Very reluctantly, I went away for the entire duration of Pesach. For the first time ever, I allowed myself to get talked into going to my children (versus my catering to them over the many years in our home).
Since I do like to keep my private life private and can’t see how my status (married, divorced, or other) has any bearing on the content of this letter, I’ll leave that tidbit up to the reader’s imagination.
Let’s just say I was privileged to be a participant of a most vivacious Passover setting ever. Besides being kind of a guest, I was very much an onlooker as well.
In fact there was so much going on at the same time, it was hard to keep track of it all. No, it was not a storybook setting. (Is there such a thing really?)
To begin with, the hosts are the most hospitable ever. No, not in a fanfare way at all. A casual remark by a relative or acquaintance, or nonchalant comment by one of their children that so-and-so is weighing his/her options for yom tov meals, has a welcome mat produced instantly and quietly.
Modest accommodations to boot. Once seated, it was difficult, if not impossible, to play musical chairs. For some rambunctious children and growing boys, it was a feat to literally push themselves away from the table (whether on a ruse to help out or to simply get up and stretch their aching limbs).
Of course the sedarim were more tame, more serious, yet there were the early squabbles: why does the youngest, girl yet, get to ask the Four Questions first; middle children not waiting for an invite to excitedly recite their d’var Torahs; a tiny kitchen space that virtually all adults (over the age of 12) vied to help serve from; and then there was Afikomen time when it was oddly, conspicuously, quiet.
No, the little ones hadn’t fallen asleep; they were captivated elsewhere by the furry pet their last minute guest had brought along: a cute little white bunny, special breed yet, that ran circles around her adoring little fans.
There were serious moments, funny moments, and tender moments. There were impromptu visits for a hearty Kiddish (our hospitable host sends his eldest ahead to let the gracious hostess know what to expect), and Hatzolah calls that had members rushing out just as our seudah began.
The cataclysmic events didn’t escape us either. Just when we thought we had it rough (below freezing temps one day, scorchingly hot the next), our hearts instantly went out to the less fortunate among us around the globe.
Here and there I’d find myself wondering how my home was faring on its own. I’d left with mixed feelings altogether, and predictions of freezing temps (heat thermostat set accordingly) and some warm-up during Chol HaMoed days. Were my pretty plants dehydrating and drooping from the record-breaking chamsin-like weather?
I briefly entertained the notion of calling on a neighbor or relative to check things out. But as a strong proponent of bituach Hashem (relying on and trusting my Creator), I knew I was being tested.
Baruch Hashem I’d seen enough in my life to know that Hashem runs the world and that I can safely trust Him to take care of my needs.
My Father in Heaven didn’t let me down. Not only were my prized plants still standing upright, some didn’t need any water or show any fatigue at all! They’d miraculously held out. Moreover, as we walked through the door, there was no indication of any heat wave or stuffiness at all, just a comfortable ambiance. Hashem concerned and caring!
Humbled to the core
Thank you for your beautiful and touching letter. I know it wasn’t easy for you to sit down and relate your surreal experience (as you called it when we corresponded).
Your brief but succinct paragraph – “Just when we thought we had it rough…. our hearts instantly went out to the less fortunate among us around the globe” – struck a chord and said it all.
The freezing, with no heat, no lights, following an ice storm (in Canada) on the first Seder night, wiped all of our petty-in-comparison concerns away in a flash.
There was flooding in Florida, fire alarms going off in Connecticut in the early a.m. while guests were still asleep, umpteen flight delays in far away places, and more …. yet every one of us was feeling for everyone else.
Best of all, we choose to look back with the fondest of memories, inconveniences and discomfort quickly forgotten.
Hashem is looking down at His beloved children, a nation like no other, and takes note:
Mi K’amcha Yisrael!