| Parshah |

Beautiful Traveling Weather

Being thankful requires noticing all the components of the chesed that’s being done for us


“Today you are going out, in the month of spring.” (Shemos 13:4)


Of the four parshiyos contained in tefillin, two are in parshas Bo. In the first of these parshiyos, the above pasuk appears to be an unnecessary statement.
We all know Pesach is in the spring, so why must the Torah point this out to us — especially to the generation that actually left Mitzrayim?
Rashi explains that the Torah is highlighting an extra dimension of kindness Hashem did for us. Hashem knew the Jews would be traveling through the desert, so He planned Yetzias Mitzrayim at a time that is comfortable and convenient to travel. (Rabbi Dov Shapiro, Torah Insights)

Flying internationally during Covid isn’t a pleasant experience. When I attempted it last spring, I was swamped with paperwork I needed to prepare. Furthermore, there had been some high-profile situations of Orthodox Jews being singled out on flights for supposedly not complying with Covid regulations. I was really worried about flying, without even adding the possible risk of catching Covid on the plane.

But I wanted to see my mother, so despite my reservations, I packed my bags, added some extra masks for the flight, and boarded the plane with a lot of hesitation.

So far, so good. No one was pointing fingers at me as a pandemic spreader. No one was staring to make sure my mask was properly in place. But still, I was self-conscious and slipped quickly into my assigned seat, trying not to take up any extra space or time.

We all understand the importance of hakaras hatov, but most people leaving Mitzrayim probably weren’t focused on the weather. If you had asked the Jews suffering in Mitzrayim in which season they’d prefer the geulah, they’d probably have responded: “We don’t care when we leave, just get us out of here!”

“Hello, madam, and how are you this fine evening?” I looked up to find a flight attendant, eyes twinkling broadly behind her face mask as she approached my seat. “You okay? Need anything? Just ask me, I’m Donna.”

I’ve flown a lot in my lifetime. My childhood summers were spent on the West Coast, I taught for a year in Denver, I flew to Eretz Yisrael throughout my single years, and now, as an expatriate American, I continue to fly fairly often. I remember the cheerful stewardess of my youth, giving out pilot and stewardess pins to me and my brother. With the passage of years, flights have become more crowded and attendants more curt. I remember one memorable international flight on which the plumbing didn’t work and the flight crew was so swamped with complainers, they were ready to eject them.

But whatever the time period or length of the flight, I don’t recall an attendant as cheerful and as genuinely helpful as Donna. I watched her carefully throughout the flight. I was not the only recipient of her attention. She coaxed a smile out of a cranky toddler, found an extra kosher meal for another traveler, and dispensed pillows, blankets and good cheer to everyone she assisted.

Yet the Torah expects not only our forefathers who experienced the geulah, but all Jews, throughout the millennia, to remember and be grateful for that extra chesed Hashem did by taking our ancestors out when traveling would be pleasant.
We learn from here our responsibility to show appreciation. Being thankful requires noticing all the components of the chesed that’s being done for us. A general “Thanks for everything” does not suffice to adequately express the appreciation we should feel.

Upon leaving the plane, I went over to Donna to say thank you. She nodded and smiled, but I realized it wasn’t enough. I always say thank you when leaving a plane. Donna had gone above and beyond the demands of her job, and it was incumbent upon me to do the same.

That night, despite jet lag, I wrote a letter to the airline, praising Donna for her incredible behavior and thanking them for hiring such staff. I don’t know if she ever received my letter, but I was still glad I’d taken my gratitude to a higher plane.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 775)

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