Thursday, April 5, 2012

"The Reluctant Emigrant"

For Passover which starts on Friday


Who is it?


The Moses. The “Let My People Go” guy? Mr. “Nine Plagues”?

We’re not finished. There’s another one tonight.

Ten plagues! Boy! Our God truly is a wrathful god.

May I speak to you, please?

Sure. It’s an honor. I’d invite you in, but the house is a mess. When you’re working long hours building pyramids, there is not much time for tidying up.

Such thoughts are unnecessary.

I know I obsess. But I’m kind of anal about my housekeeping.

I mean, because we are leaving this place.

Yeah, I heard about that. No disrespect to your “Big Plan”, nor your connections to a Higher Power who spoke to you through a burning bush – I still don’t know how you could hear Him over the crackling – but, to be totally honest with you, and mindful and appreciative of everything you’ve done to date, I am thinking very seriously about sticking around please don’t smite me.

I am not in the business of smiting my own people. But word of your reluctance has come to me…

From on High?

No, from your neighbors. And your reaction perplexes me. This is what our people have prayed for for generations. This is the Exodus!

I know. But I think I’ll staysodus.

You prefer to remain in bondage?

Some call it bondage. Some call it regular work.

But you don't get paid!

Every job has its liabilities. Look at yours. You'd think liberating slaves would be clear sailing. And here's a guy who doesn't want to go.

I pray ye, explain yourself. Wherein lies your reluctance to leave a place where you’re worked to exhaustion and mercilessly beaten?

Not every day. If you voluntarily work yourself to exhaustion, they leave you alone. Look, you’re asking me – nay, not me, but an entire people – to walk out of this place. And into what?

*The land that was promised to us.

I heard there are people already there. What are they, like housesitters? “Oh, you’re back. Great! We’ll get boxes from the supermarket, and we’ll go.”

It is all in The Plan.

You really think the Egyptians will just let us go?

Not just like that! The plagues are softening them up. “Number Ten” is a doozy.

What is it?

The Killing of the Firstborn.


I know. I’d have called it quits after Locusts. But I’m not exactly in charge.

Let me see if I follow the reasoning here. We inflict horrible plagues on our captors, and they reward us by setting us free, instead of say, killing our first born, and then our second born, and then, everybody born.

You must trust in The Plan.

The Plan. Meaning no disrespect – and count me not amongst those who inexplicably prefer your brother, Aaron – but a “plan”, by definition, involves planning. I heard that when we arrive at the Red Sea – and this is assuming they let us go in the first place, and even if they do, the odds are they will come to their senses and eventually come after us – the number of boats awaiting to carry us across the Red Sea are – what was it, again – zero? Instead of the number we would need, which is a lot?

The Plan is not without risk. But isn’t taking a risk to attain our freedom superior to our current state of affairs?

Not necessarily. Look, these guys are mad at us. And after those plagues, who can blame them? By the way, now that we’re talking about it, nobody asked me if I wanted to inflict plagues. This was a unilateral decision. That now seriously impinges on my wellbeing. In retrospect, it would have been nice to be consulted about it. Have a discussion. Take a vote. But okay. That’s water over the dam, which I think they’ll be making us build when we’re finished with the pyramids, which would be a nice change from building the same thing all the time. But now, of course, that’s not going to happen, because we’re leaving, which, for argument’s sake, let’s say they allow us to do. So, fine. We parade out of here, and we trek out to the Red Sea. The Egyptians come after us, at which point, we are trapped between a large body of water and some really pissed off Egyptians. The best guess is we’ll be wiped out. I say, why not get wiped out here, and avoid the long trek?

I don’t understand you. Have you no hopeful vision for the future?

No. Holy Moses – and I say that with respect, rather than with alarm, as in “Holy Moses!” – I’m a builder. I build pyramids. That’s all I do; that’s all I’ve ever done. Pyramids is an Egyptian thing. They don’t do them anywhere else in the currently known world. I arrive at this new place you’re taking us to, and what do I do then? Build houses that come to a point? And that’s, of course, if we make it there at all, which I sincerely doubt we will. Though the plagues suggest that our god is behind events hastening our liberation, it is equally possible their god is behind events hastening our annihilation.

Listen, I have spent too much time with you, when I should be gathering my flock…

You have sheep?

…it’s a metaphor. Now, and for the last time, as there is no time for your dough to rise, will you not bake some unleavened bread…

You mean matzah? That stuff sticks in my teeth. And it plays havoc with my regularity. Hey, thanks for asking, but I am not baking anything. You and my brethren and sistren, enjoy your freedom. I’ll take my chances right here.

I will respect your decision, misguided Jewish man. But at least let me smear some lamb’s blood on your doorpost, so that the Angel of Death might “pass over” your hovel and leave living your firstborn.

Thanks, but lamb’s blood’s really hard to get off. And besides, I don’t need it. I live here alone.

So, no firstborns?

None. Wait! Me! Technically, I’m a twin, but I came out first. You think that counts?

It counts.

So, you leave off the lamb’s blood, and the Angel of Death gets me. You smear the blood on, identifying me as the only plague inflictor left in the country, and that’s not good either.

There are no simple choices when you’re a Jewish slave in Egypt.

Okay. By a slim margin, relative to my chances of perishing, and understanding that I am of a congenitally negative nature – Man! I really hate this! – but I guess I’ll be going with you.

You have decided wisely, if not swiftly. Onward to the Land of Milk and Honey!

Which’ll probably take, like, forty years to get to.

Don’t make me sorry we included you.

You’ll see. We’ll be wandering around forever.

It’s the next country over. How long can it take?


Greg said...

Thanks! You have brightened my day. Nay - my week!

Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; this must have happened!


Lyle said...

You, sir, are brilliant.

But, then, you probably already knew that.

Thanks for another series of chuckles.


pumpkinhead said...

...and history tells us that that man was named Schmuey Pomerantz.