by Steve Lapin
Once upon a time in a small city, lived a kind Lubavitch rabbi named Rabbi Shmotkin.
Every year it was his practice, at Passover time, to mail out boxes of special hand baked Shmurah Matzah to other Jews in his city to help them celebrate Passover.
This is the story of four boxes of this special Shmurah Matzah. The first box arrived at the home of a middle-aged accountant, who lived alone and whose sole companion was a tank of tropical fish. Since tropical fish are not big talkers, our accountant often sat at night listening to the radio and wondering. He remembers going to the door that afternoon to pick up his mail.
When he opened the door, a cardboard box fell at his feet. At first he thought it was a medium size pizza that had been wrongly delivered to his home ,but when he opened it up and saw the letter inside, a smile came to his face, a rare one for that time in his life, and he said special thanks to Rabbi Shmotkin, just for remembering him.
The next afternoon, the friendless accountant again went to the door to collect his daily portion of "occupant mail." Again, as he opened the door, another cardboard box fell at his feet. He examined it closely and found that it was Shmurah Matzah from Lubavitch.
"Strange," he thought, "one box was nice, but two seems a bit extravagant on the Rabbi's part. Maybe Lubavitch has more money than I think," he said to himself, "perhaps I have been giving in excess," he noted in his accountant-like brain.
The afternoon after that, our sad accountant again went to the door for his mail. This time he noticed a certain trepidation in his step and a slight hesitation as he opened the door. You guessed it; in fell another box of Shmurah Matzah.
Now, this accountant knew a thing or two about computers, so his initial thought was that maybe he was in some sort of Chassidic computer loop, like when the government forgets it already sent your tax refund and sends you the same tax refund every week for the rest of your life.
"Why," he pondered, "couldn't I get into a government refund loop, instead of a Shmurah Matzah loop? Just my mazel," he complained to himself, "everyone else gets money when there is a mistake, and I get Matzah."
The afternoon after that, he went as usual to get his mail, opened the door and...you guessed it; in fell a fourth box of Shmurah Matzah. "Shmotkin is trying to tell me something," our accountant thought to himself, "but what could it be?
"Four boxes of Shmurah Matzah has to be a sign, like the Four Questions, only more expensive," our friend pondered. "What shall I do? What shall I do?"
Finally, after some soul searching, he decided to do exactly as Rabbi Shmotkin had done--to give the Shmurah Matzah away.
Since he didn't know many people, he gave away two of the boxes to people at work, one to a Jewish woman who had married a Christian and one to a Jewish man who was married to a non-Jewish woman. The third box he took with him to his Seder, and the fourth he kept for himself.
The accountant's Seder dinner was depressing. His father's wife was quite ill and could barely sit at the table. Her days were not to be long, it seemed to all assembled, who nodded among themselves with little knowing looks. When it came time to display and taste the first Matzah, the accountant's stepmother brightened up. "Who brought the Shmurah Matzah to the Seder?" she asked, rather strongly, everyone thought.
"Why, I did," responded the accountant.
"I really want to thank you," she said. "Every day to me is now very precious, and with this unexpected gift, you have done the impossible, for you have made this day even more precious to me than usual."
Everyone was beaming at the table and somehow a sad and distant night had turned into a very close knit one. "Rabbi Shmotkin is doing something right when he gives this Matzah away," the accountant thought to himself.
Three days later when he returned to the office, the man he had given the Matzah to approached the accountant before he could drink his morning coffee.
"You know," he said, "that special Matzah you gave me for Passover, had a rather profound effect on my wife, who not only isn't Jewish, but she's not even very religious. We don't have a Seder at my house any more, but I passed out your Matzah and she was fascinated. She could not believe how ancient it looked, and she said it gave her a feeling of connection with a past she barely knew existed.
"You know what's really surprising? She made me take down our dusty unused bible and that very night, (it happened to have been Passover eve) she had me read the entire Exodus story out loud to her and the kids. You know, women never cease to amaze me."
"Well that's astounding," the accountant thought. "It's hardly a conversion, but this program of Rabbi Shmotkin's certainly has a most unexpected effect."
He walked slowly toward his office, when the Jewish woman who had married the gentile virtually stopped him in the hall.
"I really want to thank you for that Matzah you gave us for Passover. You know every year my daughter, husband and I go to my parents house for a semi-Seder. It's really just a meal, because my husband isn't very interested. When our daughter opened the Matzah box at the house and gave everyone a piece and then she read the rabbi's letter out loud, you know, my husband said to me, 'She really likes this service stuff,' and he agreed to let me send her to Hebrew Sunday school.
Before that night he was against the whole idea, I don't know what changed his mind, but I think the rabbi's Matzah had something to do with it."
"Needless to say, I was in a state of shock from these revelations, and had no small feeling of guilt about hanging on to my own box. Look at the good I could have done for someone else, if I had given all of Rabbi Shmotkin's Shmurah Matzah away. But then I remembered how I felt when I got my first box and was glad I had set it aside."