I make a good quiche. No, I take that back. I make amazing quiche. It's so good, I should write a book about it. Seriously, I don't often say this about myself. I'm much better at self-deprecation that self-aggrandizement. Suffice it to say, you could do far worse than have a baby and get an Ilana-Epstein-post-baby-meal special, which always features soup, salad and one of my unbelievable quiches. It's one of those things I have come to depend on. No matter what, no matter where, regardless of the circumstances, no book or recipe needed, I can pull together a great quiche, and with the added benefit that I always feel great about myself afterwards. Nothing like the accomplishment of making something from scratch and then filling my arteries with saturated fat to set me up for the day. Last Thursday, after a mad day of drilling (no, the repair work is not over yet), I prepared myself for my cure-all. Oh God! Did I mention that my quiche pastry is like flaky heaven and melts in shards on the tip of your tongue? Butter, flour, salt and some hocus-pocus, and the pastry was made and in the fridge. Then I went to take a shower before finishing up my quiche. As I was busy doing my best Susanna Hoffs impersonation (shampoo bottles make the best microphones, and the conditioner needs time to work), I heard a pounding on the front door, the type of pounding that was loud enough to break through even the best of The Bangles. With conditioner in my eyes and a towel covering all the essentials, I ran down the stairs to see what the national emergency was, while reliving all my nightmares that my home would catch fire while I was wearing nothing but a towel. A builder was standing just inside my front door, saying, "Lady, will you move your Mazda!" You know that there is something wrong when they use brand names. My imagination went wild. Was my car obstructing a hydrant? Was my front wheel on a cat's tail? I threw on some clothing and ran out, just to find that the big emergency - the one that had me running out with non-leave-in conditioner "left-in" - was that a crane and cement truck were vying for position in front of my house. No thanks were issued for my running out of my house dripping wet. All I was told was, "It's about time. Move your car!" As if that wasn't bad enough, my first choice of spot was not to their liking, so I had to choose another one. Mind you, I don't know if I would have been in a better mood if the sentence had started with a "please" and ended with a "thank you." Or if some builder/driver hadn't helped himself into my house and seen me in a towel I had borrowed from the King David. Regardless. To say that my day went downhill from there would be an understatement. My quiche which, at this point was required for purely medicinal purposes, was a complete disaster. Who can focus on the milk-to-egg-ratio when busy reviewing all the great comebacks I should have hurled at the builder standing inside my home? Something along the lines of "Hi, honey, you're home!" or "We keep the arsenic with the tea." or "Don't mind me, this is just my house. Now please leave!" Any of them would have been better than my deer-in-headlights stare. As a wannabe philosopher, I have always loved Pessah. There are so many thoughts, so many ideas, and a wicked story filled with heroes, princes, bad guys and supernatural phenomena. One of my favorite aspects of the Pessah story are the contrasts. In fact, contrasts permeate the entire narrative. There is good - Moses; and bad - Pharaoh. There is slavery and there is freedom. There is dry land and there is water. And then there is the most interesting contrast of them all, Nahshon Ben-Aminadav and the erev rav, or mixed multitude. The erev rav don't get as much coverage as they should. Nor does Nahshon, for that matter. The erev rav were a combination of Egyptians and slaves of other nations who got on the bandwagon as the children of Israel fled from Egypt. Moses accepted them into the fold; but as the journey through the desert gets underway, the erev rav are the first to complain. They have the mass appeal of the naysayers. In case you are still wondering who they are, they concocted the whole Golden Calf drama and the "tasteless food" scenario. In contrast stood Nahshon Ben-Aminadav. He gets real kudos for bravery and faith. Nahshon gets himself into the Red Sea and, without even taking a huge breath, plays chicken with God: Either he drowns or the sea parts, and we all know how that story ends. His pure faith not only opened the waters but made an entire nation follow in his footsteps. In the contrast between belief and doubt, therein lies faith. As I contemplated my first ever failed quiche, I couldn't understand what had happened. It was as if the world were spinning off its axis. Here is the good part. For the last 11 years, I have been trying to be the perfect mother - and failed. In retrospect, I'm pleased because perfection is nothing without its contrast. I'm a great mom when compared to, say, Martha Stewart. Oh sure, I can't ice a cake blindfolded, and more than once I have forgotten to sign the trip permission slips, and I do throw out the kids' drawings when they are not looking and blame it on the cleaning lady. My perfection is only apparent in the face of my failures, and I believe that it is my imperfections to which my children can relate. My next quiche is going to be amazing in the face of the failed quiche. So here are my props to Nahshon Ben-Aminadav, who is truly amazing but more so because of the complete failure of faith by the erev rav. My message to myself and others this Pessah is: Have faith in your own abilities. Faith to be a good mother, a good baker and, of course, enough faith in yourself to stand up to workmen invading your privacy. No matter where your towel may come from.

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