The Knock at the Door
Three years ago, while my husband and I were conducting our seder for just the two of us, after reading the haggadah text directing us to open a door for the possibility of greeting the prophet Elijah, I stood up to open the screen door leading to our outdoor porch.
A few seconds later, we heard a hard knock at our front door.
We wondered who would be coming to our apartment at that same moment in time. We knew our family would be having a larger seder on the second night at our daughter’s home not too far from us, so we doubted it was her, or any member of our family. We paused our haggadah reading to see who had knocked.
A tall young man appeared. He had come by to pick up a special vacuum machine that we had been using for a few days to suction up rain water that had seeped into our apartment, making the carpet in one area very wet. When he came in, I told him how coincidental it was that his knock on the door occurred just as we opened another door to be ready to welcome the Messiah, one of our Passover traditions. I explained how another Jewish custom was to offer a meal or food to a stranger who comes to your home at that time. So we invited him to join us for dinner, complete with chicken soup and matzah balls. He said no, but thanked us for the offer.
I then said, can we at least give you some matzah. That he did take, and told us his mother had worked for a Jewish family, so he had some familiarity about eating it during Passover.
I was told by our leasing office, that when Miguel (his name) came back to the office with the vacuum machine and told the staff what happened, he told them, he could have been the messiah! For several weeks, “Messiah” became his nickname. He still works here at our complex, and often when meeting up, we recall that unusual timing and what happened.
Was it just a coincidence or bashert (meant to be) that a stranger would knock at our entry at the exact moment we were reading the haggadah text to open our door to welcome the prophet? Being a rare event, I wondered if there was a way to calculate the odds of something happening like that. A lot of things happen during life with some events being more unusual than others.
Or is it a metaphor that one never knows if someone will come knocking on your door during your seder, that there might be an additional Jewish connection to your holiday experience.
Flora Rosefsky is an AJT contributor.