If you follow any Chabad rabbis on social media, you may have noticed the pictures of mile-long receipts and overflowing shopping carts they posted from their pre-Passover grocery trips. At Chabad of Arizona State University, under the leadership of Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel Tiechtel, there is a designated shopper on staff who buys the many supplies needed to feed the droves of hungry students who attend the weekly Shabbat dinners. Typically, he goes into overdrive in the days preceding Passover, but in March of this year, he received word that his father was very ill, and left town on short notice to be with him.

Large scale shopping like that is not really our forte, but we were there to assist with whatever was needed, so we listened carefully to the detailed instructions and were on our way. Our first stop was at an Asian market to buy the salmon for the Seder meal. Although salmon is a kosher fish, when buying it at a non-kosher store there is the concern that it may have been filleted using the knife and cutting board used for a previous non-kosher order and possibly have some of that residue. The simple solution is to ask for everything to be washed well, verify the cleanliness, and observe the process. We had ordered twenty-three pounds of fish so this took the better part of an hour, especially since we had to explain everything with a significant language barrier. When we were finally ready to pay, we noticed we had missed a text message from Rabbi Teichtel asking us to increase the order to forty pounds. Another customer had been serviced after us, so we had to start with having everything washed down again. This time, we were painfully cognizant of our large audience observing this unusual scene with varying levels of patience, so you can imagine our relief when we were once again checking out 30 minutes later.

“Wow, that’s a lot of fish!” the young man behind us commented. Incidentally, while the other customers were mostly absorbed with their phones, he had been avidly watching the proceedings. “Is it for a party?”

“Yes, it’s for the Passover Seder,” we replied.

“Oh, so it’s for your family?”

“Well, I guess you can say our extended family. We are helping out with the Chabad Seder at Arizona State University.”

“That’s so cool!” He became really excited. “I’m David and I’m Jewish and I live close to campus! I attended Lehigh University for undergrad and I used to go Rabbi Greenberg at the Chabad there all the time. I haven’t been able to find any rabbis since I moved here a few months ago. This must be my lucky day!”

“That’s great! And just in time for the Seder too! Let’s get you all the info and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon!”

We exchanged contact information with David, checked out, and lugged our haul to the car with a spring in our step. It’s such a great feeling when you can see the pieces come together, and even more so when Divine Providence reframes a perceived negative experience into a positive one.

David showed up all smiles to the Seder at Arizona State University and was able to meet the rabbi and the community of more than 100 students who call Chabad home. It was our special treat watching him get acquainted with his new family. During the festive meal, we couldn’t help but chuckle as he vividly described the hapless scene in the Asian market. Thank G‑d for happy endings!