It was almost time to bentsh licht on the first night of Pesach. The table was set with all their most beautiful china and there in the middle, in its rightful place of honor, was the beautiful Seder dish that Dina and Yosef had bought just last year when they had first made their own Seder. Until then they had always been hosted at either Dina’s or Yosef’s parents’ homes, but after they were blessed with their seventh child they had decided that it was really time they made their own Seder.
And the children were thrilled. Although they missed some of the special tricks that Zaidy always had up his sleeve to keep them awake and asking questions, it was special to have their own Tatty give the Seder and, without any cousins around the table, they had a chance to say all the things they had learnt at school.
Tehilla had been busy arranging all the napkins in an intricate design around the glass cups and each little child had his own silver becher that he had been given in kindergarten together with their own home-made Haggadah.
They had helped Mommy make the charoset and looked from a distance as Tatty burnt the egg and the bone for the Seder dish and grated the eye-watering maror.
Suddenly there was a knock on door. It was their neighbor from one flight up. He looked very agitated.
“Do you by any chance have a spare Seder plate… ours broke?”
“Oh. I’m really sorry, but no, I’m afraid we only have the one we use.” Dina was about to add that they could really use any plate – it didn’t have to be one specially bought for the Seder, but something stopped her. The couple were ba’alei teshuva, newly religious, and she didn’t want it to sound like she was giving them religious advice.
Dina continued with her last minute preparations – but she felt uneasy. She called Yosef into the kitchen.
“Yosef would you be very upset if I let the couple upstairs have our Seder dish.”
“No, of course not – you know a dish is just a dish and they could use anything.”
“Yes, we know that, but what if the fact that theirs is broken is causing them to feel bad. Maybe one of them is angry at whoever broke it? Maybe it’s making someone sad and guilty just before Leil HaSeder – that would be an awful way to start Pesach. It would be terrible to ruin their Pesach for the sake of a plate.”
Yosef took the plate, removed all their food, washed it and ran upstairs to give it to their neighbors. He hadn’t even bothered to think of a plausible excuse as to why they had suddenly found a spare Seder dish and he hoped they wouldn’t ask him any questions. But they were so pleased to receive it that they didn’t ask a thing.
Yosef ran back to his home and hastily they took a plate from their dinner set and arranged the Seder items on it.
The younger children were, not surprisingly, upset. “But why do we have to be the ones with a not nice Seder dish. They could also have used one from their dinner set.”
‘Yes,” Dina said. “They could have. But every time they would have looked at their simple Seder dish they would have been reminded of the nice one which broke and felt bad about it. But now they won’t as they’ll have our lovely Seder dish on their table. And every time we look at our simple Seder plate this year, we’ll be reminded of the mitzvah we did – so everyone will have a good feeling. And that’s much more important than a fancy Seder dish on Pesach isn’t it?”