Two hours till Shabbos on a sunny Friday afternoon in
Jerusalem. Temporarily, I escape the steamy kitchen chaos --
the vegetable peel aftermath of cholent and salad
making -- to hang up one more load of laundry. It's winter
and I don't have a dryer, and wet laundry is anxiously
awaiting its moment in the sun.
Quickly pegging the assorted shirts and pants while enjoying
the fresh air, I see my neighbor -- I'll call her Bessie
Baalebusta -- going for a walk with her little children. Two
hours before Shabos (and one of the earliest of the year, at
that!) and already they are bathed, brushed and beautifully
dressed. Even from across the street, I can see their hair
shine. And bli ayin hora, she's got five of them under
the age of six, or is it six under the age of five? I'm not
quite sure, but she definitely has a set of twins in there
somewhere. Always surrounded by children, Bessie is
constantly calm, competent and organized in a way that I
could never be.
All her Shabbos food was cooked and prepared early in the
week. No last minute loads of laundry for her, chas
v'sholom. Vegetable peelings strewn across her kitchen
table in a Friday beat-the-clock frenzy? Never!
Bessie is an Organizer, the kind of woman who plans ahead,
makes lists and schedules, sticks to them, and has her whole
life down to an efficient science. She starts her Pesach
cleaning the day after wrapping up all the Chanuka
menoras instead of letting them gather a thick layer
of gray dust on the window ledge. Mold simply would not be
permitted to grow under her kitchen sink.
Like many women, Bessie is capable of doing several things
simultaneously, but she can do them faster and better. For
example, she can cook spaghetti, change a diaper, fix a toy,
organize a carpool over the phone, break up a toddlers' fight
[Ed. Bessie's kids fight?] and plan a smashing birthday party
for twenty-two kids at virtually the same time. She has at
least a dozen recipes for foolproof gefilte fish (even for
Pesach). She can listen patiently to a five-year-old's
endless story about her day in gan. She is quite
capable of managing on only four hours of interrupted sleep.
And, of course, you can eat off her glossy kitchen floor any
time you feel like it.
She cooks nourishing, wholesome, well balanced meals for her
family. Her kids don't even know what junk food is, let alone
regard it as a staple item. As she cleans, mops, scours,
scrubs, vacuums and washes, she listens to Torah tapes for
inspiration. She collects tzedoka for worthy local
causes. She davens with her children every day. Even
in her ninth month, she still invited Shabbos guests.
A true eishes chayil is Bessie. She never spends
frantic moments searching for a crucial lost document.
Neither does she possess a hazardous handbag referred to by
her family as "the black hole." UFO's (Unidentified Fungal
Objects) never grow in the dark back corners of her fridge.
Apart from everything else, she is perpetually cheerful,
patient and amazingly sane.
Does she ever lose her temper and shriek at her kids? Do they
ever go off to school with mismatched socks and untrimmed
fingernails? Do her children ever scratch their heads for
some unmentionable reason?
Does she ever have those crazy mornings when nothing goes
right, when essential schoolbooks disappear, snacks can't be
found, the last bag of milk has turned sour, someone lost his
left shoe and everyone is snarly and running late?
Definitely not! The Bessies of this world simply would not
allow these calamities to occur. These women do an incredible
job and they have my deepest respect and admiration, despite
the occasional inferiority complex they inflict upon me. But
maybe it's time for us Disorganized Deenas and Last- Minute
Layas to stop comparing ourselves. Maybe we should band
together and fight back. We may not be perfect, but we're not
doing such a bad job, either. Our husbands and kids still
love us, right? I managed to hang up that laundry, tossed out
all the vegetable peels (even the one that rolled under the
radiator), wrote this article and still got my candles lit on
Who needs to eat off a kitchen floor, anyway?
[O.K. Managing Menuchas of the world, unite, and do some more
writing for Yated's Home and Family! Never published before?
Try your luck. We've launched writers for their first time.
Bet you the Bessies can't write like the Menuchas! You have
to be a bit spacey and original and disorganized to take time
off for such essential non-essentials. But, Menucha, you've
given us plenty to be proud of -- for being our own lovable
selves. And -- readers -- the challenge is on -- not
necessarily two hours before Shabbos! Our FAX - 02- 5387998
or address: Weinbach, Panim Meirot 1. Entry need not be
typewritten, just legible.]