Sarah’s corner: When Everything Goes Wrong


When Everything Goes Wrong

Sarah Pachter

Oooh, that looks good!

Click…add to cart.

Oh my goodness, that’s gluten free? I’ll take two!


A few clicks later I completed my Pesach order, and called Mrs. Goldman[1], a 98-year old Holocaust survivor. Years ago, she had called me before Pesach, crying that she didn’t know how she would prepare for the holiday. Ever since then, I have handled her Yom Tov food purchases. Especially this year, with Coronavirus adding stress to everyone’s life, I wanted every detail of her order to be taken care of. We thought of every possible need, from her Seder plate to dessert, so she would not have to exert any energy on her already frail mind and body.

After double checking the details of the order, and triple checking her address, I clicked the complete button.

Ten minutes later, Mrs. Goldman called me back.

“Sarah! Can you order me some schnitzel, too?”

“Of course! What’s Pesach without schnitzel?” I replied. Before her request could slip my mind, I quickly ran to the computer and placed the second order.

A few weeks went by, and Erev Pesach had arrived. It was Wednesday at 3 p.m., and my order had not been delivered yet. Mrs. Goldman, however, had received hers, and called to thank me.

At 4 p.m., still no food had arrived from the caterer. Instead, I got another call from Mrs. Goldman. “Sarah, I got a second box of food, thank you so much! It has everything I need.” As she started to describe the contents, I realized it was not the order I had coordinated! It wasn’t even from the catering company I ordered from. 

Where did this mysterious box come from? I wondered.

It seemed someone else had a similar idea, and had anonymously ordered her Pesach food, as well.

“Mrs. Goldman, what did you receive in the order that I sent?”


Oh no! She only received schnitzel? She was too nice to mention that everything else was missing. Where was the first order?

5 p.m. came, and Pesach was rapidly approaching.

I was about to call the catering company–again–when the phone rang. The caterer said, “Sarah, I have your order right here, and I never normally notice these things, but I see there are two huge orders coming to your house. Are they both for you?”

Mrs. Goldman’s order was being put on the truck to come to my house, but he caught the mistake, and was able to redirect the driver to her home.

At 5:30 p.m., my food thankfully arrived, and I began to unpack. Everything seemed correct.

My phone rang again at 5:35. The caterer was calling.

“Sarah, we have a problem. The elderly woman refuses to open the door to the driver. She simply won’t accept the order we have for her. She says she has too much food, and she doesn’t need it.”

I knew why Mrs. Goldman wasn’t opening up. In Auschwitz, she was forced to divide her meager portion of bread, saving half for the evening in order to survive. Since then, she despised wasting food.

“What would you like me to do?” the caterer asked me.

We didn’t need it ourselves for the holiday, and I had no space left in the freezer. I asked if he knew of someone in need.

He answered quickly, “Yes, I think I do. Thanks. Good Yom Tov.” 

Pesach came and went, and when the first days were over, the caterer reached out to me with a story told in texts:

You won’t believe the miracle that happened! I didn’t have time to tell you before Chag, but here is the unbelievable story:

Minutes before I was closing the store, a poorly-dressed Chassid walked in. He told me he didn’t have a Seder plate, and asked if we had an extra one to spare. Unfortunately we didn’t. This year we had literally sold every last plate.

We started to create a makeshift Seder plate by taking portions from my own family’s meal. My employee also started to extract items from his Seder plate to complete this poor man’s plate.

While we were in the middle of preparing this plate for him, my driver called to say that Mrs. Kohan would not accept the food.

We were able to offer him Mrs. Goldman’s seder plate, and the entire contents of her order. 

The Haggadah writes, “All who are hungry, let them come and eat. All who are needy, let them come and celebrate the Passover with us.”

We were so grateful to have been part of the mitzvah to help feed a less fortunate person.

Imagine what went on “behind the scenes” in order for this man to have food for Pesach. Hashem knew this Jewish man would be in need, and utilized His pawns: the catering company, Mrs. Goldman, the anonymous donor, the driver, and myself to ensure that it happened. Every detail had to go inexplicably “wrong” for the man to have the food he needed.

This event illustrates Hashem’s constant and detailed hand in our lives. These separate pieces were all necessary moments to ensure that an anonymous Jew had what he needed to celebrate Pesach.

Perhaps when things go wrong, they are actually going exactly as planned.

As we all face mounting, unfortunate occurrences and disappointments with COVID-19, I can’t help but think of this story. We must believe that these inexplicable and somewhat mind-boggling events are merely fragments of a larger plan. They are part of Hashem’s tapestry to form a larger picture that hopefully will become clear to us in the near future.

May we all see that beautiful plan very soon.

[1] Name has been changed