Finding myself in the Middle East

Sunday, May 8, 2011

70 Faces

Four days before Pesach, we went food shopping. I lost the kids in the candy isle as my husband and I went from item to item, inspecting the kashrus, kitniut content, and the outrageous special-for-Pesach price and comparing each to our standards of kashrus, ashkenazic non-kitniot eating background, and wallet. Promising the kids some candy as soon as we paid for it, we lugged our overloaded carts to the checkout line.

"Look at that," Outdoorsman said quietly.

I looked. Ahead of us in line was a family that apeared to be chiloni, not religious. They, too had a large shopping cart and were waiting paitently for their turn. "What, them? What about them?"

"Look at what they are buying."

Matzah. Cheeses. Candy. Tuna. Nasty looking kosher for Pesach mayonaise. Just like what we had in our cart.

I was tired, and thinking about all the cooking that I had to do. "Same as us. A little lighter on the eggs. What about it?"

"I don't know how religious they are. They seem to be chiloni. Maybe they are traditional or something. But they are buying food kosher for Pesach just like us."

"Because that's what's in the store. I don't think they're thinking about it."

"Exactly. Exactly. They are just buying what's in the store. They are not thinking about it. And it's all kosher for Pesach."

My bleach-stained hands hurt. The kids remembered the candy in the cart and decided to ask for it early. "So?"

"So." my husband's eyes were shining. "This is what they fought for. This is what they are fighting for. Don't you see? It's a parking lot open on shabbas. It's food that they want to keep kosher. We don't get it, and we think that we can do better. But they see a war going on, and this--" my husband swept his arm out to encompass the whole store--"this is a battle they won. And the people don't realize it, don't think about it; but in spite of themselves, they are keeping kosher. Even on Pesach."

Maybe I think that I have a better strategy because I don't even understand the war.Or maybe the path to showing your love for Hashem's torah is as varied as the people, the beautiful people who are keeping Pesach or shabbas on purpose or in spite of themselves because a battle has been fought and won.

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