Welcome back to “How Should I Know?” – the only column where you can send any question about Pesach and know with absolute certainty that you’ll probably have to send it somewhere else too.  I hope you made copies.

 

Dear Mordechai,

My mother-in-law asked me to plan a trip for Chol Hamoed. I was thinking Passaic would be a good idea, especially if we can get a tour of your house. It sounds very exciting from all your articles. Would you be the tour guide, please?

P. Starch

 

Dear P.

To be honest, I was going to ignore this question, because I don’t want to give the other readers any ideas.  But then Hamodia ran it in the letters column a few weeks ago, so now I have to do damage control.

My basic answer is that it depends what you’re looking for from a Chol Hamoed trip.  Are you looking for a place where there are not a lot of Jews, no offense?  Our house has a lot of Jews.  It’s actually all Jews.  Are you looking for a place that, if there are Jews, there should at least be a way to daven an awkward Mincha?  We don’t have enough people for that.  Are you looking for a place that isn’t so crowded?  Our house isn’t big, and I’m pretty sure that if you came with your whole family – including in-laws, apparently – it will be crowded. 

Also, if you show up on Chol Hamoed, chances are we won’t be home, because we go on trips too.  Though I suppose if you got here in the morning, you could probably catch us sitting around and arguing about where to go.  That’s always exciting. 

Also, I know you consider me a famous person, but most famous people’s houses become tourist attractions after they’re gone.  That way, the famous person doesn’t have to stand in the corner unsure of what to do with himself.  It’s like, “And this is where he died!” and there’s a skeleton sitting in a chair in front of my computer. 

The fake skeleton is totally going to be in my tzava’a.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Over the course of Pesach cleaning, I found several socks, baruch Hashem, many of them single, lo aleinu.  What do I do with them?

S.S.

Dear S.,

First of all, are you sure they’re single, lo aleinu?  Don’t just throw them out, because as soon as you do, the missing ones will return from galus, and you’ll put them in the singles box, because you’ll have no idea exactly which socks you threw out.  90% of my sock box, I’m pretty sure, is socks whose matches we’ve already tossed.

Part of me thinks that pairs of socks should come attached together, like those mittens you buy for little kids, that have a string that goes around your back and down your other sleeve.   Socks should come the same way.  Yes, you’ll have to put on your socks before your pants every morning, but that’s a small price to pay.  Also, taking off your socks in public will be weird.  And wearing shorts will be weirder.  But it will be worth it in the end, when your sock strings get tangled up in all your laundry, and folding laundry becomes about untangling a massive tzitzis knot. 

But in the meantime, my advice is to find something to do with those singles.  Oven mitts spring directly to mind.  I’m thinking about buying a thick pair of red ones that I can eventually use for fleishigs.

Personally, I keep one in my school bag, so I can use it to erase the board.  My students play with and lose the erasers all the time, and sure, I can carry around my own board eraser, but everything in my bag would get black. So instead, I have this one clean sock in my bag that I put on my hand if I have to and erase the board, and it really gets my students’ attention.  But not in a good way.  And if it doesn’t, it does when I throw it.  So I would greatly recommend it, although this is really only a use for one sock, total, unless you wear them on both hands.  Or if you keep one in each of your classrooms, because you know the kids won’t steal them. 

That said, even if you’re not a teacher, the socks make excellent cleaning cloths if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.  That’s why every year, around Pesachtime, Hashem gives us all these single socks to use.  And what do we do with this gift?  We complain.  What do you want Him to do already?

 

Dear Mordechai,

My family and I were saying “Ha Lachma Anya,” and as soon as we said, “All who are hungry, let them come and eat,” someone knocked at our door.  So we let him in!  It’s pretty awkward, though, because he doesn’t seem to know what Pesach is, he doesn’t seem to understand any other Aramaic words that we say to him, and all he keeps talking about is how he wants to save us money on our energy bill.  He also seemed less interested once we said, “This year we are here, but next year we’ll be in Israel.”  What should we do?

Hugh Lachmanya

 

Dear Hugh,

If he honestly has no idea what’s going on, you should have him read the Mah Nishtanah.

“Whoa, this book took the questions right out of my mouth!  How did it know?”

Then you can read Avadim Hayinu and send him to bed.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’d like to try selling my own chometz this year, to maybe earn some extra cash for Pesach.  How do I go about this?

$₵₤

 

Dear $,

I don’t know.  For some reason, whenever I picture a rabbi selling chometz, I always picture him selling it to a homeless guy.  And I don’t know why.  There are plenty of business goyim too.  Lawyers, cops, salesmen…

“Sir, do you want to switch energy carriers?”

“I don’t know; do you want to buy the contents of this taped-up closet, sight unseen, estimated value $50?”

“I think I have to leave.” 

“Wait!  At least take this unopened case of Cheerios!”

You know what?  Just ask your rabbi how he does it.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Do we have to do the whole afikoman thing?  My parents did it, but I don’t know; I’m not crazy about teaching my kids that they get rewarded for stealing. 

C.S.

 

Dear Cheapskate,

That’s a great question.  We do all these things so the kids will ask why, plus we have them hide the afikoman, but none of them every really ask WHY we have them hide the afikoman.  They just take that at face value.  Sure, we want everyone to be excited and awake, but why do we have to hide the matzah?  Why not hide the egg?

Okay, so there are some great reasons that we don’t hide the egg.

But for example, maybe the point of hiding the matzah is so no one accidentally eats it before Tzafun.  Especially once we bring out all the supplemental kezeisim, and there are pieces everywhere, and it’s hard to tell which is which. 

In fact, the Shulchan Aruch (not Orech) mentions that we should give the matzah to someone else to watch for us.  We need a shomer.

But who can be trusted to not eat the matzah themselves?  Everyone you know is starving, except the non-Jew you sold your chometz too, who is totally going to misunderstand what’s happening here.  (Plus there are kashrus issues – he might substitute it for his non-kosher handmade shmurah matzah.)  So it has to be your kids. 

But really, are your kids responsible?  Your kids who can’t remember not to lean on the matzos so that you’ve had to replace them seven times already and you’re not even up to Yachatz?  And what’s to stop them from eating it in the meantime?  What’s to stop them from trying to trick each other into eating the afikoman?

“Ha ha!  Now you can’t eat for the rest of the night!”

Maybe if they know they’re going to get something if they return it to you in one piece.  Or however many pieces you gave it to them in.  (In one bag, at least.) 

Because what kind of shomer are you looking for here?  A shomer chinam?  A shomer chinam isn’t responsible for theft.  In fact, you yourself were watching the matzah for free, and it got stolen!  Your kids proved that! 

It also works if they hide it in some impossible hiding spot and then fall asleep.

 

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” Put it away for next year.


Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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