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The Matzah

When Steve’s father heard the price of this special matzah, he was not pleased


It was during the Seder when nine-year-old Yossi approached his grandfather. The family was about to eat the afikomen, and Yossi could not imagine how everyone could get a k’zayis from the one piece of matzah wrapped in the afikomen bag.

“Zeidy, how can that half a matzah be enough for all 17 people at our Seder?”

Shmuel Fischman (name changed) gently led Yossi to a box next to his seat. “What do you see in there?”

“I see about ten boxes of matzah,” Yossi answered.

“Yossi, I have 20 pounds of shemurah matzah. We have more than enough matzah for everyone.”

Suddenly, Shmuel began to cry.

“Zeidy, why are you crying?!”

Shmuel looked at his grandson and glanced at the large table crowded with his children and grandchildren. He was transported back in time to 1970. Back when Shmuel was “Steve,” and he was 14 years old, and a group of yeshivah boys on a SEED program had inspired Steve to become shomer Shabbos.

When Pesach arrived, Steve told his father that the family would need to purchase special shemurah matzah for the Seder. When Steve’s father heard the price of this special matzah, he was not pleased. Steve’s father informed him that at their Seder — as they had been doing since Steve’s father was a little boy — the family divides one Horowitz Margareten matzah among everyone present.

Patiently yet persistently, Steve explained to his father that they needed shemurah matzah to fulfill the mitzvah of matzah.

“We are not changing our traditions!” Steve’s father declared. “We have always divided one Horowitz Margareten matzah among everyone, and we will not be beginning some new fanatical fad of eating shemurah matzah."

Steve was crestfallen. He could not and would not hurt his father. However, he also very much wanted to fulfill his mitzvah of eating matzah.

Finally, Steve had an epiphany.

He hid a piece of shemurah matzah under the tablecloth by his seat, and while his father was dividing the matzah, Steve stealthily removed his shemurah matzah and quickly and furtively consumed his portion.

That night as Steve lay in bed, tears rolled down his cheeks.

There were tears of happiness of having been able to fulfill the mitzvah. Yet mixed in were tears of sadness at having to hide it. He thought of how grateful he would be to Hashem when he was able to run his own Seder and have as much shemurah matzah as needed.

“Zeidy, why are you crying?” Yossi asked again.

Jolted back to the present by his grandson’s question, Shmuel said, “I am crying tears of gratitude to Hashem for the privilege of having as much shemurah matzah for everyone as they want!”

“But everyone has matzah at the Seder, and they don’t cry,” Yossi persisted.

It was then that Shmuel removed a “special” box of shemurah matzah from the pile.

“Yes, Yossi, you are right. Everyone has shemurah matzah at the Seder. However, not everyone is privileged to have this box.”

“What’s so special about that box, Zeidy?”

Shmuel carefully removed a beautiful hand matzah and carried it carefully to the table.

He then looked at Yossi while he declared for all to hear, “This shemurah matzah is the most precious to me. For this is the one I am presenting to my father who is privileged to be at this Seder with his son, grandson, and great-grandsons.”

Shmuel kissed the precious matzah as he placed it in front of his aged father. As he did so, his father slowly took his son’s hands, which held the shemurah matzah, and kissed his son’s hands, “I love you, Steve,” Shmuel’s father said.

As their eyes met, an ocean of tears flooded the cheeks and hearts of everyone present.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 863)

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