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Once upon a time in a small city in Midwestern America, there lived a very kindly and generous rabbi named Rabbi Shmotkin

Four Boxes of Matzah

Four Boxes of Matzah

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Once upon a time in a small city in Midwestern America, there lived a very kindly and generous rabbi named Rabbi Shmotkin. Every year it was his practice, at Passover time, to mail out boxes of Shmurah Matzah in order to bring a feeling of celebration to the Passover Festival. This is the story of four boxes of this Shmurah Matzah.

The first box arrived at the home of a friendless, middle-aged accountant, who lived alone and whose sole companions were his tank of tropical fish. Since tropical fish were not known as big talkers, our accountant often sat at home at night listening to the radio and wondering.

He remembers going to the door that afternoon to pick up his mail. When he opened the door, a cardboard box fell at his feet. At first he thought it was a medium size pizza that had been wrongly delivered to his home, but when he opened it up and saw the letter inside, a smile came to his face, a rare one for that time in his life, and he said a special thanks to Rabbi Shmotkin, just for remembering him.

The next afternoon, the friendless little accountant again went to the door to collect his daily portion of "occupant mail." Again when he opened the door, another cardboard box fell at his feet. He examined it closely and again found that it was Shmurah Matzah from Lubavitch House. "Strange," he thought, "one box was nice, but two seems a bit extravagant on the Rabbi's part." "Maybe Lubavitch have more money than I think," he said to himself, "perhaps I have been giving in excess," he noted in his accountant-like brain.

The afternoon after that, our sad accountant again went to the door for his mail. This time he noticed a certain trepidation in his step and a slight hesitation as he opened the door. You guessed it, in fell another box of Shmurah Matzah.

Now you must understand that this accountant knew a thing or two about computers, so that his initial thought was that maybe he was in some sort of Chassidic computer loop, like when the government forgets that it has sent you your tax refund and decides to send you the same tax refund every week for the rest of your life. "Why," he pondered, "couldn't I get into a government refund loop, instead of a Shmurah Matzah loop? Just my mazel," he said to himself, "everyone else gets money when there is a mistake, I get Matzah."

The afternoon after that, he went as usual to get his mail, opened the door and... you guessed it, in fell a fourth box of Shmurah Matzah. "Shmotkin is trying to tell me something," our accountant thought to himself, "but what could it be?

"Four boxes of Shmurah Matzah has to be a sign, like the four questions, only more expensive," our little friend pondered. "What shall I do? What shall I do?" Finally, after an excess of soul searching, he decided to do exactly as Rabbi Shmotkin had done--to give the Shmurah Matzah away. Since he didn't know many people, he gave away two of the boxes to people at work, one to a Jewish woman who had married a Christian and one to a Jewish man who was married to a non-Jewish woman. The third box he took with him to his Seder dinner and the fourth he kept for himself.

The little accountant's Seder dinner was most depressing. His father's wife was quite ill and could barely sit at the table. Her days were not to be long, it seemed to all assembled, who nodded among themselves with little knowing looks. When it came time to display and taste the first Matzah, the accountant's stepmother brightened up. "Who brought the Shmurah Matzah to the Seder?" she asked, rather strongly, everyone thought.

"Why I did," responded the little accountant.

"I really want to thank you," she said. "Every day to me is now very precious, and with this unexpected gift, you have done the impossible, for you have made this day somehow even more precious to me than usual."

Everyone was beaming at the table and somehow a very sad and distant night had turned into a very close knit one. "Rabbi Shmotkin is doing something right when he gives this Matzah away," the accountant thought to himself.

Three days later when he returned to the office, the man he had given the Matzah to approached the accountant almost before he had had a chance to have his morning coffee. "You know," he said, "that special Matzah you gave me for Passover, it had a rather profound effect on my wife, who not only isn't Jewish, but she's not even very religious. We don't have a Seder at my house on Passover any more, but I passed out your Matzah and she was fascinated by it. She could not believe how ancient it looked, and she said it gave her a feeling of connection with a past she barely knew existed.

"And you know what's really surprising? She made me take down our dusty unused bible and that very night, (it happened to have been Passover eve) she had me read the entire story of Exodus out loud to her and the kids. You know women never cease to amaze me."

"Well that's just astounding," the little accountant thought. "It's hardly a conversion, but this program of Rabbi Shmotkin's certainly has had an effect in the most unexpected of fashions."

He walked slowly toward his office, when the Jewish woman who had married the gentile virtually accosted him in the hall. "I really want to thank you for that Matzah you gave us for Passover. You know every year my daughter, husband and I go to my parents' house for a semi-Seder. It's really just a meal, because my husband isn't much interested. When our daughter opened the Matzah box at the house and gave everyone a piece and then she read the rabbi's letter that came with the Matzah out loud, you know, my husband said to me, 'She really likes this service stuff,' and he agreed to let me send her to Hebrew Sunday school. Before that night he was against the whole idea, I don't know what changed his mind, but I think the rabbi's Matzah had something to do with it."

Needless to say, I was in a state of shock from these revelations, and had no small feeling of guilt about hanging on to my own box. Look at the good I could have done for someone else, if I had given all of Rabbi Shmotkin's Shmurah Matzah away.

But then I remembered how I felt when I got my first box and was kind of glad that I had set it aside.

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Discussion (17)
April 6, 2012
Four boxes of Matzah
Good story. What did the Rabbi write in his letters?
Frances Stotter
Grove City, Ohio
jewishabington.com
March 21, 2012
Interfaith marriage
Interfaith marriages generally seem to entail Judaism being lost or diminished. When the honeymoon is over the tears start. I am saddened yet gladdened it took a simple box of matzos to give those two couples a kickstart to create a Jewish home.
Ellen Francis
Broken Hill, Australia
chabadofrara.org
November 2, 2011
Dear Anonymous from Boulder
B"H By saying that interfaith marriage is not a positive thing, by discouraging it as gently and as lovingly as possible, we are not practicing reverse discrimination or anything else that you describe in your comment. Sad to say, many, many Jews know little of their heritage and pass down very little of that to their children. Since these parents manner of dress, speech, and action often mirrors that of non-Jews, their children see no difference between Jews and non-Jews, and they intermarry. I am proud to say that I have many non-Jewish friends, but I do not want nor do I expect my children to marry one. My friends, educated and thoughtful people that they are, know and respect this. All three of my children identify strongly as Jews and know that when it is time for them to marry, it will be under a chupah and not at an altar. The groom will be wearing a kipah, and the bride will be wearing a modest white gown.
Natana Pesya Kulak0fski
Worcester, MA/US
April 21, 2011
Matzo Mitzvah
This story says to me how powerfull and far reaching the act of a simple Mitzvah can be. I am very blessed to have such a Rabbi here who does for people in a quite and dignified way good deeds that influence me to live a better life by following his example.
Steve
Metairie, La
jnet.org
April 13, 2011
A US Navy Seder at sea
Many years ago, our ship docked in Gibraltar a week before Pesach. During Pesacjh, our ship would be at sea. So I had the idea of looking for a synagogue in Gibraltar. Some people claimed to be unaware of any synagogue. Finally, I was directed to the home of a rabbi. After I met him, I asked about the location of the synagogue. He led me through his home to the rear yard. It was hidden from the street. The interior was attractive. Before leaving, the rabbi gave me a box of matzos. A week later, I assembled the four Jewish sailors and held a short seder for the group.
Jack
Midland Park, NJ
April 13, 2011
Anonymous from Boulder
Interfaith marriage is just fine by Jews. It's only when a Jew marries a non-Jew that it's unacceptable. The only reason it's a problem is because G-d does not allow it.
Since He is in charge of His world we make every effort to follow His will.
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY
April 3, 2011
Shemura Matzo gift
This is just a beautiful story and reminds us how when we share our gifts however small they mauseem at the time we get large results. Its good to share.
Sandra L. Johnson
highland, indiana
March 29, 2010
God Recognizes all relationships as sacred
I realize that iinterfaith marriage is not considered acceptable in many Jewish households. However, perpetuating reverse discrimination does nothing to improve the world. In fact one might consider this xenophobic and destructive to peace in the world. Because of history and the terrible abuse the Jewish people have endured they have become mistrustful of other cultures. I would ask all Jews to look past the fear and open your hearts to accept other cultures into your life. Exclusion and separation is not in the image of goodness or life enhancing. Learn to forgive and let go of the past. This does not mean to forget past wrongs, rather this encourages one to move out of fear and pain into acceptance. Perpetuating division in families because one member was not born a Jew is wrong. We have all been taught prejudice from a very young age this becomes engrained in our subconscious. To heal ourselves requires a spiritual awareness that transcends the physical mind or body, just love.
Anonymous
Boulder, USA
March 22, 2010
Dear Zushe
I, too, had a non-Jewish spouse.
Although there is nothing positive to say about interfaith marriages, I have this to say about my particular situation in the light of how it may apply to others in the same situation.
I entered into my interfaith marriage almost totally ignorant of Judaism. I didn't know that it is contrary to Jewish law to marry a non-Jew. It was during this marriage that I did tshuvah (returned to observance).
When I ordered and ate my first shmurah matzah one Passover many years ago, I knew I was doing something right. Machine-made matzah just simply cannot compare with matzah shmurah. The machine cannot utter blessings while the matzah is being made: only a person can. And that you can taste.
During my marriage I was encouraged to do as many mitzvahs as I could, all by Jews who knew I had intermarried.
In short, to encourage an intermarried Jew to celebrate his faith is not a sin: it is a mitzvah. And as with any mitzvah, you never know what its affect on the world will be.
Natana Pesya Kulakofski
Worcester, MA USA
April 1, 2009
Four boxes of Matzah
What could be wrong with promoting positive aspects about interfaith married couples. It's a reality, let's make the best of it.
Thanks to Chabad.org for the story.
Stefano Giuseppe Manzoni
Ottawa, Canada
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