Yes, you read that correctly. When I opened the refrigerator on Thursday night to take out the food for the next meal, I noticed that the temperature inside the fridge was . . . not cold. I closed the door and immediately re-opened it, thinking maybe I was imagining things. But, no, it was definitely room temperature in there.
Still experiencing a sizable amount of denial about the situation, I placed my hand along the side of the fridge, feeling for vibrations which might indicate that it was really working, just poorly. Nothing. I opened the freezer. Defrosting was occurring. Water dripped onto the floor.
I closed and reopened the doors to the fridge and freezer a couple more times, just to verify, I guess, with a sinking feeling, that none of the food I spent three days making was going to make it much longer unless I came up with a plan.
Lesson One: It’s good to know your neighbors.
My first thought was to see if any of the neighbors had room in their fridge and freezer for the food we needed for the rest of the holiday (a total of five meals). My second thought was that everyone’s fridge was probably packed, so I might have to knock on a few doors. While I was out on my quest, my husband verified that the fridge was, in fact, still plugged in.
Wonderfully, I actually only had to knock on two doors (the first was a no answer, so that was easy in a way). Not only were the neighbors very sympathetic to our plight, but they had plenty of space for our food (they had two fridges – a big family) AND sent over a slew of (big) children to help transport the food.
Since I had to go to their house about ten times over the holiday, we got to see each other a lot, and during my many visits, they invited us for a meal for the next set of holidays, I borrowed a book to read, my kids played with their toys, and I got to shmooze a decent amount. Despite the inconvenience of having to constantly pick up and bring back my food, it was really quite nice!
Lesson two: Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions
Hopefully you’ve never had to look in your fridge and assess which items are worth saving and which are better off being replaced. It was daunting, because, obviously, I’d prefer to save everything. Even that sriracha sauce I only used once, because, you know, maybe I’ll use it again sometime in the next two years or something.
But I couldn’t exactly just transfer my whole fridge to their house, so I just chose the items that were most crucial to the meals I would be serving over the remainder of the holiday and Shabbos. This means we lost most of our condiments, and a few other random vegetables (though no one’s going to miss the celery. Poor unwanted celery).
Lesson three: Make the most of even a crazy situation
Feeling upset about the situation would have been a totally reasonable reaction. But my husband and I were so flabbergasted by it that we mainly just shook our heads and said things like “you can’t make this stuff up.” We don’t believe in coincidences, so instead of just being annoyed about the inconvenience, we thought, “hmm, this is happening to us for a reason, so what can we learn from this? What might we need to work on in our lives and spiritual practice?”
Yes, when I thought about having to call someone to come take a look at the fridge, potentially needing to buy a new appliance, figuring out how to manage without a fridge for a few days, I felt overwhelmed.
But since you’re not really supposed to plan for after Yom Tov or Shabbos while on Shabbos, and since we couldn’t do anything about it immediately, there was not much to do besides shake our heads and accept that it was decreed for us that this Rosh Hashana and Shabbos we would not have refrigeration.
Lesson four: Sometimes the solution is simple
After Shabbos ended, my husband went down to our chest freezer in the basement to freeze some ice packs for our camping-at-home refrigeration plan (we would put ice packs in a cooler and keep the bare essentials in there). He came back up almost immediately, and in a tentative voice said,
“Honey? You’re not going to believe this, but the freezer downstairs was off. All the food in there is spoiled, too.”
This really happened.
He figured out that a fuse blew, and it “just so happened” to be hooked up to the chest freezer. Okay, so apparently it was decreed that we would lose all our food. Fine. It should be a kappara. I can handle that kind of loss, especially since, mercifully, the chest freezer was not all that full.
After he flipped the fuse back on, I had a crazy thought. Maybe the fridge was attached to the same circuit. We do live in an old house, and electric stuff in old houses can be, um, interesting at times.
Wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened. Our fridge was fine. There was just no power to its outlet. I must have blown the fuse when I plugged in the hot plate (which we never use) to the same outlet my hot water urn was plugged into. This is the same outlet that I regularly use for both my crockpot and hot water urn, so it makes absolutely no sense to me that the combination of these other two appliances would be enough to blow the fuse, but you know, it was just supposed to happen that way.
And yes, even though it’s a pain to have to clean out the now-yucky chest freezer, and to toss all those condiments, I’m thrilled that the fridge is fine AND I got to clean it out pretty thoroughly, which basically never happens AND we had a chance to get all introspective about the situation. So, win win win.