Isn’t it ironic?
We were about to celebrate our Exodus from Egypt, our being released from bondage, our being able to escape our shackles.
But now, our government told us to go into lock down mode, to refrain from joining loved ones and friends for the Seder, to not venture out of our homes more than 100 meters (300 feet).
About an hour before the festival of Pesach was to start, a message on the WhatsApp group of our apartment buildings’ complex flashed. Isaac, a older widower living alone, a floor down from us, asked, “Has anyone received his order?” Not sure what he was referring to, I answered “What order?” He replied “An order for food or something similar. I ordered meals from a caterer for the holiday and it hasn’t come yet”.
Knowing that all food businesses had closed a few hours ago, and it was most unlikely that food deliveries were still being made, I called Isaac to discuss the situation with him. “Do you have enough food? Do you have wine and matzot for the Seder?” He replied that he had a bit of each and some odds and ends in his apartment. He also indicated that he could probably defrost some salami and hot dogs to eat. I hung up knowing that the situation wasn’t precarious for Isaac, but it wouldn’t be a pleasant holiday for him.
I told my wife about my conversation with Isaac, and asked her if we had any extra food that we could give him. She indicated that we had chicken that she had made for the main dish of our meal. I said “Great, I usually am too full to eat much by the time we get to that point in the meal. The wine, matzoh, and maror (bitter herbs) fill me up so much”.
By the time I returned to the WhatsApp chat, others from the group had started to chime in.
“I can give you a kugel (baked vegetable casserole)”.
“We have a set of hand baked Matzot that we will happily give you”. Another also offered packets of Matzot,
“I have a lot of charoset (sweet paste made of fruit and nuts)”.
“We have chicken soup and kneidel (matzo balls) that you can pick up in 10 minutes”.
“We have a six pack of Coke Zero if you would like”.
“We will leave the soup and dessert outside our door”.
“We left a cake outside your door”.
“We added a bottle of grape juice”
And I added in “We have some chicken. I’ll leave it next to your door”.
The next morning I spotted Isaac on his porch and asked “Did you have enough to eat last night?”. He smiled, and raised his hand with his thumb thrust up. When we went outside a little later for a short walk, we spotted Rochelle, a woman who lived alone in our building. I said “Thanks for helping out Isaac last night. She replied “I just left him off some lunch. My delivery had arrived and i had plenty left over”. I said “You are a Tzadekes (righteous woman)”, all the while mentally kicking myself for not thinking about his possible lunch needs.
During this holiday (and possibly for a while to come) we may be locked down. We may be stuck by ourselves without joy and companionship of our children and grandchildren.
But as long as we think of others and help those in need, our spirits will remain free.