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We Do It for Each Other

I was floored. Each woman could have justifiably left someone else to do it — but they didn’t

My phone beeps. “Mazel tov to Bracha Katz on the birth of a baby boy. If you’d like to make a meal, please contact me.”

My fingers automatically delete the message. I don’t make meals for people.

It was an agreement I’d made with myself. It was just way too much of an effort. My reasons were perfectly legitimate: I don’t make meals for my own family. I’m not an organized person. I don’t know what to make. I don’t have time. I work.

There were exceptions. For a close friend or neighbor, I’d try. But for the general community? I knew there were other tzidkaniyos who would offer immediately, and if I waited a few hours, the meal roster would be filled and I could forget about it.

Between the shul, my kids’ schools, and neighbors, there are, baruch Hashem, many births in the community. Some weeks it’s every second day. I used to read the messages requesting meals, ignore them, and move on. I even stopped feeling any guilt about it. It just wasn’t my thing.

When my first two kids were born, I received meals for a week or two, and it was a huge help. I appreciated it tremendously, but didn’t believe it was within my capabilities to regularly prepare meals for other people. Lurking somewhere was also the need for approval: I could never compete with the incredible meals I received.

And then my third child, my precious Yosef Shalom, was born. And things were hectic. His birth was normal baruch Hashem, and I was healthy, but I had a four-year-old and two-year-old to take care of as well. And they needed proper food. So did my husband. Gone were the days of my husband eating crackers for supper and my kids yogurt.

And for two weeks, day after day, my bell would ring at five p.m. and I’d receive a nutritious meal. For those few weeks, I never had to think about shopping, planning, or cooking. I never had to make sure there was food in the freezer and remember to take it out the night before to defrost.

A huge responsibility was taken care of, while I juggled my kids’ different needs and settled into routine with this precious new baby. I always knew that as crazy as the day was, everyone would be fed that night.

No matter what the meal sent — whether plain pasta and sauce with a salad, store-bought rotisserie chicken, or a lavish three-course meal I’d be proud to serve on Yom Tov — it took the responsibility of serving supper off my head.

I was so humbled. Each person who bought the meal came during their busy afternoon and brought along two or three or six children. Their day was often way busier than mine was on a regular basis — jam-packed with work, their children’s extracurricular activities, and therapies. They had long to-do lists, and yet they still managed to buy food, prepare it, package it, and drive to my house. I was floored. Each woman could have justifiably left someone else to do it — but they didn’t.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 653)

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