Marie Antoinette and Pesach Delicacies: A Comparison

When told that the French peasants had no bread to eat, Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said, “Let them eat cake.” Intended to show just how out of touch she was with the population, leading to the angry feelings of the populace during the French Revolution, this phrase was actually not cake, but “brioches,” a type of enriched bread with eggs and cream. The idea was that when they had no plain bread to eat, she suggested they should eat better bread. It’s kind of like saying, “My Honda broke down,” and someone responding, “So take the Tesla.”

The Joy of Pesach Foods: Appreciating What We Have

However, this concept popped into my head when someone asked me why it is that on Pesach we eat all sorts of “delicacies,” with great gusto, but the minute Pesach is over we don’t want to touch them. I wouldn’t say that’s entirely true, as we had a package of rainbow cake in our freezer from last Pesach that we dipped into every so often and it was only finished very recently. However, I think that is more the exception than the rule.

Finding Happiness in the Present

All those delicious shehakol cookies and the crackers that are “really not bad if you eat them with dips,” aren’t first on our lists when we can have anything we want, but on Pesach, we all tend to go a little crazy for them.

The Lesson of Shabbos Spice: Finding the Divine in the Mundane

The analogy was made to Shabbos, and we all know the famous story of the king who smelled fragrant aromas coming from a Jewish home one Saturday and was invited to partake of the meal. When his chefs tried to recreate the food in the King’s kitchen, they were unsuccessful. The man told the King that the Jews have a spice called “Shabbos,” which cannot be bought or sold and that’s what gave the food its divine taste.

The Secret to Enjoying Life

If you make a conscious decision to enjoy what you have, though; to appreciate whatever Hashem has given you in the moment, then even the cake which falls apart because it’s made of potato starch can compare to the finest baked goods at other times. When we say the bracha of Shehechyanu, thanking Hashem for bringing us to “THIS” time, we should remember that each day we live, and whatever is in that day, should be special and enjoyed to the fullest.

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

Rabbi Gewirtz (Operation Inspiration) welcomes comments and feedback. Write to him at to share your thoughts. You never know when you may be the lamp that enlightens someone else.

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