I recently saw two very curious (read pathetic) magazine ads – one before I left for Passover, one after I got back. And although they lacked an obvious connection, I realized that both products being advertised bothered me for the same reason.
The first ad was for a new weight loss pill. For dogs. That's right, people. Dogs. Now, everyone knows we Americans are overrun with obesity. (31% of us to be exact.) And while it's definitely not healthy to overeat and under-exercise, we live busy, stress filled lives. Many of us were raised with bad eating habits or learned to eat for the wrong reasons.
But dogs? Dogs don't get fat when they're out in the wild, living as nature intended. So not only have we infected these animals with a strictly human condition (40% of American dogs are now overweight), we also want to employ a very human quick fix to make them better. Now don't get me wrong. Some quick fixes and technological breakthroughs are very useful with little or no downsides. Things like GPS or indoor plumbing, for instance. But to get a poor dog fat only to pump him up with drugs (to undo the damage we've done) just seems so wrong.
And while I'm not a veterinarian or even a dog owner myself, I was once replaced by a dog. Her name is Brittany and my parents got her to help fill up some of the space in their empty nest when I went off to college. Brittany is, shall we say, a privileged dog. My parents refer to her as their fourth daughter (albeit the hairy one). She sleeps in bed with them and eats only human food. And so Brittany grew fat off the land in my parents' house. But one day when the vet said Brittany's girth had reached dangerous proportions, my parents held back on her food, and sure enough the previously zaftig doggy was soon as svelte as ever. It didn't take drugs or magic – just a little effort on the part of my parents.
And speaking of effort, apparently some people are now finding the old-fashioned version of the Passover seder (you know, the one that has everything in it) to be too much time and effort to sit through, because the second troubling ad I saw was for the new "30 Minute Seder". Now believe me, I get it. Passover is boring if you come to a seder not knowing which end is up, so hey, why not just get rid of all those "extra" parts and trim the seder down to a manageable size?
But just like our bodies are obese due to mistreatment, our minds, when it comes to Jewish knowledge, have also been improperly cared for. While it's far easier to cut out the stuff that we don't understand, it's far more beneficial to take the time to find out what it all means and why those rabbis bothered to put all that stuff in the hagada in the first place.
Now I do consider dogs on diet pills better than dead dogs as I consider 30 minute seders better than no seders. But when it comes to our physical and spiritual well being, why are we conceding to such low standards? These might seem to be the easiest solutions for now, but medicating instead of actually addressing our problems will ultimately put us all in the doghouse.