Photo Credit: Jewish Press

And I hated all my toil that I toil under the sun, that I should leave it to the man who will be after me. – Authored by the wisest of all men, Shlomo HaMelech.

This week I called Gitty and I told her, “Guess what?! What we studied in Koheles actually happened to me!”


While Gitty tended to her children, I began my tale.

This past week my husband decided he needed a break from work. He rented a room in the Clove, a lovely hotel in Palm Tree (aka Kiryas Yoel or Monroe), upstate NY. The plan was that I would teach on Thursday in Brooklyn and then take a bus to Monroe to meet up with my husband and stay for Shabbos.

Wednesday found me deep in cleaning, cooking, and baking. My married daughter would be spending Shabbos with my younger children at home. I wanted to prepare Shabbos for them, as well as set aside food for me and my husband for Shabbos.

I come from a family of professional cooks. Several of my nieces sell their baked goods professionally. We’re really serious about our challahs. I baked two types of sourdough, spelt, and hi-gluten challahs. I baked and cooked salmon and gefilte fish, with a variety of dips. I prepared different types of kugels. You get the drift. At four in the morning, I called it a day or a night, perhaps?!

Thursday morning I deliberated whether to pack the food in a box or a suitcase. I like packaging food in boxes, but how would I transport it to school and then to a bus. I opted for a large purple suitcase. Each pan was wrapped in Saran Wrap and the dips and fish were put into special plastic containers. I checked the fridge and freezer to make sure no dish was left behind. I zipped the suitcase and off I went to teach.

When I entered the school building, I asked the front desk secretary if I could keep the suitcase in her office. I teach on the fourth floor and in addition to not wanting to drag the valise up four flights, I didn’t want my students speculating about whether I was headed to the Bahamas or the Dominican Republic. The secretary was quite gracious and showed me where to park the luggage.

At four-fifteen, after dismissal, I ran down the stairs and grabbed my suitcase. I had a five-minute window to catch the bus to Monroe. Huffing and puffing I put the valise in the special luggage compartment, paid the driver, and looked for a seat to settle myself in. Then my cellphone rang. It was my principal.

“Mrs. Horowitz, did you leave a purple suitcase in the front office?” she asked. “Yes, I did,” I responded. “O.K.,” she continued. “Your suitcase is empty.”

“Empty?!” I asked, all shocked. “Are you sure?”

“But don’t worry,” my principal Mrs. Schwartz resumed. “I will bring all the food that was taken out to your house.”

“Mrs. Schwartz, I’m on the bus right now to upstate New York, very far from my house, “I responded. What should I do?”

At this point we got cut off. Now how did that happen?

I listened to my voicemail. This is what I heard:

“Hi Mrs. Horowitz! I opened your suitcase and thought it was for me. I took the Reziel HaMalach (a tiny sefer in a plastic holder that many people keep on them when they travel as a shemira – protection), the challahs, and the apple kugel. It’s so lovely that you label each packed food with ‘L’kovod Shabbos Kodesh’ (in honor of the Holy Shabbos). If you call me, I’ll tell you my version of the story.”

I adjusted my seat and dialed the number on my call log. Mrs. Rosner, a senior staff member at my school, answered on the second ring.

“Can I tell you my version of what happened?” Mrs. Rosner asked. “I’d love to explain what transpired.”

“O.K., let’s hear,” I replied.

Mrs. Rosner’s sibling was marrying off a child overseas. Our school was deep in production practice and Mrs. Rosner felt like it was not the right time to travel, yet her husband encouraged her to attend the family simcha. Mrs. Rosner mentioned her dilemma to Mrs. Stern, another senior staff member who advised her to fly just overnight and offered to bring her a hand luggage so she wouldn’t even have to check in her luggage.

Mrs. Stern told Mrs. Rosner, “I’m leaving the hand luggage in the front office and I’m even putting a treat inside. You must go!”

Mrs. Rosner spent the day supervising practice and at four o’clock ran into the front office to look for a small valise. She only found a massive suitcase which she really didn’t want to take as she was sure the airlines would not let her keep it with her on the plane. She told herself, however, that she must open the suitcase and take out the treat and thank Mrs. Stern for her efforts. She opened the suitcase and was flabbergasted to find not only some cake, but an entire prepared Shabbos. She promptly tried dialing Mrs. Stern to thank her and tell her that so much food was so thoughtful, but unnecessary. After attempting several times and not getting through, she took out a few items and the rest of the food put on the side, as she noticed that some of the food was dripping. She left school to buy a smaller hand luggage and pack for her flight which would leave Sunday night.

When Mrs. Rosner was done with her account of the saga, I told her, “Mrs. Rosner, my food is really good. I want you to keep whatever you took and enjoy it in good health! Just remember to heat it up before Shabbos as everything tastes better when it’s warm!”

On Friday morning my husband and I visited a grocery and a takeout store in Monroe. Baruch Hashem there was a plethora of kosher choices. We would definitely not go hungry on Shabbos.

“Yes,” I told Gitty. “A person can cook and bake and pack. He can have everything in his possession. If Hashem wills, it will all go to someone else. Only Hashem is in charge!”


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