Dr. Mitzvah looked around his office. Everything was orderly, in place and ready for Pesach. The house was squeaky clean, the chametz (the foods we are not permitted to eat on Passover) was gone, the matzah was baked, the Passover shopping was finished and Mrs. Goldengreen was busy cooking and freezing delicious Passover delicacies in the kitchen. All that remained was to set the table for their big Cedarville Seder. But the First Seder was still five days away.
Just then the phone rang. Dr. Mitzvah picked up the receiver and listened. He began to nod his head excitedly. "It'll be a tight squeeze," he said, "but I'll come!" He hung up and turned to Mrs. Goldengreen.
"You won't believe this," he said with a big smile. "Guess who that was? Yakob Sari from Giza!"
"Giza?" asked Mrs. Goldengreen, “is that a new shopping mall or one of the smaller suburbs south of Cedarville?”
"It's neither!" said Dr. Mitzvah. "Giza is in Egypt. It's a little place outside the city of Cairo. There are three famous pyramids at Giza. My friends the Saris live nearby. I sent them a package of my round hand-baked matzos last week but they disappeared!"
"Who disappeared? The Saris?" asked Mrs. Goldengreen as she put another tray of Pesach cookies into the oven.
"No! The matzahs disappeared together with their Pesach heirlooms. The Saris own a heavy, old silver seder-plate, a beautiful silver kiddush cup and a big silver wine goblet for Elijah the Prophet. The silver has been in their family for generations. It's irrepleaceable! During the year they keep it in a small trunk in the cellar. They put my hand-baked matzah into the trunk too, together with four bottles of Mr. Saris's hand-pressed red wine for the Seder. But now the trunk is gone and the Saris are heartbroken. Yakob was wondering if I had time to come to Giza and help them find it. It's really perfect timing. I have five days to spare until Pesach!"
"But Pesach is when the Jewish People left Egypt. It's not a time to go back! Can't you go to Giza after Pesach?" asked Mrs. Goldengreen hopefully.
"Oh, but that will be too late! They need the seder-plate and wine cups for the Seder!"
"But what if you don't get back on time for our Seder?" cried Mrs. Goldengreen.
"Of course I will," said Dr. Mitzvah. "The flight only takes eight hours. If I leave tonight, I'll get there tomorrow. That leaves me three days in Giza and a day to return. I'll even have time to set the table!"
Sure enough, Dr. Mitzvah was in Giza the very next morning. He listened carefully while Mr. Sari told the story of the missing trunk.
It was hidden under sacks of potatoes in a corner of the cellar.
That week, when a stranger came to the house asking for work, Mr. Sari said he could clean the cellar. Several days later, he went to get a sack of potatoes only to discover that the Pesach trunk was gone!
"Hm…." said Dr. Mitzvah. "I suppose the stranger was gone too. Couldn't the police find him?"
"They didn't even look," said Mrs. Sari as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "They said they had no idea who he was or where he went, and in the sandy desert, footprints disappear very quickly."
"Sandy… hm…" repeated Dr. Mitzvah. He looked down at the floor. "Interesting…."
He looked outside the window, past the little town. The only things he saw were the ancient pyramids, standing in the same place they had always stood.
"How about a tour of the pyramids before we start investigating?" said Dr. Mitzvah.
"Now?" asked a surprised Mrs. Sari. "There's not much time to tour if we want to find that trunk before Pesach!"
"There's time enough and now is as good a touring time as any," answered Dr. Mitzvah cheerily.
Mr. Sari looked disappointed, but he was too polite a host to refuse. "Very well. I'll see if I can arrange a jeep-ride to the pyramids," he said. Dr. Mitzvah, however, wanted to walk.
"Walk? It will take much too long to walk," said Mr. Sari. "You can come back for a desert walking-tour after Pesach."
"Well then, can you find a donkey or a mule?" asked Dr. Mitzvah. "I can't see anything from a jeep."
Mr. Sari didn't know what Dr. Mitzvah wanted to see, but he rushed to town and returned with two camels. "It's all I could find. Will they do? Camels are faster in the desert."
"Hm…" said Dr. Mitzvah eyeing the camels. "I hope they're not too fast. And they're awfully high up. It's hard to see from so high up."
Mr. Sari was confused. "But the higher you are, the better you can see," he said. "And don't worry. The camels kneel down so you can climb up to the saddle. We'll be at the pyramids in no time at all."
Dr. Mitzvah wasn't willing to be hurried. He made the camel stroll slowly through the sand while he kept his eyes to the ground. As they approached the pyramids, he finally looked up and said, "Let's go to that one on the left."
"The one on the right is bigger," said Mr. Sari. "That's where all the tourists go."
"That's precisely why I want the one on the left!" Dr. Mitzvah insisted.
Mr. Sari shrugged his shoulders. "Very well, but it looks as though you'll be the only tourist there! I'll wait with the camels at the watering station and I'll come back for you when the tour is over. Just make sure you follow the guide. The pyramid is full of chambers and tunnels and dark spaces. You don't want to get lost!"
"I won't," said Dr. Mitzvah. He waved goodbye to Mr. Sari and the camels and followed the guide into the pyramid. He began to look around, always keeping his eyes to the ground. When the guide held up his lantern and stopped to explain the hierogylphics on the wall, Dr. Mitzvah continued to roam around and through the chambers.
"It's a good thing I brought my own flashlight," he thought. He turned a corner, and then another corner, and another. Soon he was out of sight.
Half an hour later, Mr. Sari returned with the camels. The guide was sitting outside smoking his water-pipe, but Dr. Mitzvah was nowhere to be seen.
"Your friend was very impatient," he said. "He left in the middle of my tour. One minute he was there and the next minute he was gone. He didn't wait for you either. He must have gone home."
"He couldn't have gone home," cried Mr. Sari. "I have the camels!"
"Well, he's not here and he's not inside. I always check carefully before I leave. I was waiting for you to come back, but it's time to lock up now."
He pushed the heavy, stone door back into place and locked the metal bars while poor Mr. Sari stood wringing his hands.
Suddenly a pounding and a muffled cry came through the thick door.
"Hello out there! It's Dr. Mitzvah in here! Can anyone hear me? Who closed the door? I can't see a thing!"
The surprised guide hurried to unlock the bars and push open the heavy door. There stood a slightly frazzled Dr. Mitzvah, pulling a small trunk with one hand and holding a burnt-out flashlight in the other.
"My my, I was afraid you had all gone and left me. I wouldn't have minded spending a night in there, but my flashlight went out and it's pitch black in that pyramid. It reminds me of the days of darkness that descended on Egypt during the Ninth Plague! Here's your trunk, Mr. Sari. Just where I thought it would be. The silver is all inside. A bit sandy, but intact."
Dr. Mitzvah dusted the sand from his grey bowler hat.
"How did you find it?! And are you all right?" Mr. Sari didn't know what to ask first.
"Tsk tsk tsk," said the guide. "Visitors aren't supposed to wander off by themselves inside the pyramid. And if you found any treasure in there, it belongs to the Egyptian Department of Antiquities."
"No it does not," said Dr. Mitzvah very emphatically. "One of your guides took it from Mr. Sari's cellar and it belongs to Mr. Sari! I intend to report this affair to the Giza police immediately!"
They tied the trunk onto the first camel and climbed up onto the second and they were off.
"Full speed ahead!" cried Dr. Mitzvah. "No need to ramble along like turtles anymore. These camels really do gallop, don't they?"
"If you're in such a hurry now, why were you going so slowly before? How did you know the trunk was in there? How did you find it? How did you find your way out?" asked Mr. Sari between gallops. He stopped to catch his breath. "And how do you know the thief was a pyramid guide?"
"My my," laughed Dr. Mitzvah. "On Pesach night we only ask Four Questions at the Seder. You've already asked me five!
"I'll begin at the beginning. I thought the most logical hiding place for the trunk was somewhere nearby where people don't usually go. Somewhere like the small pyramid. I kept my eyes to the ground all the way there. If you noticed, there were matzah crumbs on the steps outside your house. The matzah and the wine bottles must have broken when the thief pulled the trunk up from the cellar and the bottom of the trunk must have cracked. I might have missed the crumbs – they're the same color as sand – but fortunately, the wine stained them a deep red. Your trunk dripped wine and matzah all the way inside the pyramid!
"The rest was easy. I found my way out the same way I found my way in. I followed the Matzah-Crumb Trail! It's a good thing my flashlight lasted until I reached the entrance. And it's a better thing you were still there waiting! Mrs. Goldengreen always tells me to take a few extra batteries along for an emergency, but in all the rush to get here, I forgot."
"One last question," said Mr. Sari. "why are you so sure the thief was one of the tour guides at the pyramid?"
"It's obvious," said Dr. Mitzvah. "How else could he have opened the door to the pyramid and hidden the trunk inside? Can these camels go any faster? I traveled to the pyramids slowly in order to follow the crumb trail, but now that the mystery is solved, I'm in a hurry to get back to Cedarville for the Seder as soon as possible!""
Mrs. Sari was outside waiting when they arrived. "You found it!" she cried. She opened the trunk and took out the precious Pesach silver. "How can we ever thank you?"
"I knew Dr. Mitzvah would help," said Mr. Sari. "Only he could have found the Stolen Seder on time for Pesach. I'll begin baking new matzot first thing in the morning. Of course mine aren't as tasty as Dr. Mitzvah's, but I'll do my best."
"No need, Mr. Sari. When I heard my matzahs were in the stolen trunk, I brought a few more with me – the same round, hand-baked ones I sent you before," said Dr. Mitzvah.
"Then you shall return to Cedarville with four bottles of my very own hand-pressed red Pesach wine," said a happy Mr. Sari.
"And a bowl of my very own hand-chopped charoset - the fruit and nut mixture which looks like the cement the Jewish slaves had to make," added Mrs. Sari. "But don't worry - my charoset is tastier than Pharoh's cement!"
A day later, Dr. Mitzvah was safely in Cedarville, telling Mrs. Goldengreen about his pyramid adventure.
"Pyramids? Camel rides? Thieves? Hidden chambers? Such goings on! I hope you didn't pick up any strange germs in that musty pyramid!" she said.
Dr. Mitzvah smiled. "I don't think so, but I did find one thing of interest."
"Oh?" she asked suspiciously, "what did you find?"
Dr. Mitzvah held up something small, dark, dusty and dry.
"Gracious!" said Mrs. Goldengreen as she moved away. "What is that?"
"A frog. But don't worry. It's absolutely dead. I found it in the pyramid. It looks just like a dry, mummified, 3000-year old Egyptian frog should look, don't you think? Who knows, maybe it's a left-over specimin from the Plague of Frogs that filled the land of Egypt."
Mrs. Goldengreen shuddered. "Please, Dr. Mitzvah," she begged. "Put it somewhere with your other specimins in a tightly closed jar in your office. And wash your hands with soap and lots of hot water before you set the Seder table!"
Dr. Mitzvah laughed. "I will," he promised. "But I went to Egypt at the right time after all, didn't I? I went just in time to leave on time – on time for Pesach when the Jewish People left Egypt over three thousand years ago!"
A JOYFUL & KOSHER PASSOVER
TO ALL OF DR. MITZVAH'S READERS & FRIENDS!
from Dr. Mitzvah, Mrs. Goldengreen, everyone in Cedarville
JUST PUBLISHED! Now you can read twelve wonderful Dr. Mitzva stories by Yaffa Ganz, complete with bright, charming, full color illustrations in a brand new book designed just for young readers. Available from Feldheim Publishers.