May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s five weeks until the chagim. What are your thoughts? Which meals are we home for? Are my in-laws coming to me? What’s the menu? Do all the kids have shoes? How many seats do I need for shul? If these are your questions, then Chasdei Hashem, you are blessed. Truly blessed. It means you have family. It means you have a home and a place to be.

Now let’s turn to someone else. Let’s say, a divorcee. A widow. A single person. A senior citizen. A convert. Their questions are different. Utterly and significantly different. Where am I going? What am I doing? Will I get invited? How will I get through this? Again. Alone.

We don’t have to go further than this week’s and last week’s parshiot to hear the lesson loud and clear. “God upholds the cause of the orphan and widow, and loves the convert to give him bread and garment” (Eikev 10:18). “You shall rejoice on your festival (Succot), you, your son, your daughter,…the convert, the orphan and the widow who are in your cities”(Re’eh 16:14).

Rambam expounds from here that “when a person sacrifices festive and celebratory peace-offerings, he should not eat while secluded, together with his children and his wife and think he is performing a perfect mitzvah. Instead, he is obligated to bring joy to the poor and unfortunate (Mishneh Torah 2:14). Conversely, “one who oppresses the widow, orphan and stranger” is one who has “no fear of God” and is compared to those “who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, (and) who cheat laborers of their hire” (Malachi 3:5).

So, dear reader, let’s go over all the excuses we can make not to have someone over. Have you seen the prices at the local kosher store?? I can’t afford company. Answer: It’s often just one more person. I’m a terrible cook!! My house is a mess. My kids fight at the table all the time! Answer: They didn’t sign up for a food tasting and they’re not social services. They’re coming to be seen, to be heard, to be welcomed. I’m an introvert! My whole family is! Conversation won’t flow! Answer: It’s not a Joe Rogan episode. They’re coming to be seen, to be heard, to be welcomed.

If you are still not convinced, let’s get creative and think what else we can do if the Shabbos/Yom Tov meal is just not going to happen.

Are you going to a shiur? Shul event? Park? Walk? Mall? Anything? Invite them to join!

Are you baking? Drop a little something off on Friday and say, “I had extra. Was thinking of you and just hope you have a nice Shabbos.”

Shoot them a text every other week (you can set a reminder on your phone) and say, “Hey! Hope your week is going well.”

If your last excuse is you don’t know anyone, then look up. Look around. These wonderful people are everywhere around you and can enhance your life as much as you have the ability, responsibility and honor to enhance theirs.

(This message was inspired by Tzipora Grodko and her social media message of “Celebrating Solo”)

Ilana Adams

Bergenfield

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