photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Happy Passover to all the Jews out there! The following will immediately make sense to you; if you’re not Jewish, you’re going to get your learnin’ hats on here (note: please do not quote the following to any Orthodox Jews, because they will probably hunt me down and have me excommunicated for crimes against the religion as a whole or somesuch).
The Passover holiday is an 8-day long affair started off with two nights of big dinner parties, called seders. The centerpiece of the seder meal, other than the terrible Manischewitz wine, is the seder plate, a traditional arrangement of items meant to symbolize various aspects of the Passover story (which, if you’re not familiar with the holiday, is the story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt). There are some variations in what exactly is on the plate, with certain differences being regional and some being simply familial preference/habit, but the basics are more or less the same on Passover seder tables all over the world.
In the spirit of the holiday, we have here a Roar of the Tigers primer to the seder plate, Detroit Tigers style. Refer to the image at the start of this post; we’ll go from the top around clockwise.
The maror, or bitter herbs, can be a number of different substances so long as they’re bitter-tasting. At Roar of the Tigers seders it’s always a horseradish mash like the one pictured above. It symbolizes the bitterness that the Jews experienced as slaves under the Pharaoh in Egypt and the bitterness that Brandon Inge feels at the thought of being forced to play catcher.
The zeroa, or shankbone, is a representation of the Paschal lamb that was a sacrificial offering back in the days when people were all about those sacrificial offerings. In the Passover story, it also referred back to the blood of a lamb which was used to mark the houses of the Jews so that the Angel of Death would skip over them and not kill their children (killing instead all the first-born sons of the Egyptians, in retaliation for the Pharaoh having ordered such a policy carried out against the Jews). It is also a representation of AAAA-type guys like Clete Thomas who’ve been playing really well but will still be sacrificed the moment it has to be done for the sake of the roster. The sacrifice, you see, has to be made, but it’s for the greater good.
The charoset is a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine that’s supposed to recall the mortar that was used to in the construction of the Pharaoh’s grain storehouses, which the Jews were forced to build as part of their enslavement. Although there is hopefully no enslavement going on in the Tigers’ organization, Dave Dombrowski quite clearly represents the mortar holding the storehouses (minor leagues) of the organization together.
The karpas, or green vegetable, is one of the more curious items on the seder plate. Although the vegetable itself (which can be lettuce or parsley or celery or something else similar) may represent rebirth and springtime, it is dipped in saltwater before it is eaten on Passover, and the saltwater is supposed to symbolize the tears wept by the enslaved Jews. Joel Zumaya, ‘though representing potential and the rebirth of the Detroit bullpen, also represents woe and tears, as his current injured state leaves him completely useless to the bullpen.
The egg is often thought to be another symbol of rebirth and spring-like things, but it apparently actually represents a second Temple sacrifice, like the shankbone, and is also a symbol of mourning, as it was a traditional funeral food. Jeremy Bonderman, like the egg, can sometimes be thought of as a symbol of rebirth (following 2003), but is more often these days a symbol of mourning, as he loses all control of the baseball at inexplicable times and with inexplicable frequency.
There are some people who add a sixth seder plate item, the chazeret, which is a bitter herb that’s usually green and leafy (as opposed to the maror), but who needs that fancy extra business, that’s what I say.
There you have it: the seder plate rendered in Detroit Tigers. You’ll also have to take it as an apology for why I wasn’t around these parts all this weekend. I plead Guilty By Cause of Holiday (and, er, a couple of Red Sox games at Fenway. Hey, if I was gonna be in town anyways….).