Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Tammuz 5764 - July 7, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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











Home and Family

The Wisdom of Women...
by Yisca Shimony

Hashya stood by the window, looking at the darkening sky. In the semidarkness, she lowered her gaze to the beautiful garden and as she looked at the lengthening shadows of the trees, she felt foreboding and fear. Sadness enveloped her as she recalled the hasty departure of her dear husband who had left Rome on a business trip. Now that the children were already in bed and supper was eaten, she recalled the sad moments of his unexpected departure. "What is he doing now?" she wondered. "Probably studying in the room of his inn," she answered her own question.

"Senora," said the old cook as she came into the room. "What shall I cook for tomorrow's dinner?"

"Ah, yes..." she said, drawn out of her sad reverie. "First thing, bring in the lamps; it's getting dark." Hashya fidgeted as the darkness in the room deepened. She sat on the couch and tried to concentrate on the menu for the next day's dinner when suddenly, without warning, loud screams were heard from the next house. She jumped up in fear.

"There he goes again," murmured the cook. "Our neighbor is drunk, as usual..."

"But it's so early. He doesn't usually come home before midnight."

The cook shrugged her shoulders and moved quickly to the window, closed the shutters and pulled the drapes across tightly but to no avail. Loud screams were heard clearly. Exasperated, Hashya asked the cook to see what food items there were in the pantry so they could proceed with planning dinner. She requested that a lamp be sent to the bedroom where she hoped to escape the growls and violent curses of their drunken neighbor. But even after she retired to the bedroom which faced the back, the noise was clearly heard.

The screaming continued sporadically into the late evening and, tossing and turning in her bed, tired as she was, Hashya could not fall asleep.

For a long time she listened to the wild ranting until it finally died down. Still restless and upset, she began pacing the room in the semi-darkness. I'll go down to the kitchen and sit a while with the cook, who's always up late. Perhaps with a hot drink, I'll be able to relax, she thought.

As she entered the brightly lit kitchen, Hashya turned to the cook, "I don't know why, but I feel very restless. I'll keep you company here a while, but later I will want some more lamps brought up to my bedroom."

The cook hesitated for a moment, not wishing to further disturb her mistress, but blurted, "Senora, something is wrong. In the quiet of the night, I could hear running footsteps and through the window, I saw a bundle being thrown into our garden. I wonder what it was..."

"Is the gardener asleep?" Spurred into action, Hashya set aside her fears for the moment to face the situation head-on. "I'd like to talk to him."

"I'll go and call him," said the cook. Hashya was grateful. She sat by the large wooden table for a seemingly long time, though it was not more than minutes. At last, the cook and gardener entered, looking very pale.

"What is it?" asked Hashya in alarm.

The cook put a finger to her lips and whispered, "Come along."

The moon was bright and the path was clearly illuminated. The gardener led Hashya and the cook to the bushes by the gate where the bundle had been thrown in. There on the ground, half exposed, lay the dead body of a child. Hashya was about to scream but the cook quickly hushed her. She leaned on the cook's shoulder weakly. "Who is this child?" she managed to ask.

"It's the infant son of our drunken neighbor," whispered the cook. "They threw him here. Who knows how he died..."

"What shall we do?" asked Hashya, feeling faint, her knees buckling under her. "How I regret my husband isn't here now."

"We can drop the body into the cellar for the meanwhile," suggested the gardener.

"Oh, no! That's the worst place! We must think of something better!" said the cook.

Hashya turned to the gardener, "Bring him into the kitchen..."

The three moved towards the kitchen, the cook wondering what her mistress had in mind. Suddenly Hashya began laughing.

What could possibly be funny about this? thought the cook, afraid that the dangerous situation had unhinged her mistress' mind. "Are you alright?"

Hashya looked at her reassuringly. "Listen! I have a plan!" She led the way briskly into the kitchen, following by her servants. "What do you think our neighbor was plotting? Surely, drunk as he was, he was scheming something against us. He will soon bring the police here and when they find the body, we will be accused of murdering him.

"Under the circumstances, hiding the body is not a good idea and we don't have enough time to get rid of it any other way. We may be under surveillance already. The police will surely make a thorough search of the house. My plan is as follows: we will make preparations for my imminent delivery of a baby." She turned to the gardener.

"Bring the child upstairs to my bedroom. And you," she turned to the cook, "boil up plenty of hot water and collect as many sheets and towels as you can find, then come upstairs. This will make it look real. Hopefully, Hashem will help us out of this predicament and save us from this cruel plot."

Hashya climbed the stairs quickly, followed by the gardener and soon after, by the cook. Soon the whole household was awake. The cook and gardener kept on going up and down with towels and pails of water while Hashya kept moaning and groaning aloud as if in the throes of childbirth.

The police duly made their appearance shortly and a young maid had to allow them to make their search. They went from roof to cellar and examined all the grounds outside, but could not find a thing. All night long, Hashya had been moaning and wailing throughout a long childbirth, with the women of the household wringing their hands anxiously. In the morning, it was announced that Hashya had given birth to a stillborn child, who was quickly buried in the local cemetery.

The police were suspicious, however, and kept vigil on the house, hidden under bushes and behind trees, during the day and the following night. They did not have long to wait for when the neighbor returned home, drunk as usual, he began ranting and raving and cursing his wife vilely. She began screaming hysterically for help, "Don't kill me like you killed our son!"

A glass was shattered and she ran out of the house, afraid for her life. The police were there and arrested her and went in to seize her husband. The two confessed that after he had killed the child in drunken anger, they had both plotted to put the blame on their Jewish neighbors, whom they mutally despised and envied.

Hashya was also taken in for questioning and soon the entire story came to light. The couple was duly punished and the entire Jewish community joined in thanksgiving to Hashem for having been saved from the terrible consequences of another blood libel.


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