Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Tammuz 5766 - July 12, 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 25: Eli and Fay Tell their Story — Part 2

Daniel has met his parents in Jerusalem, and now they have gotten together with his wife Esther and Rav Dov to catch up on what has happened. Fay has been looking through Esther's sketchbook, and she suddenly spots a sketch of Fred Smith.


Esther had gone out of the room momentarily to bring in fresh coffee. She saw the trio gathered around the sketchbook. She saw their expressions.

"I know my drawings aren't much good — but are they so bad?" she said and gave a brittle laugh.

"Esther, where did you draw this last picture?" Daniel said in a strained voice.

She looked at him trying to work out what she had done wrong and then said, "Yesterday, when I took the money to the bank. You know, next to that big department store there is a cafe. That young man is always there, sometimes alone, sometimes talking to a friend. He has such a strange expression. He sits in such a tense way. So yesterday, after I passed by him and while I was waiting in the queue at the bank, I drew this. Why? What's the matter?"

Events moved rapidly. Rav Dov now stopped being a silent listener and began to act. A police inspector was called.

"This must be acted upon immediately," they heard the Rov say over the phone. "Remember the times you have called me and I have helped immediately. Well this must be done now, by you, and not passed on to someone else."

The arrival of a police car very soon showed that the words spoken by the Rov had been taken seriously. Daniel and his father accompanied the police in order to make sure the correct man was apprehended.

A short time later a young American man was being hustled away in custody on charges of dealing in forbidden drugs. He protested noisily. Esther, in her innocence, had drawn a packet being handed over but had not understood the implications.

However when Eli and Fay, together with Daniel, walked into the small cell-like room an hour later, Fred Smith suddenly stopped his vocal protests and went white and silent. After some moments he said, "I want a lawyer".

Daniel waited with his parents while a lawyer was contacted. Fred Smith refused to say anything until legal counsel arrived. Two ferret-faced men came in to the police station, with an offer to bail out the young American whom they had seen arrested a short time ago.

When they were taken to the prisoner, his reaction was unexpected. "No, I don't want bail. I don't want a lawyer. Take them away."

Only Daniel, quietly watching from a corner, understood his reaction. He murmured some words in Hebrew into the ear of the policeman nearest to him. Moments later, two very angry men were being questioned about the guns with silencers which had been found in their pockets. Soon the gunmen, whom Daniel had feared for so long, were being taken into custody.

The appearance of these two men seemed to loosen the tongue of Fred Smith. He began to talk rapidly and clearly of past events. The tape recorder whirred on and his words were recorded on them. Eli, Fay, and Daniel listened to the complex tale of greed that lay behind their ordeal.


Rav Dov had not gone to the police station. He had to give his weekly shiur. He had parents of a bochur waiting to meet him.

However, he had returned to the yeshiva in a happier frame of mind. There was a sense of relief from thoughts that had plagued him all through the night. He had not made a terrible mistake after all. He had done exactly as he had believed. He had helped a fine young man through troublesome events.

It was later in the day as he listened to Daniel and his father in his office, accounting the events of the day, that he suddenly realized what it was that had been worrying him all along. He noticed that both Daniel and his father were rubbing the cloth on their trousers between their fingers. It was clearly a nervous habit shared by father and son. But it was also a habit that, Rav Dov suddenly recalled, he knew from a long time ago.

He thought back to the Kesubah that Daniel had shown him on the very first day, here in the same office. "Your father, whose apartment you kept in Brooklyn — I remember on the kesubah that his name was Boruch Ben Yitzchok Chaim. Do you know if his friends by any chance knew him as Berele? Was he a tall thin man with a slight limp?" Rav Dov asked in a strained voice.

"Yes, but how could you know?" said Eli.

"Oh, but I remember Berele. I even remember when he was ill once and they despaired of his life and they added the name Chaim. I remember when he chased some antisemitic hooligans in the street and slipped and broke his leg. It never healed properly and after that he limped.

"But most of all I remember how, when he was under pressure, he used to rub the cloth of his trousers between his fingers, just as you both have been doing this past few moments as you told of the time in the police station."

He looked at them and chuckled as they moved their hands rapidly away.

Rav Dov continued, "I certainly remember our neighbor, my father's friend, Berele. He had a certificate for Palestine. It was in 1939. He gave it to my father. He said he had family in America and he would go there instead. After we arrived here in safety — my father, my mother, and I — my father agonized, wondering if he had also gotten out safely. We tried for so many years to find him. My father always felt he had a debt to repay."

"Well, now you have repaid it in full" said Eli. "You cared for our son when he was alone and friendless. What would have happened if you had not been here to guide him?"


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