Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 2, 2007 / 14 Nissan 5767

The ‘hero’ sandwich

By S. Horowitz


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

A Seder specialty and symbol of faith


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Observe the glow on a child's face as he chants the customary interpretation of koreich. This unique sandwich of matzah and marror(bitter herbs) seems to evoke in the youngster a particular spark of pleasure.


But as the child slowly matures, and has already experienced this Seder sandwich several times in his life, does the initial thrill begin to fade? Probably. After all, that's human nature. Until what age would a child be ecstatic about a matzah and marror sandwich? That is, unless the growing child has probed and discovered that very magnitude of thrill — on a more profound level. For, in reality, the combination of matzah and marror that we eat on Passover is a high point of the Seder — for the adults as well as for the giggling kids, munching with delight.


Firstly, and understandably, fulfilling the custom of the great sage Hillel can be cause enough to rejoice. We are thereby fulfilling our obligation of "al matzos umerrorim" the way Hillel understood it — which is a rewarding experience in itself.


But there are more dimensions to this interesting sandwich, which is why I've come to view it as a "hero" sandwich, no less! Not the kind that can be purchased at the local sub shoppe, its heroic measure determined by its number of layers. Rather, I've come to perceive it so, for the layer upon layer of depth and meaning that I've discovered behind it.


And that discovery I attribute to a story, true to the last detail, which contains power enough to revive that very childhood thrill — for a new set of reasons.

THE CRIPPLED SOLDIER
During the tension-wrought years of World War One, many of Rabbi Shmuel Rosenberg's disciples had been drafted for service in the army. The great sage, known as the Be'er Shmuel, was the dean of the then-renowned yeshiva in Unsdorf, Slovakia, and the beloved leader and mentor of many disciples. Bound as he was to his students with a fatherly love and devotion, he was deeply anguished by the plight of those who were forced onto the battlefields. These students occupied his thoughts incessantly, and their names were foremost in his prayers.


Thus, in spite of the physical barrier that war had created between them, he continued to inspire them and maintain communication with them from afar. This powerful bond was a source of hope and strength for the students on the battlefront, and at times even seemed mysteriously connected with miraculous incidents that they experienced along treacherous routes. Sometimes, however, during the rough exile that it was, tragedy struck hard in spite of the many tears that were shed on their behalf.

AMPUTATION AS A CURE
One student had been seriously wounded on the battlefield. Tragically, doctors prescribed the immediate amputation of his leg as the single remedy that would save his life.


The wounded soldier was lying in his hospital bed, his thoughts consumed by profound misery and despair. His life seemed shattered beyond repair. He could not fathom how he would ever resume heading his household again and supporting his family.


The Be'er Shmuel was informed of the tragedy and the deep despair that engulfed his beloved disciple. He immediately sent a letter of sympathy and encouragement.


The heading of the letter contained a Torah verse, the words, Joseph consoled his brothers for having sold him, explaining that it was the will of the Divine that he end up in Egypt where he would later provide his family with the sustenance they would need. The Be'er Shmuel chose, particularly, these words of encouragement for the opening of his letter.


The rest of the letter contained additional words of consolation for the troubled soldier — reassurance that everything that happens is for a person's good, and other powerful messages of faith and hope for the future.


It happened that in the unit of the hospital where this man lay, there was a gentile soldier with a condition similar to that of the Jewish soldier's. This gentile was considered a true war hero who had lost his leg while faithfully serving his country.


One day, a medal from the Hungarian government, in honor of his outstanding heroism, arrived at the hospital. Erroneously, however, the medal landed in the Jewish soldier's hands. He was awarded an honorary tribute from the government for having been the heroic warrior who lost his leg in battle! The Jewish soldier accepted the award, although he could not fathom how he ever came to be a hero of such significance.


When he was sufficiently recuperated, he returned home to his family — free at last, but crippled for life. The war ended with the seeds of the next world war sprouting soon thereafter. Thus, it was a scant two decades later when he and his family began witnessing the all-too-familiar horrors of war all over again. Deportations had begun, and people sensed the horrible fate that awaited them.


It was then that the medal of heroism came in handy. Hungarian officials, in acknowledgement of his faithful service to his country, graciously offered the crippled Jew a Hungarian home where he could shelter himself and all of the members of his household!


And so it happened that this "unfortunate" crippled soldier, along with his family and extended family of forty-eight members, escaped the ferocious jaws of the Nazi war machine. This privileged group of forty-nine remained under this protective roof till the end of the war, their Hungarian benefactors providing them with food, water, and basic necessities all throughout.


Only then did he comprehend the message that his spiritual mentor, the Be'er Shmuel, had imparted. Only then did he grasp that the terrible tragedy that had befallen him during the First World War was actually a Divine preparation and the source of his and his entire family's future survival and sustenance through the bloodiest era in history, the Second World War.

APPRECIATION IN ITS HIGHEST FORM
Often, huge spans of time elapse before one can recognize the blessing in past difficulties. The Sefas Emes explains that even the Jews who left Egypt as free men finally breathing the refreshing air of freedom were still "crippled" from the emotional pain and strain of all the suffering that they had endured. And thus, the joy of their redemption, with all of its glory, was still bittersweet for them.


It was only upon the exhilarating experience of witnessing the miraculous Splitting of the Sea that they became elevated to a higher, more heroic level of appreciation, not just of their redemption, but of their former exile, as well. They were then able to say "Zeh Keili… This is the very One Who decreed our former suffering." It was at the shores of the Sea of Reeds that they were finally able to see and acknowledge and even say wholeheartedly that all that they had endured in Egypt was worthwhile for the salvation and miracles that they were now witnessing.


This soldier, too, struggled to contend with his bittersweet homecoming after his first wartime experience. Later, though, upon witnessing the incredible survival of his entire family, he was able to achieve a better understanding of the bitter suffering of his past. At last, he was able to thank the Divine wholeheartedly and equally for the hardships as well as for the miracles.

SAVORING THE SANDWICH
Upon contemplating the chain of events in the story of the crippled soldier, we can enhance our appreciation of the significant "layers" in the matzah and marror sandwich.


The Sefas Emes explains that matzah symbolizes freedom, and bitter herbs, exile. By eating them together, we portray our firm belief that the Divine is present not only at our redemption, but during the most bitter periods of exile, as well. His Presence may not be as apparent during times of bitterness, but He is present, nonetheless. And just as the Divine was present during the slavery and torment of the Jews in Egypt, He was and continues to be so during any exile or any individual form of bitterness that a person must endure.


For the crippled soldier, in retrospect, the sacrifice of one limb, horrible as it was, turned out to be a blessing and powerful testimony to the Divine's Presence — and, yes, worthwhile for the astronomical reward he reaped later.


Perhaps, like the little ones, we can savor, on a different level, the high point of biting into a matzah/bitter herbs sandwich.


The combination implies that the Divine is present at all times; everything that happens is carefully and Divinely planned. Everything, be it categorized as matzah/freedom or bitter herbs/suffering, is in our best interest only.


If we can absorb this concept, we have achieved an understanding of heroic nature. Appreciating the bitter herbs as well as the matzah is a heroic understanding. It is reminiscent of the elevated level of recognition that the Jews achieved at parting of the Reed Sea. Hence, as the youngsters delight in their Passover sandwich, the adults can delight in its meaning.


Crunch.


Enjoy it as you did when you were small. You are fulfilling the obligation the way Hillel did.


And relish those layers…. It's a hero's sandwich.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

S. Horowitz is a Brooklyn-based writer. Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Augath Israel of America. From the April, 2007 Jewish Observer