. No pasta. No oatmeal. No cookies. Nada. It's 8 days and nights of protein-tastic livin'.
Now, be assured, you can also GAIN 5 pounds during passover if you satisfy your hankering for coconut macaroons, brisket for breakfast or flourless chocolate cakes. But how much of that can you really eat when all you really want is a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter at 7am? So what I end up eating is eggs for breakfast, salads with chicken for lunch, and some meat-heavy dish for dinner. And buh-bye 5 pounds.
The real key to surviving Passover (at any weight), however, is to lay off the matzoh. Matzoh symbolizes the fact that the Israelites had to quickly escape from Egypt and did not have time to let their dough rise. Sounds meaningful, which it is. But here's a news flash for those of you not in the Passover scene: you won't be doing *anything* quickly after a few boxes of those harmless-looking crackers. You see, matzoh helps in driving home the point of Passover that we were not always living such lives of freedom and leisure, with its...erm..well...its "binding" properties. If you want to taste the "bread of affliction" then eat a box of matzoh. You will not be "running" anywhere. Trust me. It will be long days and nights of rigorous pondering of all the blessings you usually enjoy when your colon is appropriately fibered.
I tell you this not to be gross, although that would be a good enough reason, but to simply prevent you from suffering the same deleterious effects I did in 1999 when I went crazy eating matzoh with everything, substituting it wherever a bready item was called for. Matzoh in the morning, matzoh with the salad at lunch, brisket on matzoh, matzoh with butter and cinnamon sugar, I could go on and on. But "go" I did not--for days and days. It was ugly and uncomfortable and worrisome because I had just seen the Seinfeld rerun where Kramer "misses his window" and needs an enema. I spent the final 5 days of the holiday praying for peace for all peoples, freedom for those oppressed, religious harmony for all...and for one, simple, Passover Poop.