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Our Unexpected Passover Guest

Nobody expected my grandfather to show up at my apartment for Passover—two months after he died

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(Margarita Korol; homepage illustration Shutterstock)
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Grandpa’s Secret Shoah

My grandfather never talked about his time in a concentration camp. Five years after his death, I finally heard his story.

As Passover approached just a couple months later, I wondered what the holiday would be like. Grandpa’s Seders had always opened a door to a magical reality, completely distinct from the quotidian world I inhabited the rest of the year.

We had always read the service all the way through from my grandparents’ art deco Union Haggadahs. With a booming voice, Grandpa had told the story of the slaves in Egypt as though it were his own personal drama. My young mind never once questioned the miracles of the Exodus—their reality had been handed down to me by my grandfather, who’d received it from his, and so on for more than 3,000 years.

Year after year, Grandpa had hidden the afikomen, undetected. His sleight of hand was worthy of Doug Henning. By the time the gefilte fish arrived on its china plate, Grandpa would have me on the edge of my seat, wondering where he’d hidden the matzoh.

In our youth, my sister and I balked when we were sent to the front door late in the Seder to invite in Elijah the Prophet. To us, Elijah the Prophet could be no one but the Boogey Man. After all, hadn’t Grandpa told us that the Boogey Man lingered by the front door at night?

As a child, I was greatly relieved when Elijah would fail to appear. Now, as an adult, I grieve.

***

Twelve years have passed since Grandpa died. My husband and I still live in the same tiny apartment, now (thank G-d) crammed with kids. When I begin to prepare for Passover, I inevitably think of my grandfather, who never met my children and would have taken such pleasure in them. Nevertheless, my husband and I try to make our Seders as magical as possible for them. I don’t think we have quite the same flair as Grandpa, but the kids look forward to Passover with as much anticipation as I did.

I don’t expect Grandpa to visit us again this year. When he appeared to us that first Passover, he knew we needed him. Today, we still miss him. We still wish he were here. But we no longer need reassurances of his unconditional love. His one final visit gave that to us.

***

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Cymantha Governs says:

This is beautiful…Thank you for passing along your grandfather’s gift to us.

jacqueline cole says:

goodness how beautiful, thank you for sharing this

This is the best way to start the week. Thank you!

Thank you for sharing this. It was beautiful.

speechbx says:

beautiful!

VinoJon says:

Thank you for this beautifully penned piece. My grandfather died just a few weeks ago and your description of yours and the way he conducted his Seder really resonated with my own experiences growing up. RIP Zayda!

Rebecca Klempner says:

I hope you find comfort in the upcoming holiday. Thanks to you and all the other kind compliments.

so beautiful :)

guamjeff says:

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither
have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Eccl. 9:5

The dead are asleep. Lucifer and his minions were tossed from heaven due to rebellion. It is they, passing themselves off as a loved one, that will make such contact.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of
it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen. 2:27

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: Gen. 3:4 (the first recorded Satanic lie to our first parents)

I know that it is a much loved doctrine to believe that our loved ones are still alive and well in heaven but it just doesn’t fit with God’s word. God even made it a sin to attempt to talk with the dead or with those who try to because he knew of the deception. To know that our loved ones sleep and rest, in peace, to me is also a very comforting knowledge. They will be raised at the return of the Messiah.

Even Christians have scripture that points this way: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 6:23

These scriptures all fly in the face of “eternal life” for the wicked except that the eternal life will be horrendous torture. God says over and over that the wicked will die, be burned up root and branch, be ashes under the feet of the righteous (Malachi) and that sin will not rise a second time. Imagine a universe with a group of wicked cursing and howling for eternity? Just not gonna happen.

Another scripture says: It is appointed for man once to die and then the judgement. Even Jesus, a Jew, told his disciples that a man that had died was “asleep”. Several days later the story is told that Jesus went and woke him up.
Imagine being in heaven, in the arms of God and all of a sudden being ripped away to live in this world again for a short time and having to die again.

My beloved grandfather, who was given the gift of an ecstatic death (from his face, it was apparent that he was beholding the Face of the Almighty as he died), appeared in a similar dream to my mother (his eldest child) and his wife as well. It is wonderful to hear that others have been given this same privilege to have their loved ones touch them reassuringly one more time.

Elizabeth Podolsky says:

How comforting it must be to know that you grandfather is still very present in your life. I’m sure he’s proud of you keeping the Passover traditions and passing them down to your children.

Jay Bird says:

Thank you for this, I needed it.

Wonderful Memories of your Grandpa and made me think back to MY Grandpa too who was a major part of my childhood. I held Papa Joe’s hand as he transitioned and the peace on his face told me that he was with Hashem and in good hands with The Angels. He comes to me every year when I least expect it; always at a time when I would have loved to reach out for him.

Our loved ones are ALWAYS with us and as long as we whisper their name and share (like this wonderful story) they are kept alive.

Zeissen Pesach to you all!

Bruce Bevitz says:

It brought tears to my eyes, and hope to my heart.

Sonia says:

Thank you and thank you again.

FRANCINE GOLDMAN says:

WHAT A LOVELY STORY! MY GRANDPA CAME TO MY GRANDMA AFTER HIS DEATH AND KISSED HER CHEEK AND SMILED AS HE VANISHED AWAY. HE JUST WANTED TO COMFORT HER AND SHE SAID SHE ACTUALLY FELT HIS TOUCH AND THE KISS ON HER CHEEK. A DREAM? NO, SHE HAD JUST CRAWLED INTO HER BED WHEN SHE SAW HIM BY THE BED. HE SIMPLY BENT DOWN AND GAVE HER HIS GOOD BYE KISS AS SHE NEVER GOT TO SAY GOOD BYE TO HIM BECAUSE OF HIS PASSING OF A SUDDEN HEART ATTACK. WHEN MY SISTER PASSED AWAY, SHE CAME TO MY BEDSIDE AND CALLED MY NAME AND I GOT UP IMMEDIATELY AND CALLED HER. I DID NOT GET AN ANSWER, BUT I LET IT RING. MY NEPHEW ANSWERED THE PHONE BECAUSE IT WOKE HIM UP. I ASKED HIM WHERE HIS MOTHER WAS AND HE SAID SOMEWHERE IN THE HOUSE HE GUESSED. THEN WHEN HE GLANCED TOWARD THE BATHROOM, HE SAW HER LAYING IN THE FLOOR AND ASSUMED SHE WAS HAVING A INSULIN REACTION WITH HER DIABETES. HE REALIZED HE WAS NOT GETTING A RESPONSE SO HE CALLED 911 FOR AN AMBULANCE WHILE HE GAVE HER CPR AND TRIED TO GET A RESPONSE. SHE HAD ALREADY PASSED WHEN MY NEPHEW FOUND HER. MY BROTHER IN LAW AND NEPHEW WONDERED WHY I HAD CALLED AND I EXPLAINED THAT I WAS DIALING THE PHONE BEFORE I EVEN REALIZED THAT I WAS EVEN OUT OF BED AT THE PHONE. THEY FOUND THAT SHE HAD A BLOOD CLOT GO THROUGH HER LUNG AND LODGE IN HER HEART VENTRICLE. SHE DIED INSTANTLY. THE TIME OF DEATH ON THE CERTIFICATE WAS THE EXACT TIME SHE CAME TO MY BEDSIDE AND AWAKEN ME. SHE DID NOT WANT TO BE LAYING IN THE BATHROOM FLOOR SO UNDIGNIFIED, BUT, I THINK SHE WANTED TO SAY BYE TO ME. SHE WAS OVER THIRTEEN YEARS OLDER THAN ME AND WHEN OUR DADDY DIED AT AGE 34 OF A SUDDEN HEART ATTACK LEAVING OUR MOTHER TO RAISE THREE LITTLE GIRLS ALONE AND MY SISTER THAT IS ABOUT, HAD JUVENILE DIABETES. SINCE SHE WAS OLDEST SHE HELPED MY MOM TAKE CARE OF ME AND MY SISTER WHO WAS SEVEN AND I WAS JUST SEVEN MONTHS OLD. SHE WAS LIKE A SECOND MOM TO ME. I FELT HER THERE BY MY BED AND ACTUALLY HEARD HER VOICE. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THESE THINGS BUT THEY HAPPENED.

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Our Unexpected Passover Guest

Nobody expected my grandfather to show up at my apartment for Passover—two months after he died

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