Why is this Rube different from all other Rubes?
image via YouTube screen capture
This Friday evening marks the first night of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Known mostly for its dietary restrictions–traditionally observant Jews refrain from eating leavened bread products, hence: Matzo, a cardboard-esque substite–Passover is a time when Jews the world over gather at large festive meals called “Seders” to commemorate their ancestors’ biblical exodus out of Egypt (They also, if they’re anything like my family, quote Cecil B. DeMille’s classic The Ten Commandments incessantly, until someone at the table brings up Charlton Heston’s penchant for guns and then we all get quiet and move on with our meal).
“Seder,” literally translated from Hebrew, means “order”: A reference to the linear sequence of rituals prescribed during the holiday meal. It’s in that spirit a team of students at Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology created this astonishingly complex Rube Goldberg machine–made, in part, with matzo–to visually relate the Passover story. From the burning bush to (some of) the ten plagues, each element appears in perfect successive order, one after the other.
It all happens pretty fast, so the students, all enrolled in the Technion’s Architecture and Town Planning programs, also created this behind-the-scenes video to explain each individual step of their crazy contraption.
As to what the actual Rube Goldberg, himself the son of 19th century Jewish immigrants, would have thought about his titular mechanical style being put to use for a decidedly religious purpose… well, that’s complicated. Goldberg biographer Peter Marzio describes Rube’s secular childhood, explaining:
"The absence of any traditional religious baggage made Rube a free spirit. An objective observer, willing to analyze facts as he found them, creating his own intellectual scheme complete with intricate iconography and wise sayings."
Still, I’d like to think Goldberg would have appreciated the students’ homage to his titular mechanical style, even if he never did develop a taste for Matzo.