Sometimes my Bubie tells us stories that are connected with the holidays that we are celebrating. Our parents do not let us go to our Bubie’s and Zada’s house to celebrate holidays but we often get a story that makes it seem that maybe our Bubie and Zada are with us. My father likes to buy my brother a new bekeshe, which is a long black coat that Chasidim wear, for Passover. I don’t know if my brother likes to wear the bekeshe because it is usually only worn by Rebbe’s sons and he isn’t a Rebbe’s son. So my Bubie told him this story to make him feel that the bekeshe he was wearing was something special and magical just for him.
When Usher Anshel David was ten years old his Father bought him a beautiful, shiny black silky bekeshe (coat/jacket that Chasidim wear on Shabbat, holidays and special events). Usher Anshel David loved his new coat. He literally felt like a “new man” whenever he wore it. The man in the store tailored the coat to fit Usher Anshel David perfectly, then looked into his eyes and said, “This is a very special and unique coat. It is something that not every young person has, but when I look at you and I look into your eyes, I can tell that this coat will bring you to places that you could only imagine. Wear it in good health! When you outgrow it, you will not be able to find another bekeshe like this in the whole world.” Usher Anshel David smiled politely and thanked the tailor for fixing the coat to fit him perfectly, then out the store he skipped to go home and show the rest of his family his new purchase.
Usher Anshel David’s Tate (Father) bought him this bekeshe especially to wear at their Pesach Seder for the first time. The evening approached and the whole family was busy getting ready for the Seder. Usher Anshel David helped his Mame and Tate prepare; however, even though he was busy getting ready, his thoughts kept going over the words of the tailor and he was getting really excited about wearing his new bekeshe for the first time that evening.
Finally, the time had arrived to get ready for the Seder and Usher Anshel David cleaned-up and put on his beautiful new bekeshe. He looked like the son of a Rebbi and he felt like a king! As the story of Passover was being told at the Seder and the songs sung, Usher Anshel David started to close his eyes. It was very late and he was very tired.
Suddenly, he heard a crash and he opened his eyes wide, looked around and couldn’t quite understand where he was. There were people all around him, running around, packing, cooking, making matzot, screaming to “hurry, hurry, hurry”. He also noticed that the clothes the people were wearing were not like what he had seen before except maybe in a book he had read in Cheder about the Jews leaving Egypt- the Exodus (yeztiat Mitzraim). “What is going on here?” thought Usher Anshel David. “Where am I”?
“Hurry”, someone yelled at him. “Take this brush and brush the blood of the lamb across the doorpost before we are out of time! We must get moving. Let’s go!”
“What is happening?” Thought Usher Anshel David. “Why is everyone in such a rush?” All of a sudden a little girl looked at him and said, “We must pack our things and leave as soon as the Angel of Death comes to take the first born. We are leaving tonight! Can you believe after all of these years, we are going to be free! We are going to Eretz Yisrael, the land of our Big Bubies and Big Zadas. It is finally happening!”
It was then that Usher Anshel David realized that he was in Egypt with his people who were about to leave and go from being slaves to being free men. He painted the blood of the lamb on the doorpost, helped wherever he could to pack and when they all heard the crying in the Egyptian homes they realized that the Angel of Death had descended upon the homes of the Egyptians to carry out the last plague that Hashem had sent in order that the Pharaoh would Let Our People Go! It was then that all of the Jews left their houses and began to make their way out of Egypt and out of over 200 years of slavery to begin to become free men and women.
Usher Anshel David was with them. He walked with his people as they left Egypt and felt the happiness that one feels when they are leaving a very bad place to go to a new home, a place where the Jewish people could worship Hashem in joy and in freedom. They walked and they sang and some of the little kids cried because they were tired and they did not understand the miracle that they were witnessing. But Usher Anshel David understood this miracle because he had learned about Yiziat Mitzraim (the Exodus) in Cheder (School for boys) and at the Seder and he felt the power of being with other Jews during a time when Hashem and his great prophet, Moshe Rabbenu, were changing the history of the Jewish people. This was the event that Jews in all future generations would remember and tell their children and here was Usher Anshel David actually leaving Egypt with all of the Jews!
Finally the Jews came to the sea and the water was high and they became afraid of going in and crossing to the other side. They could hear the Egyptian army coming to hurt them and drag them back to slavery and they began to complain and to cry to Moshe. Moshe tried to calm them down, “It will be ok b’seder” (This is the first time this expression, which is said all of the time in modern times was used) “Yehiye B’seder”, Moshe told everyone. But the Jews still complained and started blaming Moshe for taking them out of Egypt. It was the first time they complained but it certainly would not be the last time. The Jews often complained on their long journey to Eretz Yisrael, the Promised Land.
Suddenly, Usher Anshel David knew what he had to do. He walked forward and began to go into the sea. Every one became very quiet. They stopped complaining and all eyes were on Usher Anshel David as he walked farther and deeper into the water. All at once, a great miracle happened and the water in the sea split into two great walls of water, one on the left and one on the right. In the center the land was dry and everyone gasped and couldn’t move after the miracle they had just witnessed. Usher Anshel David turned around and said to everyone, “Hurry, we must cross over quickly”. Just then, the whole people began to walk across the dry land, looking to the left and looking to the right at the great walls of water being held back by invisible hands- it was truly a miracle!
The Jews made it safely across the sea as they turned and saw that all of the Egyptian army was also crossing over on the dry land, but before they could cry out, the walls of water came crashing down and all of the Egyptian army was washed away into the sea.
The Jews began to cheer and to sing, but Moshe told them that, even though we are grateful to Hashem for once again saving us from our enemies, we could not rejoice when people were drowned and killed. We should always hope and pray that the evil people who want to kill us will someday do Tshuva, (return to the ways of Hashem) and want to make peace with us.
Just as Usher Anshel David arrived on the other side of the sea, he closed his eyes for a moment to rest and when he opened them guess what he saw? Suddenly, he was sitting back at his Seder Table in Mea Shearim with his family singing V’Hi Sheamda! Tate looked at Usher Anshel David as he opened his eyes and said, “Where have you been, Usher Anshel David? You went to lie down for a moment. Why is your Bekeshe wet? Did you spill water on yourself?”
Usher Anshel David looked at his Tate and his Mame and all of his siblings and said, “I just left Egypt with all of the Jews. We crossed the Red Sea after it split, after I walked in it and I painted the doorpost with the blood of the lamb so the Angel of Death would pass over our home. I was there!”
“Of course you were there”, said Usher Anshel David’s Tate. “We were all there, just like we were all at Sinai when the Torah was given to the Jewish people.” “No Tate, I WAS REALLY THERE- WITH ALL OF THE YIDDEN GOING OUT OF EGYPT! I SAW EVERYTHING! I HEARD MOSHE RABBENU SPEAK! I WALKED FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM!”
Usher Anshel David’s family believed that he had really experienced leaving Egypt because that was the Mitzvah that all Jews had to do at the Pesach Seder, but Usher Anshel David, looked at all of them and then he remembered the words of the tailor, "This coat will bring you to places that you could only imagine”. Then Usher Anshel David realized that this bekeshe, his bekeshe was really a magic bekeshe. By shutting his eyes and imagining another place and even another time, his bekeshe could transport him to that place for a magical and even miraculous experience. The tailor was right, he needed to take very good care of this coat and remember that he would only have it for a short period in his life, until he grew out of it, and because of this, he needed to cherish the bekeshe and the places it would bring him, places that he could only imagine!