In The Beginning Is The End
By BARBARA GOLDIN
"Are you going to hide The matzah
now, Dad? asked Iris.
"Yes. Close your eyes. You too
Ben," Dad said. He wrapped the
piece of unleavened bread in a blue
napkin and hid it.
"All done," Dad told Iris and her
younger brother Ben. "You can open
your eyes now."
Iris glanced toward the living
"Using your x-ray vision?" teased
"Don't be so smart," Iris snapped
at Ben. "It isn't fair that he finds it
every year and gets the $5 reward,
Dad. He peeks"
"You two, Can't you quit for the
holiday?" Mom interrupted. "It is
hard to believe that an 8-year-old
and a 10-year-old can still bicker
like you do."
"He started it," Iris defended
"That's enough. Anyway, you
know you can't search for the
matzah until after dinner. It'll be "part
of the dessert and mark the end of
the Passover meal."
Iris and Ben groaned together.
"Last year, it took hours to get
dessert," complained Ben.
"We, we'd better begin the seder
right now then," said Grandfather.
"Ben, you're the youngest one here.
You ask the four questions."
"Why is this night different from
all other nights?" Ben sang the first
question in the traditional Hebrew
When he finished, Grandfather
started the retelling of the Passover
story and how their ancestors were
freed from bondage in Ancient
Iris wished he would speed up
the story, but Grandfather told it the
same way every year and never left
out a word. When Grandfather
talked about what the Rabbi Joshua
said or what Rabbi Akiva said about
Passover, Iris lost interest. And so
"Who's shaking the table?" Dad
"It's Ben again. He can't keep still
for two seconds."
"Try two hours," grumbled Ben.
Then Grandfather led the family
in a song and Iris forgot about the
hidden matzah and the $5 reward.
Grandfather named the 10
plagues that the Egyptians suffered
before Pharaoh, their ruler, agreed
to free the Hebrews. Iris liked when
they dipped wine onto their plates
for each plague, a little wine from
their full cups to remember the
sorrow of the Egyptians during the
"The plague of the boils," said
Grandfather. "And hail. And
Iris spilled a little wine for each
"Now the symbols of the seder.
What do they mean?" asked
"Oh, good. It's getting close to
dinner and then the search," Iris
thought. Only five more pages of
her Haggadah, the special Passover
book her family used for the seder.
Grandfather gave a little piece of
matzah to each person.
"Something to eat at last,"
mumbled Ben. "I'm starving."
Grandfather went on, "While we
eat this flat bread, we'll remember
how quickly the Hebrew slaves fled
from Egypt. They didn't have time to
let their bread dough rise. We'll
remember how quickly the Hebrew
slaves fled from Egypt. They didn"t
even have time to let their bread
dough rise. We'll eat dinner now
and be thankful we eat in freedom."
As Iris munched on her favorite
Passover dish made of chopped
nuts, apples and wine, she noticed
that Ben ate very slowly.
"If we don't start hunting for the
matzah soon, Ben will fall asleep at
the table," she warned.
"I will not." Ben lifted his drooping
"Now, now," said Grandfather.
"Why don't we have dessert and you
can start the search."
Iris hurried into the living room,
looked behind the pictures and in
the coffee table drawers. She saw
Ben frantically rummage in the hall
closet and under the pillows on the
"Maybe he didn't peek after all,"
Ben bumped into Iris as she bent
down to check under the couch.
"Ow, watch it," she warned.
"Sorry," muttered Ben. "I've got
dibs on everyone's pockets."
With a sinking feeling, Iris
remembered the time Dad hid the
matzah in his pocket.
"No luck," Ben said. Iris felt
relieved. She didn't want to lose to
Ben this year.
"Give us a hint, Dad," pleaded
Iris. "We've turned the living room
"In the beginning is the end,"
came Dad's cryptic reply.
"That's no help, Dad," complained
Ben. "Give us a different clue."
"It's in the kitchen."
While the adults drank coffee and
talked, Iris and Ben combed the
"I'm really surprised Dad hid it
here," Iris said.
"Me, too. Maybe Dad doesn't
remember how we got the Passover
dished mixed up with the regular
dishes by mistake last year." Ben
yawned. "You know, Iris. I'm ready
to give up."
"Ben give up! I don't believe it,"
said Iris who felt the same way but
was surprised Ben did too.
"Why don't we look together?"
"You must be desperate."
"Well, $2.50 is better than
"It's a deal," said Iris.
Ben perked up. After scanning
the kitchen thoroughly, he pointed to
some shelves in the corner. "We
forgot to go through the food in that
He opened the cupboard and Iris
pulled out an opened box of matzah.
When she peeked inside, she
spotted a piece of blue cloth.
"Here it is!" she shouted joyfully
as she pulled the prize from the box.
"Good," said Grandfather. "Now
we can each eat a piece of the
hidden matzah and read the rest of
"That was the best hiding place
ever, Dad," said Iris.
"I thought so too, Iris. Here's the
"Dad, I need change. I'm splitting
the prize money with Ben."
"You both worked hard for the
money," Dad said as he made the
"And together," added
Grandfather. "I never thought I'd see
you two cooperate tonight."
"This was an exception," joked
"I think I've figured out what Dad
meant by that first clue. The hidden
matzah is the dessert, the end of
the Passover meal, right?"
"So what," Ben said impatiently.
"Dad put it back in the box it
came from at the beginning of the
meal. He brought the end and the
"And you two in the bargain," Dad
grinned. "I got more for my $5 than I
ever hoped for."
Reprinted from Shofar magazine,