This morning, there was a knock at the door. That’s not unusual, but the person who came was not someone we see that often. He lives here in town, but had just come back from a trip to NY and saw someone we know from many many years ago. Actually, it’s a couple I had met in college 43 years ago (!!!!). At that time, they were newlyweds and newly-involved in Judaism. We had not been in touch with them for a while. We did get another message from them a number of years ago, but I couldn’t find where I put their email for whatever reason. It wasn’t meant to be then, I guess.
So today, this fellow tells us that our old friend recently had a stroke, but is recovering very well and is happier than ever. He’s into photography now after spending many years in engineering. Mission accomplished once he hands ISHI a card. It must have their contact info, right?
Nice photo on one side; a quote on the other. Website mentioned; email mentioned; tag for photo. Great!
Except the website doesn’t exist, or it doesn’t have any content.
And the email I sent to that address is rejected.
I sent a message to the wife on Facebook. It doesn’t look like she uses it very much, so I’m not sure when she’ll get the message.
So I feel a bit frustrated with the almost-contact. And, as I alluded in my title, I had just thought of them earlier that morning! Already by the time that we received the message, I could not recall why I thought of them.
Was it the story of how they made their own wine for Passover that year that I met them and he went to accompany a guest out the door after the seder and she didn’t know where he was, but since she was pregnant, she went to sleep, only to find out that he had passed out on a snowbank outside and didn’t come in until morning?
Nope. That wasn’t it.
Was it that they were my first guides to vegetarian cooking, since I didn’t know what I was doing?
Maybe. I really don’t remember.
But that’s the thing; it doesn’t really matter. People I knew over 40 years ago suddenly come to mind? It doesn’t need a reason.
I was thinking that I’m closer to the magic age of 70 that is mentioned in the Haggadah, Rabbi’ Elazar ben Azariah, “Harei anikeven shiv’im shanah” — “I am like a man of seventy years”. And I remember when we were watching my father get overwhelmed as he reached that age, and thank G-d, a lot more (until 120!).
And so I don’t know what it is that made me think of them, but I’ll be thinking of them some more, along with a lot of other things.
Like Cabbage Patch Kids.
And how the word in Hebrew for cabbage is the same as for cherub.
cabbage, cherub, angel
And there’s the midrash about how the babies of the Children of Israel while enslaved were hidden under the ground to escape the Egyptians.
R. Awira expounded: As the reward for the righteous women who lived in that generation were the Israelites delivered from Egypt. When they went to draw water, the Holy One, blessed be He, arranged that small fishes should enter their pitchers, which they drew up half full of water and half full of fishes. They then set two pots on the fire, one for hot water and the other for the fish, which they carried to their husbands in the field, and washed, anointed, fed, gave them to drink and had intercourse with them among the sheepfolds, as it is said: When ye lie among the sheepfolds etc.4 As the reward for ‘When ye lie among the sheepfolds’, the Israelites merited the spoliation of the Egyptians, as it is said: As the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her pinions with yellow gold.5 After the women had conceived they returned to their homes; and when the time of childbirth arrived, they went and were delivered in the field beneath the apple-tree, as it is said: Under the apple-tree I caused thee to come forth [from thy mother’s womb] etc.6 The Holy One, blessed be He, sent down someone from the high heavens who washed and straightened the limbs [of the babes] in the same manner that a midwife straightens the limbs of a child; as it is said: And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to cleanse thee.7 He also provided for them two cakes, one of oil and one of honey, as it is said: And He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil etc.8 When the Egyptians noticed them, they went to kill them; but a miracle occurred on their behalf so that they were swallowed in the ground, and [the Egyptians] brought oxen and ploughed over them, as it is said: The ploughers ploughed upon my back.9 After they had departed, [the Israelite women with their babes] broke through [the earth] and came forth like the herbage of the field, as it is said: I caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field;10 and when [the babes] had grown up, they came in flocks to their homes, as it is said: And thou didst increase and wax great and didst come with ornaments11 — read not with ornaments [ba’adi ‘adayim] but in flocks [be’edre ‘adarim]. At the time the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself by the Red Sea, they recognised Him first, as it is said: This is my God and I will praise Him.12