A Parable

by Barry Drogin

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There came a time when God decided to test the people of the world.

And so God created a disease which came from a process in the creation of Passover matzah. And as this disease spread from matzah factory to matzah factory, Jews across the nation, and soon across the world, started to become sick and die.

Now when the first Jews became sick, no one knew what caused the disease, or how it was spread. At first, the doctors did not even realize that it was only Jews who had this disease, and they were completely baffled by its symptoms. As more and more Jews came down with the disease, many Jews did not want to acknowledge that a disease that only happened to Jews even existed, and the rest of the world, due to its anti-Semitism, did not consider the disease as very important. After all, they reasoned, it is only Jews who are dying --- we are safe.

As the years passed and the number of cases grew, the doctors tried desperately to determine what caused the disease. Since the disease first infected only Shmuli matzah factories, the doctors noticed that only highly observant Jews in urban areas got the disease, but what could they recommend: that Jews become less observant? Since at first only Hasidim and Orthodox Jews were dying, the world, and even many Reform and Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews, chose to ignore the disease.

However, soon the disease spread throughout the Jewish movement, even to Jews who only observed Passover and Hanukkah. But those who only observed Hanukkah and did not observe Passover did not get the disease, and eventually the doctors, in cooperation with a by now highly concerned Jewish community, determined that Passover matzah was spreading the disease.

Now since the rest of the world did not eat Passover matzah, the rest of the world, cruelly, remained indifferent to this horrible disease. Meanwhile, while the disease was still barely understood, there was much debate within the Jewish community over whether to ban matzah from the Passover seder. Many Catholic ministers declared that the Jews were being punished for not being Christian and partaking of the communion wafer instead of the Passover matzah.

As the world continued in its anti-Semitic fervor, the disease spread more and more, and, aside from financial support from within the Jewish community itself, there was no sense of urgency within government funding circles for research into improved care or a cure. Many secretly saw the disease as God's way of implementing His own final solution on the Jewish people.

Now after some ridiculous debates within the Jewish community on scripture, free will and observance, eventually many Jews realized that it was more important to change the seder until a cure was found. The rabbis invented and encouraged the use of fake, "safe" matzahs; many fearful Jews doubted that even "safe" matzahs were truly safe, while other arrogant Jews continued to make their own matzah and, in some cases, to get the disease.

Meanwhile, it became clearer and clearer that the disease could also be gotten from Communion wafers. Some Christians who got the disease this way blamed the Jews. Many Christians, even non- observant ones, became virulently anti-Semitic and demanded that Jews be quarantined. Many Jews unfairly lost their jobs, their homes, were shunned by their less observant relatives and non- Jewish friends, and died isolated and stigmatized.

Many Jews could see the hand-writing on the wall. They could see that this disease would mutate, and spread in different ways, and soon no one would be safe from its random clutches. But, to this point, only a few famous Jews had gotten the disease, then a more famous person who no one knew was Jewish, then one famous non-Jew, but still no Senators' sons or TV executives' daughters or CEOs' grandchildren. But everyone knew it would only be a matter of time. And still they did nothing, for they said, "Surely, the government is taking care of it."

And God said, "See my foolish children of the world. They see my judgement everywhere that it is not, for have I revealed my will unto them? They practice genocide and euthanasia, but haven't I said, "Thou Shalt Not Kill"? Each man is concerned only for himself, but haven't I demanded that they love the stranger in their midst, and don't I demand charity and compassion? I test them with disease, and they weep and wail and fight amongst themselves. Do I distinguish between the Jew and the Christian? Between he that eats the matzah but does not remember the suffering of the slaves in Egypt, and he who eats the wafer but does not remember the suffering of Jesus on the cross? Oh, this will be a sore trial indeed!"

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