all who don’t have electricity, let them come and be warm

ISHI just put out a message on our listserve:

We understand that there are several neighborhoods in town without electricity. If you know of  families who might be without heat or light over Shabbat, please let me know. If you might be able to host such families for a meal or for lodging over Shabbat, please let me know.

So we got lots of calls so far. The first one:

“Anyone is welcome. We have power. We don’t have a lot of food, because we couldn’t get to the store, but we’ll figure out something, I’m sure.”

The next:

“We’ll certainly house people. We’re eating dinner out tonight, but we can stay home, if they need us to, or they can bring their food over. We’ll figure it out.”

And the next:

“Anyone is certainly welcome. We’re snowed in because I can’t get the walk cleared and that might not be finished before Shabbat, but they can come over somehow.”

What is this? Full disclosure? Are we all lawyers now?

What are the parameters of being a good host on an emergency basis?

I’ve written about what a good guest should be thinking of. But what about a good host?

And it brings to mind what we say at the Pesach Seder table:

Ha Lachma Anya
This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in
the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let him come
and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and
conduct the Seder of Passover. This year [we are]
here; next year in the land of Israel. This year [we
are] slaves; next year [we will be] free people.

הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא בְּאַרְעָא
דְִמצְרָיִם. כָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְר ְ ִיך
יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח. הָשַׁ תָּא הָכָא, לְשָׁ נָה הַבָּאָה
בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂ רָאֵל. הָשַׁ תָּא עַבְדֵי, לְשָׁ נָה הַבָּאָה
בְּנֵי חוֹרִין.


Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom asks this about the structure of the Haggadah:

  • Why is the paragraph in Aramaic?

  • How could we reasonably be inviting someone into our house for a Seder – at that late hour? This question becomes more impactful once we remind ourselves that no one may partake of a Pesach offering without having joined the Havurah of that particular offering in advance; what, then, is the import of yeytei v’yiph’sach – “let him come and partake of the Pesach”?

  • Why is the prayer at the end presented in a doubled form – here/Eretz Yisra’el, slaves/noblemen? Why not combine the two?

  • What is the purpose of this paragraph?

..and then answers it this way:

We ironically invite people in to share our “Pesach” – at once reminding ourselves that the Pesach is missing from the table as the Temple lies in ruins and we are far away from that glory while pointing to the sad situation that we could reasonably have fellow Jews who are hungry and need a place to have their Seder. (This is not close to the dreams we had for our future as we left Egypt). This invitation underscores the pain we feel that our Seder is so incomplete and must be a “fantasy” and removed from our reality if it is to be a celebration at all.

I’m just quoting a little–you should take some time and see the whole thing, if you can. I hope to do so after Shabbat, too.

Much more to learn.

And just for full disclosure, two more people called and said they’d be happy to take people. No limits.

Shabbat Shalom.


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