By the time you read this, I will be facing the prospect of not eating bread for a whole week. Can you imagine, a bacon cheeseburger on matzah??It being Passover, though,bread is a no-no, so matzah it is.
Because it is Passover, my daughter is learning all about the holiday in her pre-school and we are reading the books at bedtime. She loves the stories of Moses demanding that Pharaoh let our people go and his refusal to allow it. But as I read the stories, no matter how much the story is refined to make it more kid-friendly, there is just no getting away from the brutality of it. You cannot tell the Passover story without using the words “death” and “blood” and it is especially difficult when you have a4-year old who constantly asks questions and (for no real reason) lately seems to be infatuated with death. I mean, it is kind of cute when she says that she is sad that mommy’s grandmother is dead, but it really doesn’t need to be a topic of discussion for a 4-year old.
I remember the nightmares myself, wishing that I was my brother, hoping that the angel of death “passed over” our house, for fear that I, as the first-born son, would be smoted. (An unreasonable fear because the angel of death passed-over the Jewish homes…) But still, these were some big words and some powerful fears for a little kid who couldn’t separate fact from fiction and present-day from days of yore. (For those of you who don’t know, the days of yore were typically Wednesdays. Just a little bit of trivia for you.)
So as we sing-song the rhymes and laugh about the dead cows and frogs jumping everywhere, the viciousness of the ten plagues is unavoidable. The effort is made to downplay the seriousness of the story; the books use bright colors and comedic characterizations to emphasize the cartoonish-ness of the characters, all with the intention that the major concepts are grasped, not the minute details. If you think about them as 10 plagues and not as 10 individual scourges visited on the Egyptians, each of which wreaked havoc and caused terror then it is easier to comprehend.
And I sometimes feel that way with my clients, especially in the litigation context, where we use big, scary words like discovery, deposition, and trial; throwing the words around with familiarity in effort to diminish the ferociousness of the process. But that sometimes sets a bad precedent. I am not saying that I talk to my clients as if they were 4-year olds. But I think everyone tries to find their own way to deliver bad news or describe a difficult process so that they do not appear fearful or doubtful as to the likelihood of success. In being candid, I have attempted on occasion to be brutally honest with a client as to the ferocity of the litigation process and in some instances it is viewed as a demonstration of my own fear for our chances. That is nowhere near the truth.
So we walk a fine line. We try to give as much information as possible to let the client know how aggressive and fierce the litigation process can be while promoting the perception that none of this is atypical of the process or a characterization of the client’s chances of prevailing. Sounds kind of like walking on a tight-rope, don’t you think? Not an easy process and one which I am sure many of you have faced.
Is there an answer? In all fairness, I aim for honesty and clarity. I would rather be brutally honest and descriptive in my explanations than have a client accuse me later of not having prepared him or her for what was to come. Similarly, I don’t think that my daughter is too young to know the back-story of the Passover holiday. All of the stories seem to begin with the explanation that the Jews were slaves in Egypt. But do we ever discuss what that meant to be slaves? It wasn’t a day at the beach and with that in mind, not to use the euphemism that the punishment fit the crime, it certainly would provide some context that the plagues were fierce because nobody should be in servitude to another and Pharaoh, ignoring the rights of man, refused to let the Jews be free.
Ok, so I am sure some of you who have been reading my emails are wondering how long I have been in therapy and when will it finally show some progress. You have to be curious as to what goes on in my mind if I can equate teaching my daughter about Passover with the litigation process. Well, the mind (and mine especially) works in mysterious ways…
Next week— “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” BASEBALL SEASON IS FINALLY HERE!!!
Have a bread-free week if you can stand it… and Happy Passover and Happy Easter.