Pesach has ended. All the special dishes, glassware and utensils have been put away. Hopefully they will be used next year when family and friends can join us.
I was in my kitchen staring at a photo which I see every day. It is a photo of my eshet chayil, my woman of valor, my late beloved, cherished and sainted wife Rahel.
In the photo she is seen smiling as she looks at trays of apple strudel and honey-cakes which she had baked for the new year, Rosh HaShanah.
For Pesach, we removed the photo lest the sight of the delicious pastries would tempt us to nibble on a piece of chametz which is forbidden to us on this major Jewish 8 day holiday.
My wife was a very remarkable woman. She awoke at six o’clock every morning, washed and dressed and began her long prayers. No morsel of food nor any drop of water touched her lips until she had finished her daily custom of praising God, Creator of the universe.
After that, she would drop small coins into a tzedakah (charity) box destined for Yad Sarah, the Friends of the IDF soldiers fund and Magen David Adom , Israel’s Red Cross.
On Friday evenings after the Shabbat meal she would read the Torah portion of the week, the haftorah (writings of the prophets), and even open a volume of the Talmud. Her thirst for observance of Jewish sabbaths and holidays knew no bounds.
She had in her smallest finger more knowledge and more wisdom than I have in my entire body. That is why I always called her in a Polish term Swieta Roochish, Saint Rahel. She was the light of my life. There were none like her.
The only exception were the two other women of valor, my devoted and loving daughters Sharona and Liora. Both are different in their temperaments but both are their mother’s children in every respect.
Sharona is a fabulous cook and baker, preserving many of her mother’s recipes. On all Jewish holidays she follows her mother’s recipes, often adding ingredients of her choice. On Pesach, she and her sister Liora prepare food for the sedarim and for the entire 8 days of the holiday.
Liora spent dozens of hours cleaning the apartment. Stove, oven, microwave, freezer, refrigerator are all emptied and thoroughly scrubbed. Not a single crumb remains. Following those arduous tasks she scrubs the floors and vaccuums all the carpets. And then she goes to do the same cleaning in her own apartment !
At the seder table she joins with me and Sharona in reading and chanting in Hebrew the entire haggadah of Pesach. She even closes her eyes from watching when I snatch the afikoman from its hiding place.
Liora prays in the synagogue every Shabbat and holidays sitting in the seat where her mother used to sit. Sharona lives far from a synagogue and she prays in her home. God will hear her prayers wherever she may be.
I feel like the richest man in the world. I had my treasure and I lost her. But now I have our two wonderful adult daughters and a son, all who take excellent care of me and are devoted to my well-being.
Liora reminded me of a tragic day in 2001 when she and Rahel were walking on Jaffa road in Jerusalem.
Suddenly there was a large explosion. Arab terrorists had blown up the Sbarro restaurant nearby. Liora was frightened but Rahel was calm and comforted her.
Since that time Liora always remembers her beloved mother as “a pillar of strength”.
God, in His love and compassion, blessed me with the best wife in the world, my Tel-Aviv sabra, two wonderful daughters and a loving son.
Seven years ago, Liora bought a kalba knaanit, a beautiful Israeli Canaan puppy from the kennel at Shaar Hagai near Jerusalem. Atara Carmit has been my happiness and constant companion since Rahel’s death.
She lies beside me on the bed, sits near me at the table, puts a paw on me two or three times telling me that she wants me to share some morsels of my food with her, enjoys the Shabbat challah, and often small pieces of cooked chicken or beef which I smuggle and feed her under the table to Liora’s rebuke.
In my old old age I take immense joy from my children, in particular from my two daughters. It reminds me of a proverb which I heard many years ago (and find it to be true):
“Your son is your son until he takes a wife. Your daughters are daughters all of their life”.
Pesach has ended. It was not the happiest Pesach due to the pandemic which prevented the whole family from being with us.
But the sadness was much diminished because of the presence of Sharona and Liora at the seder table.
As I began, I have been blessed with three women of valor, my wife and my two daughters.
I pray for their good health, success and happiness and ask God to give me a few more years of my life to share with them.
But at this time God is so busy trying to merge Netanyahu and Gantz out of their stubbornness in order to renew a “lost” government, He has less time to answer my prayers.
But I keep trying. Every single day. “Ain braira”… I have no choice. There is no alternative to seeking help from our Eternal One God.
Baruch shmo! Blessed be His Name.