Anyone who has witnessed the intense insanity that precedes Passover can appreciate the disappointment and anxiety of someone who is hospitalized just before a holiday. The preparation for Passover consists of house cleaning that lasts for weeks and is so obsessive as to put your average sufferer of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) to shame. Then there is the cooking, which is endless. There is always the feeling that there isn't enough food, even though there are at least 5 meat dishes, 10 types of salads and side dishes and soup with matzah balls, there doesn't seem to be enough. In fact, there is enough food at the Seder table to feed the entire population that actually lived through the Exodus with leftovers for the next week.
Just before the holiday, an elderly religious woman was brought down to the pain clinic from orthopedics with severe lower back pain. The surgeon requested a selective nerve block to help assess the pathology and decide on a treatment plan. The woman was bedridden because of the pain and it was an impressive logistic feat to transfer her to the treatment table in the cramped clinic. While the room was being prepared, I noticed that the woman seemed quite upset about something. I asked her what was the matter.
She was distraught because there was no way she could prepare for the holiday and might not even be able to be present for the Seder. I asked her how many children she has. She quickly recited the roll call: 7 children, 15 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
I asked, "You raised and educated them according to tradition right?"
"Of course", she replied.
"So, your children should be able to conduct the Passover Seder perfectly, right?"
"Of course it isn't the same if you aren't there, but you raised your children the best way possible and everything will be just fine. You need to concentrate on recuperating. Your health is more important than the holiday."
(For those not familiar with Jewish philosophy, briefly and most inadequately: The sanctity of human life is valued above all other considerations, even the most important. So for example, working on the Sabbath to save a life, a limb or relieve suffering is permitted.)
Put in this light, the woman seemed relieved and less agitated. "Your right." she said, "The family will be fine because I taught them well."