Apr 9, 2017

going away for Pesach vs staying home

YWN posted a very harsh letter that had been sent in to the editorial board. It basically expressed glee at the cancellation of flights to Florida from New York and the cancellation of hotel Pesach programs that left many people in the lurch at the last minute.

The anonymous author of the letter is happy about their suffering because s/he thinks these people need to be taught a lesson, as does the community. The author references people that s/he knows go into serious debt in order to participate in such programs, as well as traveling for Sukkos or summer camps, and the like.

The author writes:
I was thrilled to learn that many flights from NY to Florida were cancelled on Erev Shabbos. I was also thrilled to learn that at least two Pesach hotels pulled the plug just a few days before Yom Tov.
Why am I thrilled?
Because I just collected money (more than $10K) for a family whose Flatbush home was slipping into foreclosure and friends got together to save them. So this was a thank you (spit in the face) to those that helped them out. They used credit cards to go to an upscale hotel for Pesach.
Now some may say “thrilled” is the wrong word, and of course it is not my wish that these people lose large sums of money, but yes I am thrilled that maybe just maybe the world will finally be exposed to this sickening phenomenon that is destroying so many families in our midst.
How reckless have we become? When did lose our minds in this insane fashion.
I know of a family that BORROWED $80,000 (yes, you read correctly – 80 THOUSAND DOLLARS) to fly their family to a Pesach hotel across the United States.
These are the same people that borrow money to purchase their summer homes in the Catskills (because you MUST); who take their kids to Miami on mid-winter vacations (because you MUST); who go on a vacation or two a year (because you MUST); who spend Sukkos in Israel every two years (because you MUST)….
So yes, I am thrilled that some people might Nebach have to spend Pesach in their homes. I am thrilled that instead of sharing their most precious family time with strangers, waiters and swimming pools they may enjoy a beautiful and uplifting seder around their very own, plain, boring dining room tables.
While I understand the point being made, and don't disagree with it and of course think that people should not go into heavy debt for such things - essentially just to keep up with the Joneses, or Cohens, I think his point is overly harsh the way s/he makes it. How people spend their hard earned money is really only their business. While some people go into debt for these things, some people do not. Some people work hard all year and save their money to go away on a vacation or for the holidays. And the people who did not go into debt for their vacation are also losing their money. Some people cannot make Pesach at home, due to circumstances out of their control and sometimes going away is their only solution. In addition, it seems cruel to wish that these people who took on debt to celebrate the holiday, rightfully or wrongfully, with or without a plan to pay it back, will lose all their money just to teach them a lesson and now have to pay back debt that they did not even get to enjoy.

I also find it noteworthy that the author seems to make a point that people who make the seder at home have a "beautiful and uplifting seder" while those who go away do not. I would posit that many people have a beautiful and uplifting seder at home, but many do not. Some people are alone and just go though the motions or others have a seder full of fighting among the kids and even adults who do not get along with each other. And people who go away can also have a beautiful and uplifting seder, with guidance from inspirational rabbonim who lead the seder in hotels, with loving family members they don't get to see to often, with everyone around the table including parents who are not too tired from all the preparations to also enjoy the seder. One need not over-stress his imagination to consider the multitude of scenarios in which one can imagine people who go away having a wonderful seder and people staying at home having a less than wonderful seder. Juts because these people are forced to stay home now does not mean they will automatically have a beautiful and uplifting seder, though I hope they will.

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  1. Pesach at home: Chag Kasher V'Sameach
    Pesach at inlaws: Chag Kasher
    Pesach at hotel: Chag Sameach
    Pesach at hotel with inlaws: Chag

  2. When a friend told me about "this letter" I thought it sounded inconsiderate, as you write. But reading it (thank you for posting it) I realize that quite possibly there are many people who cannot afford a number of these lifestyle choices which we personally do not take part in. And if there is one annoying "to the editor" letter out there which calls some attention to it, I think it's just fine as a "daat yachid" - I wouldn't like to see it as an article or an op-ed, but as one voice out there it actually seems like a good thing it was written.


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