I completed my last business travel of my aveilus with a trip to Columbus. My meeting was scheduled for Tuesday morning at 8 am but as happened so often this year flight schedules and minyan times required that I travel on Monday afternoon so that I could make mincha/maariv on Monday evening. My return Tuesday evening/night left me few options so I planned on missing mincha and making the 10 pm maariv in Silver Spring. I asked a friend to “cover me” with saying kaddish at mincha.
As my house was already “Peasachdic” (prepared for Passover) when I left, I planned on buying dinner at the Kreoger’s in Columbus after maariv. The Kroeger’s on Broad Street houses a large kosher grocery store. Though I have been there many times I was quite “shocked” when I wheeled my shopping cart into the store and found an extremely large and incredibly well stocked kosher for Passover store. It was as large and well stocked as could be found in any major Jewish community such as New York, Baltimore, Silver Spring etc.
Tuesday morning I overslept slightly, rushed to get ready and was in my rental car by 6:10 am to begin the twenty minute drive to Ahavas Shalom for shachris. I got into the Avis Infinity SUV, and pushed the start engine button. Rather than hear the hum of the engine an error message appeared on the screen “key not recognized”. I tried again and got the same error message. “Are you kidding?”, I thought to myself as the minutes ticked away, “This is the key. It worked last night!” I tried again. No engine start. “G-d this can’t really be happening to me. Am I really going to miss kaddish.” I tried again. This time, miraculously, the car started. I drove away as quickly as I could and arrived just in time.
During davening a young man came over to me to ask if the car with Illinois plates was mine as its interior lights were on. I rushed out of shul, in talis and tefilin and found the lights on. I shut them off and returned to shul worrying all through the service that the car would not start and I would not make my meeting. After shul I bid farewell to my Columbus friends and apprehensively opened the door to the Infinity. I pushed the start button. Nothing happened – except that dreaded error message appeared again. “Great! I made kaddish but will miss my meeting!” I tried a few more times. Suddenly, on another push of the button the car started. I sighed a sigh of relief and quickly drove off to my client meeting thinking to myself how I had experienced, real time, the Talmudic principle – sheluchai mitzvah ainon nezakin lo behalichison velo bechazirasan -– One attempting to perform a mitzvah is not frustrated – neither on the way to or on the way back from performing the mitzvah.
My client meeting was scheduled for the entire day and my return flight was at 7:25 pm. As things turned out the meeting ended mid-day and I was pleasantly surprised to make a 2:30 pm return flight to Baltimore. I would now have no problem saying kaddish at mincha. What a pleasant ending to my final business trip while saying kaddish. One more trip left. Next week will be my final travel while saying kaddish when we take a couple days off in New York.
As I prepare to lead the seder tonight I am focused on how the stark reality of current world events and, in particular, the so called “nuclear deal” with Iran boldly proves the haggadic statement – shebchol dor vador omdim aleinu lechaloseinu veHakadosh Baruch Hu matzilenu meyadim –In every generation our enemies plot to annihilate us and the Almighty saves us from destruction. One does not need to be much of a believer to see the absolute truth in the first part of this statement – one need only read the daily pronouncements of the Iranians and their terrorist comrades. The message of Passover, which we are obligated to transmit to our children, is contained in the second half of the statement; that we can be confident that the Almighty, the Creator of the universe, will always save us and sustain us.
My journey this year of saying kaddish has time and time again reminded me, to paraphrase the prophet – Even when I sit in darkness the Almighty is there to my light our path.
It will be this message that I will convey tonight to my children and grandchildren as I cover my matzahs, fopr the first time with the embroided mazah cover which my father and mother used during their lifetimes.