Hard Boiled Jews and Tisha B’Av
The custom to place an egg on the Seder plate and to eat the egg on Tisha B’Av seems to be very strange. On Passover we place the egg on the Seder plate to symbolized
The Ramah, in the Shulchan Aruch, links the custom of placing an egg on the Seder plate to the egg eaten before the commemoration of Tisha B’av. The link between Passover and Tisha B’Av is that Tisha B’Av falls on the same day of the week as the first night of Passover. Since the egg is associated with mourning, it directs attention to the mourning of the Jewish people on the day of Tisha B’Av the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.
The symbolism of the egg on Passover to associate the historical mourning of Jews on the ninth day of the month of Av with the celebration of freedom on the first night Passover. However, this juxtaposition between freedom and mourning is puzzling. Both represent total opposite extremes. A joyous celebration of freedom is linked with the horrendous remembrance of pogroms, persecution and destruction of our people on Tisha B’Av.
One answer is that Jews left Egypt early, at 210 years not the original 400. But because they were about totally assimilate and lose their identity, they were let out early. There was a spiritual debt of the remaining years that were “owed”. It was a debt that was paid on Tisha B’Av , as well as the remaining years of oppression. The reason that Tisha B’Av always falls out on the same day of the week as the first day of Passover, to link that debt.
That explanation, is a hard egg to swallow!
Jewish people have endured so much as a people, both the celebrations and the sorrows. As a result of centuries of living and adapting to different environments Jews have developed as many distinct groups. Today it gets even more complicated, as technology, media, and the rapid intermixing of culture and tradition, we have many Jews celebrating their Jewishness in so many different ways. We as Jews have become a big and extended family. This family however, has taken on different streams, colors, traditions. Whether you will agree with these other streams or not, the fact remains, that they do exist and do form a distinct part of the fabric of our Jewish people.
Another symbolism of the egg, is that it is a food item that gets harder not softer the more you cook it symbolizing the strength of the Jewish people. But the thing that makes us stronger also makes us more intolerant, and at times uncaring and less welcoming of others. That is the sad state of affairs we are in as the exile continues.
Our job on Tisha B’Av, is to take the message of tolerance and love of fellow Jew, before pride and prejudice. Will you join the challenge for Jewish unity, or be a pawn of it. Tisha B’Av offers the opportunity to soften the egg of exile and allowing us to truly unite as one people. Won’t you join us?
Jewish Unity challenge is a challenge to unite all Jews, in bonds of unity. It has been too long that we separate. It is time to unite.