We’re counting down the last days of Passover, and none too soon, as I’ve started fantasizing about baked goods in idle moments. In honor of the holiday, thought it was worth retelling this classic joke:
Throughout his childhood, Bernie is obsessed with airplanes. By high school, he decides that he wants to be an aeronautical engineer and plane designer. He studies hard, gets into the best design school, graduates cum laude and, through years of hard work, begins to build a reputation as the US’s finest plane designer. Eventually, as his reputation peaks, the President calls.
“Bernie,” the President says, “we want you to build a fighter jet – cost is no object – but I want it to be, by far, the very best fighter jet in the world. ”
Ecstatic, Bernie goes to work, directing the entire resources of his company into this single project. After several months of tireless toil, Bernie shows a design so revolutionary that it draws universal acclaim. A prototype is built, yielding further adulation. Yet, on the first test flight, before the plane even leaves the ground, the forces are too great, breaking the wings cleanly off the fuselage.
Bernie is distraught. He completely redesigns the wing attachments, builds another prototype and attempts a second test flight. The same problem strikes. After a third time through the design-build-test-break cycle, Bernie is despondent.
Not knowing where else to turn, Bernie consults a rabbi. He pours his heart out. The rabbi deliberates.
“Listen,” says the rabbi. “I can solve your problem. You must drill a row of tiny holes directly above and below where the wing meets the fuselage. If you do this, I absolutely guarantee the wings won’t fall off.”
Bernie thanks the rabbi, but leaves disillusioned. The suggestion flies completely in the face of the laws of structural design. But after a few nights of fruitless brainstorming, Bernie decides he has nothing to lose. He builds another prototype, following the rabbi’s advice, drilling a row of holes directly above and below where the wings meet the fuselage.
Lo and behold, the test flight goes off without a hitch. The president is thrilled, an entire armada of Bernie’s planes are built, and Bernie becomes a living legend in the aeronautics community. Eventually, plagued by curiosity, Bernie returns to the rabbi.
“Rabbi,” he asks, “how did you know that drilling those holes would prevent the wings from breaking off?”
The rabbi smiles, then replies,
“Bernie, I’m an old man. I’ve been a rabbi for many years, and I’ve celebrated Passover every year of my life. And in that time, not once, NOT ONCE, have I ever seen a single piece of matzo break along the perforation. ”
Pesach sameach, everyone. Next year, in Jerusalem.