The evening before Passover is a busy one. Aside from the countless tasks needed to prepare for the joyous holiday, that evening is the time when Jews all over search their homes for any remnants of leaven (chametz), which are carefully collected and burned the next morning.

On that night, Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, typically prayed the evening service quickly so he could begin the important mitzvah of cleansing his home of chametz as soon as possible.

One year, however, he prayed with intense fervor for several hours, almost like it was Yom Kippur. Afterward he secluded himself in his room for a long time, deep in thought.

The Maggid’s students were perplexed and waited anxiously for their teacher to leave his room and perform the mitzvah of the night. Finally, some of the closest students ventured to knock on his door to ask: “Rebbe, what is happening? It is already well past midnight!”

“It is not good,” the Rebbe answered, “the Heavens are holding me back from doing the search.”

Several hours later, the Maggid finally emerged from his room and announced: “There is a Jew in our area who does not have matzah for Passover, and I cannot search for chametz until we find him and take care of him!”

The chassidim immediately organized groups and began a thorough search of the city. Alas, they returned empty-handed, having not found a single Jewish person without matzah.

The Rebbe was quiet for a while and then replied: “I cannot do the search until you find that Jew! Look far and wide, even outside the city.”

Finally, they succeeded. Two chassidim had made their way to a tiny village and found the only Jew in the hamlet. When they woke him up and asked if he had matzah, he let out a great sigh and told them his story.

A tailor by trade, he would save his extra money to give to those in need. Every year before Passover, he would come to the city and contribute a respectable sum to the Maggid to distribute among the needy, and he would personally also distribute funds to help others obtain their needs for the holiday.

This year, he had been bedridden for many months and his savings had dwindled to the extent that it was already the eve of Passover and he had absolutely nothing with which to celebrate the holiday, not even matzah.

Much to his surprise, the chassidim began laughing with relief and insisted that he come with them to the Maggid.

As soon as the tailor arrived, the Maggid gave him a warm welcome and handed him a large sum of money to buy holiday provisions for himself and to distribute to others as was his custom. Then, at long last and with great joy, the Maggid performed the search for chametz together with his students.

Have we done everything we can to ensure that every Jew has what he or she needs for Passover? How about those who are distant and isolated?