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February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Dear Rachel,

Pesach is just around the corner and some of us are hard at work cleaning and preparing our homes for Yom Tov, as well as shopping for clothing and shoes for our families. Others are preparing for a Pesach vacation away in a hotel.

In the past we had the opportunity to experience Pesach in a hotel and I can personally attest to the luxury of such a stay. With the profusion and variety of food and programs planned for the adults and children, it can be a really enjoyable vacation. To my disappointment, however, I often witnessed less than seemly behavior by some guests — like those who gravitate towards food literally twenty-four hours a day, as if they have never seen food before.

Note to readers who have never been to a hotel for Pesach: food is supplied throughout the day, be it in the tearooms, ballrooms, or barbecue setups. (Each day consists of a full breakfast, lunch, food in the tearoom, barbecues, and of course Kiddush on the Chaggim and Shabbos.)

Occasionally, one of the full-day food outlets may temporarily be closed due to the need for cleaning or replenishment, but access to food is nonetheless always available. Yet I’ve seen people having near fits at being unable to get something they crave at the moment they insist on having it.

Other examples of infantile behavior: A woman forcefully pushing forward to have first digs at the food as the evening tearoom is being prepared, and who then gets upset when denied entry at her whim (before full setup is completed).

A mob of people rushing the buffet table in the ballroom the second the doors open, piling food high on their plates — most of which ends up getting thrown out, because it really is only about the “taking.”

Many parents helping themselves to the kiddie table fare (a kids’ dinner served earlier so that parents who want to have a quiet dinner alone can put their kids to bed beforehand.) I can only guess that since they will soon be sitting down to their own “adult” dinner, these parents simply consider this to be their extra appetizers.

Rachel, I’ve seen hotel guests hoard sealed bottles of wine in their rooms, though they couldn’t possibly drink them all. (If they did, they’d be too drunk to make it to the dinner table.)

People order several of the available main dishes (there are about five options) just to check each one out, even though they will not touch most of them.

Some guests will walk upstairs with their food on china dinnerware, rather than have the good sense and decency to ask for a takeout container to take up to their rooms.

Others carry full takeout containers up to their rooms — after having eaten a full meal.

My attempt at analyzing the improper conduct on the part of some of my fellow frum Jews has led me to conclude that this is most likely due to an “I’m getting my money’s worth out of this” frame of mind.

Pesach in a hotel admittedly costs a pretty penny, and some of these big spenders want to make sure they will be getting every penny’s worth.

Some of the hotels are also known to feature a full fashion show; every meal and every midday occasion calls for a new wardrobe change. I must say, though, that I’ve found guests at Florida hotels to be much more relaxed about what they wear. This more moderate approach to dressing up might have something to do with the more “moderate” regional climate.

In any case, I hope some Pesach hotel goers will see themselves in my letter and digest some of my kosher le’Pesach food for thought.

Luxury doesn’t call for gluttony

Dear Luxury,

The “food” you present here is kind of hard to swallow, let alone digest. One would suppose that those who can afford the luxury of a Pesach getaway are of a refined and upper class sort. Yet your letter describes the reverse.

Presuming that the majority of hotel guests behave with decorum and dignity, that still leaves a minority displaying little to no regard for baal tashchis (the Torah injunction against the wanton waste of food, in this instance).

Hoarding bottles of wine meant to be consumed by guests (note the plural form) is tantamount to stealing, while overeating (as in gorging) is detrimental to one’s health.

Taking into account that caterers put leftover untouched foods to good use by giving them away to the needy (as in “hungry”) adds “taking from the poor” to the list of offenses committed by the overindulgent.

Your letter brings to mind the biblical verse in Devarim of “Vayishman Yeshurun va’yivat shomanta” – (Yeshurun grew fat and kicked), referring to a spiritual decline and arrogance borne of an abundance of physical comfort and prosperity.

Ironically, Pesach celebrates our spiritual emergence and is the time of year when we embark on a course of spiritual fortification to ready us for Mattan Torah. At the Seder table, whether at home or away, we invite all who are hungry to come and eat – Kol dichfin yasei v’yachol… in the hope that we (all of us here in golus today, rich and poor alike) will next year be free people — leshanah haba’ah bnei chorin.

Let us all help this become a reality.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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