Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Kislev 5764 - November 26, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Clever Mom
by Miriam Flam

Late one afternoon, Mrs. Braun called her machatenes, Mrs. Berkowitz, and festively declared, "I'm planning a surprise birthday party for Yoni."

Yoni! The mere mention of the name of their mutual and adorable grandson, a first for both of them, caused Mrs. Berkowitz to smile.

"We'll leave Bnei Brak on the 6:00 p.m. bus, and we'll be in Yerusholayim by about 7:00," Mrs. Braun continued. "That's a perfect time because Yoni generally naps in the afternoon."

"Today?" Mrs. Berkowitz nervously asked, as she uninentionally cut Mrs. Braun short.

"Of course! Today's the 12th of Cheshvan, and Yoni's exactly a year old," Mrs. Braun said in delight, not noticing Mrs. Berkowitz's tense silence. "Actually, it's my daughter Gitty's idea. I just wanted to ask you what bus we should take from the central bus station."

Mrs. Berkowitz patiently explained how to reach Shoshi's house. She also made a few remarks such as "An original idea," and "It's so nice of you to come all the way from Bnei Brak for Yoni's birthday." Then, with a sinking feeling, she hung up.

Over a cup of coffee, she tried to analyze her feelings. What's bothering me? There's nothing wrong with a vivacious mother-in-law visiting her daughter-in-law, or with a devoted grandmother giving her sweet grandson a gift for his first birthday. The young aunts will also come, and it'll be lovely.

But her motherly intuition told her that Shoshi might not be prepared for the surprise visit of an eager mother-in-law.

So what should she do? Ruin her machatenes's surprise and tell Shoshi to expect a visit? No, certainly not. Should she tell Mrs. Braun that it wasn't advisable to pay a surprise visit to a young daughter-in-law? That would be a definite cause for a fight. What then? Expeditiously, Mrs. Berkowitz picked up the receiver, knowing precisely what she would do.


Shoshi had been very busy that week. The principal of the local Beis Yaakov had unexpectedly asked her to substitute for an eighth grade teacher for a few days, and Shoshi had spent all her spare time preparing lessons. As a result, the house was upside down. Toys were scattered all over the place. Piles of dishes lay in the sink. Vegetable and grocery orders were strewn in disarray in the hall, and unfolded laundry cluttered the living room.

However, when Shoshi returned from her daily walk with Yoni, she wasn't fazed. "It's not the worst thing in the world. I'll put Yoni to bed, make supper for Yaakov, and then tackle the mess," she cheerily told herself.

Quickly, she bathed Yoni, gave him a bottle and put him in his crib. Then she began to plan supper for her husband. At first, she had thought of preparing a simple spaghetti dinner. But then she emphatically decided otherwise. "Yaakov studies hard all day in kollel. He deserves a decent meal. If the mess waited so long, it'll wait another hour, too."

Shoshi stepped over to the counter and began to prepare shnitzel and mashed potatoes, Yaakov's favorites. Suddenly, the phone rang.

"Oh, Ima, it's you. What's up?" she warmly asked.

"The birthday? I haven't forgotten it. I just thought that I'd have more time tomorrow. I've been so busy this week!"

"In half an hour? Oy, Ima! The house is a mess and I have a mountain of work. Couldn't you come over tomorrow instead?"

I don't understand. Ima's always so understanding and flexible. Why does she insist on coming in half an hour? Doesn't she see that I'm not up to it? Doesn't she realize that it's impossible?

Then, in a strained voice, she said, "O.K. Ima. See you later."

Even though her mother was never critical, Shoshi didn't want her to see the house in such a state. As soon as she hung up, Shoshi zoomed into action. Quickly, she cleaned the counters, wiped the gas stove, tossed the piles of unfolded laundry into bins on the back porch, and scrubbed the dishes.

Then she whizzed through the rooms like a hurricane, sweeping, straightening, folding and putting away. By 7:10, the house gleamed. Then, when Yaakov came home, Shoshi told him about the short notice she had received, and went into her room to change.

Ten minutes later, brisk knocks were heard. Shoshi opened the door, expecting to see her mother. How surprised she was to see her mother-in-law and young sisters-in-law.

"What a surprise! Come in! Come in!" Shoshi cried with genuine excitement.

But had you come an hour ago, the surprise would have been quite different. You would have found me scrubbing pots and pans and tossing bags of laundry onto the porch. I don't think you would have found an empty chair on which to sit! And had you come before that -- I don't even want to think about it!

Mrs. Braun entered the apartment, all smiles, and sat down on the living room couch.

"How lovely everything looks!" she noted, as she scanned the house. "Is Yoni asleep? We came to wish him a happy birthday. We have a gift for him, too, and want to give it to him personally."

"Oh, he'll be so happy with your gift and your visit," Shoshi gaily replied. Then she hurried into the kitchen. As she prepared some refreshments, she shuddered at the thought of what might have happened if her spruce and pedantic mother-in- law had seen her son's house in absolute chaos.

Suddenly, more knocks were heard and in walked Mrs. Berkowitz.

"Oh, how wonderful to see you!" Mrs. Braun greeted her. "I didn't know that you were planning to come, too."

Mrs. Berkowitz also surveyed her daughter's neat and clean house, and complimented her on her lovely robe. Then, with a smile, she told Mrs. Braun, "I thought that Shoshi would be happy if I also came to celebrate."

"I sure am," Shoshi nodded emphatically.


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