Sitting on my desk are two pieces of electronic equipment. One is a Wacom Cintiq 21UX drawing tablet monitor. The other is a Nintendo Switch. Neither of them are particularly cheap, yet both of them fell into my lap, for free, on the same day. You might not think that a video game system and an art tablet are particularly connected. But I believe their coinciding demonstrates they are not only intertwined, but also represent the missing element of Passover.
When it comes to Passover rituals, everyone knows the big ones. The four questions. The four cups of wine. The Matzah, the maror, the dipping, the reclining, and that cup in the center of the table nobody drinks. However, back in ancient Israel, the central focus of the whole Seder was the Korban Pesach (aka, the Paschal Lamb.) The original lamb was the sacrifice which protected the Jewish people from the plague of the first born. And in the centuries after, this sacrifice was the central component of the Seder. Today, we have elements that symbolize the Korban Pesach, mainly the Afikomen and the Seder plate’s shank bone. But the fire roasted lamb itself which must be “eaten in haste” is absent.
What is the meaning of the Paschal Lamb? The sheep was regarded in Egyptian culture as one of their most important gods. Why would the Jews be required to sacrifice this Egyptian god? For that we need to consider what idolatry is all about. Why would someone bow down to a golden cow, perform blood rituals, or worship a plastic representations of vanity and affluence?
Okay, maybe it’s not that hard to understand. Celebrities, money, power. We can see how these can become modern-day idols. But what separates working hard for a bigger paycheck and full-on idol worship? I think one word will clue us in to the difference.
What will we never be late for? What will we camp out at 2 am for? But most importantly, what will make time for even when there’s no time left in the day? The answer to these questions clue us in to what our real priorities are. And ultimately our highest priority is our true master. So if you’re working hard to provide the best home for your family, then the work serves the family. However if you’re working hard to own the biggest home for the sake of honor, then the work serves your status. Notice the keyword: serves.
Here is what should be my top priority. For the last 3+ years I’ve been trying to sell this one TV show idea. I’ve reworked the concept four times, brought about from countless drafts. But the truth of the matter is that no one will probably buy it unless it was an established IP (intellectual property).
So the idea was suggested that I turn it into a graphic novel. That way I can sell it in a much easier market. Great. One problem. Equipment for digital art is very expensive. To justify the cost, I’d basically have to stop wasting time and really get serious. And by wasting time, I mean video games.
If you’ve read some of my other articles, you may know how much I enjoy them. It’s one of my biggest distractions. I have limited myself to only the old video game systems, so I won’t be tempted to buy new games. But I still spend plenty of time playing those.
Well oddly enough, my best friend hears about my graphic novel plight and says “You know? I can give you my old Wacom tablet.” Amazing! This is practically a miracle. But then, he tells me, “I also bought the new OLED model of the Nintendo Switch, do you want my old one?“
Let’s just look at this for a second. All of a sudden I am being given two gifts, the tool that will help realize my career and Nintendo’s newest video game system. At the same time and for free. This is the perfect demonstration of a free will choice.
Over the last six months, which one do you think got more play time? Let’s just say if I put in the number of hours on the Wacom tablet that I had on the Nintendo Switch, I’d have penciled, inked, and painted a whole first issue by now. I’m not saying that I worship my Nintendo Switch as an idol. But there are times I’ve stayed up till 11pm (or later) plugging away on Mario Odyssey. On the other hand, I can’t say I’ve lost much sleep trying to get another page drawn in my comic.
Many of the Jews in Egypt worshiped the Egyptian idols. Can you blame them? They were living through generations of slavery. However, their idols represented more than who you prayed to. It was the Egyptian values, lifestyle, and set of priorities. Leaving those behind is not such an easy thing to do, even after witnessing 9 miraculous plagues. So they needed to perform an action to slaughter this Egyptian mentality. With the Korbon Pesach, the Jewish people chose a new and better direction in their lives. The freedom to accomplish their dreams.
We don’t have this sacrifice anymore, but in its place is the afikoman. The section of the seder where we eat the afikoman is called tzafun, which literally means the “hidden thing.” Clearly this refers to hiding the last piece of matzah so the children at the table can find it. But also the essence of what the Korbon Pesach represents is hidden as well. Though we may feel free in our modern society, we’re also shackled by all the distractions that stop us from being the people we want to be. So in the place of the Korbon Pesach which would represent redemption, we eat another helping of matzah as a reminder of what distractions we still need to rid ourselves of.
I certainly need to distance myself from my distraction. No, I’m not going to sacrifice my Nintendo Switch. I’m not even going to get rid of it. But I’m going to put it away for a while. A week isn’t going to be enough to break the connection and get my graphic novel written. But 49 days, until the next holiday of Shavuot? That might make a real impact.