Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5766 - June 21, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 24: Jerusalem June 2002 — Part 1

As Eli and Fay are on their way to Israel. Fred Smith is also in Israel. We return to Daniel (Dean) and Esther.


Esther returned from work and walked into the apartment. For the first few moments after she entered she simply stood and gazed around her. For so many long months she had felt marriage was something she could never have — and yet here she was, married to Daniel, living in this conveniently located apartment.

She still couldn't get over that they lived in a perfect location and rent-free. They had offered to pay something, but the landlord had been adamant.

"If Daniel hadn't cleared out this area then there would have been no apartment, just a storeroom. Besides, I couldn't rent it out anyway. Who else could I allow to enter through the store? In any event I have come to rely on Daniel helping me bring the deliveries in early each morning. So please don't even think about paying me money for rent."

Esther's work was five minutes down the road. Her family lived fifteen minutes away in the opposite direction. Daniel's kollel was only a bit further. A brisk half- hour walk, he told her.

The apartment itself was so pleasant. There was a central room that served as a dining room and salon, and leading off was their bedroom. Her salary and Daniel's small kollel stipend were sufficient for them to live on.

Together they had bought secondhand furniture and Esther had polished each piece till it looked like new. She had covered the old kitchen table with a bright yellow-and-blue plastic cloth. Remnants of materials in the same shades of blue and yellow were repeated through the house, as curtains on the windows overlooking the street below, as a cloth on their dining room table, and as small square cushions on the dark blue sofa. Altogether the effect was pleasing.

It was time to stop dreaming, to prepare food for the evening meal. Esther changed into her housecoat and began peeling and chopping vegetables. As she worked, thoughts came to her mind. Daniel knew all about her family. They sometimes spent Shabbos with them. Yet about his family she knew nothing. She only knew that it was because of his family circumstances that he wanted a small wedding. He never said one word to her about his childhood. Why? What was he hiding?

Esther tried to put these thoughts away. Her Daniel was a good man. She must forget these thoughts.

Daniel usually returned just as the meal was ready. This first year of marriage he didn't go to an evening shiur. As the law decreed, he spent the time with his new bride.

The evening flew by as she told of her plans for improving the leaflets at work while Daniel told her an interesting tidbit from his day of learning.

The problems began unexpectedly. There was that strange incident when an American had shouted out, "Hey, Dean! Is that you hiding behind that big beard? Man I would know your walk anywhere. How goes it?"

Her husband's reaction had been a shock, "Tell the man I don't speak English and let's get away from here."

They had walked hurriedly in the opposite direction from which they had come and instead of going shopping they had gone home. Yet Daniel would give her no explanation of his strange behavior.

Then there was the time a group came specifically to visit Ezrat Horeinu. They would be in a hotel for Shabbos. Esther was asked if she would spend Shabbos with the group and her husband would lead proceedings, making Kiddush, giving a dvar Torah, and generally seeing that the Shabbos experience was a good one.

Esther had never ever spent time in a smart hotel. She was bubbling with excitement when she arrived home. Her husband's reaction was sharp. "No. Absolutely not. Tell them to find someone else."

Esther thought for a moment and then said, "The kashrus standards are fine. I already checked that out. The shul is also fine. I made sure of all this before I agreed. Why can't we go?"

She saw a strange look in her husband's expression, something she had never seen before. It appeared to her he was frightened. Yet how could that be? What was there to be afraid of?

She heard words. "We will not go. You should not have agreed without asking me first. Truly I am sorry, but there is no way I can go."

She had forced the incident away, persuading herself that Daniel had a good reason, both for the refusal, and also the manner of the refusal. However, thoughts about the incident refused to leave and they swam together in her mind with the strange day when a man had cried out "Hey Dean!" and Daniel had pretended he didn't speak English.


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