Prior to Passover we plunge into an orgy of food shopping, anxiously acquiring whatever we can to guarantee our satiety in spite of the many restrictions on food possession and intake. It is like leaping into the Sea Of Reeds,hoping not to be submerged in excess and to pass through without drowning in surpluses of food or worry.
I just returned with my wife from an excursion to a place of abundance that defies description. As we filled our shopping cart with one kind of food and another, in quantities far surpassing actual need, I was amazed at the optimism that takes hold of so many shoppers. Buying huge quantities suggests not only the economic hard times and the reduced cost of food if purchased in bulk, but it points to an underlying belief that the future is secure and we will still be around to enjoy all that food.
I wondered to myself how an African woman in Darfur would experience a day in a place like Cosco? Would she be able to imagine or wrap her mind around this reality or would it represent a delusion, a fantasy, that like a bubble, bursts upon awakening?
While grateful for the abundance and thankful that I would have the needed Passover provisions, I couldn't shake the thought of how so much could be shared with so many who have so little. If each individual shopping cart were reduced in quantity by one-fifth, a fifth that could be funneled to the hungry-here or elsewhere-how different our world would be! Did each shopper need bulging bags of meats, cheeses and cereals to satisfy their nutritional needs? If each bag were a drop smaller, leaner, would we not witness the lean bodies of starving children growing in size and health
in places of desperate need and want?
Is this not the desired result of sincere gratefulness, to generate compassion and to want to share?
In two and a half weeks we will be sitting down at our Seder tables to enjoy the gifts acquired today-before we begin, out of a sense of grateful thankfulness we recite: "Kol dichfin,"-Let all who are hungry join us at the table of plenty -as long as one belly hungrily growls somewhere in the world, our story of human liberation is incomplete and can not be concluded with any certainty of a happy ending.
Be grateful so that you can act compassionately.