Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Big Fat Greek Pesach II

Six years ago, I spent Pesach on the Greek island of Crete, and I wrote a post about the fights over second day Yom Tov - see My Big Fat Greek Pesach. This year, I was once again in Crete for part of Pesach. But this time, I had a different sort of excitement. As a child, I devoured all the books of Gerald Durrell, who grew up in Corfu and wrote about the small but fascinating Greek wildlife and the charming but incompetent Greek humans. This Pesach, I didn't see much of the former, but I saw plenty of the latter!

The first warning that this was going to be a "special" experience was with Aegean Air at Ben-Gurion, where the check-in line took over two-and-a-half hours. The flight itself was uneventful, the stewardesses were pleasant. But when we arrived, our luggage didn't!

Pictured: Socrates, annoyed that his clothing is
in his lost luggage, wearing a sheet instead.
After filing a report for the lost luggage, we checked into the hotel, where we had booked three rooms side-by-side for my wife and I and our children (some of whom are small and needy). But our room turned out to be a long and cold outside walk from our kids' rooms, past lots of other rooms in between! It transpired that in Greece, they see no reason for rooms that are sequentially numbered 331, 332, and 333 to be anywhere near each other!

To cut a long story short, our clothing arrived after only five days, and we were eventually able to switch rooms, so the end of chag was lovely. And when we traveled to the airport this morning to fly home, our flight was only delayed two hours. But Aegean Air had one final surprise in store!

Upon boarding the plane, my wife was surprised to discover that her sister's family had been given the exact same seats as us! One would think that it's rather simple for airline computers to make sure that people are not given the same seats, but apparently that's not the case with Aegean Air. Fortunately they found other seats for my sister-in-law's family, and we were finally able to take our seats. Whereupon another family boarded the plane, and it turned out that they, too, had been given the exact same seats as us...

Anyway, we finally made it home, thank God. THANK YOU GOD. I think I saw a news story about viral video footage of a man being dragged, screaming, onto an Aegean Air flight that was underbooked.

Sometime this week, I hope to be returning to my semi-regular writing schedule. There is a particularly fascinating topic that I plan to discuss, combining both rationalist Judaism and natural history, based on something that I saw in Crete. Here's a photo of it; see if you can guess what it is, where it is, and why it's there.


  1. Ostrich egg chandelier

    How queer
    Not even clear
    Why found so dear

  2. For such a miserable experience what's the heter to leave Eretz Yisroel?

    1. Well, I suspect the miserable part was not planned.

  3. I think I saw a news story about viral video footage of a man being dragged, screaming, onto an Aegean Air flight that was underbooked.

    This is the best line, by far. Too bad it needs the rest of the post to be understood.

  4. Hopefully you have learned your lesson and next year you will do the rational thing which is for a Jew staying in Israel on the Chag.

  5. With all due respect, you have absolutely no idea as to the reasons why I was there.

    1. Why were you there?
      Family trip?
      Collecting specimens for the museum?

  6. Replies
    1. Someone else who has absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

    2. Not only that, it speaks Hebrew. It is permissible to leave EY temporarily to engage in business. There are many other instances when something becomes permissible to avoid a great loss or even an ordinary loss.

  7. Rabbi Slifkin, just curious, why do you post the worthless comments of obnoxious imbeciles? Like these trolls attacking your trip? Why not just delete them like the garbage they are?

  8. Ditto Isaac Finkelstein's question

  9. If that's the Shema on the chandelier, it could be akin to the Shema inscribed over the Imperial Tablet in the synagogue of Kaifeng, China. Guess I will have to wait and see!

  10. I think the chandelier is part of the recently restored Etz Hayyim synagogue in Crete. And having ostrich eggs in shul is at least a 500 year old minhag, noted by R. Yaakov Emden and R. Eliyahu HaKohen, and based on the assumption that an ostrich incubates its eggs by gazing at them. There exists a similar tradition in Islam and Christianity (which themselves may have arisen around its already-achieved status as a luxury item), and based on the lead-up to your question, I'll venture a guess that you're going to tell us that it's another instance of an irrational and non-Jewish tradition that crept into Jewish practice.

    There is an interesting article here: goo.gl/gln6xt.

    R Stefansky

  11. We are just so, so grateful that after years of living in chu'l we were finally able to say "this year in Jerusalem."


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