Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Teves 5766 - January 11, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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











Home and Family

The Many Sides of Life
by Risa Rotman

A half hour before Shabbos, Malkie Klein knew that there might be a serious problem. "There is nothing to be done about it now," she told herself. "This will have to wait until after Shabbos. Until then, Shabbos is Shabbos."

With that, Malkie continued with her last minute preparations, davened mincha, and lit the Shabbos candles. Only the two youngest children were home with her. The rest were off to shul or shmiras haloshon groups. In between setting the table and reading to little ones, Malkie took solace in a few comforting chapters of Tehillim.

Soon the family members made their way home, one by one. Malkie greeted them all with a warm smile. A guest would be joining them that evening. Randi was a forty-something woman who somehow had never found her intended mate, or even herself, entirely, for that matter. Every couple of years Randi would move. A different neighborhood, a different city or even a different country. Presently, Randi found herself back in the same neighborhood with her old friend Malkie. When they bumped into each other at the local fruit store, there was a happy little reunion. Malkie quickly extended a Shabbos invitation. They agreed on that Friday night.

Randi surveyed the surroundings. "Malkie really did it right," she thought. "A nice husband, a whole bunch of great kids and look at her. She looks the same as she did twelve years ago. Thin, sweet smiling, not even a wrinkle," Randi considered, sizing up her friend. Randi wasn't really jealous but she did feel a twinge of what she was missing.

Throughout the meal, the two woman caught up on old news. Malkie gently prodded her children to help with the serving and clearing and to participate in the Torah talks and singing. Malkie continued to smile even when the juice spilled and the floor became sticky, when her two-year-old didn't stop screaming for no apparent reason, and even when the girls' bickering threatened to take over the meal with all the other kids taking sides.

Malkie was tired and edgy herself, but she warmly wished Randi well before tidying up the kitchen and living room. A summer Shabbos made it very late when everything and everyone was put back in order. Leaving Malkie's humble abode, Randi reflected on the evening. Such a warm, loving, family. True, they were living in tight quarters and Malkie seemed to watch her budget with great care. Money was one thing that Randi never had to be concerned with. Born to wealthy parents and the boss of her own independent business, Randi could enjoy a certain level of comfort. Despite it all, seeing Malkie made her realize once again how much she was missing. "Does Malkie know how fortunate she is?" Randi wondered.

The next morning Malkie allowed herself the luxury of sleeping in. Still she had to get up eventually and get going. The table had to be set, the little ones dressed, and Malkie liked to have extra time to daven leisurely on Shabbos morning. She went about her duties methodically. It was especially important to Malkie to have everything set up before her exceptionally helpful husband came home from shul, so that he could sit and prepare a d'var Torah.

For lunch they would be hosting two university students touring on an introductory program. Malkie and her husband usually prefered to have one of the main meals on Shabbos alone with the children, but the students were booked a few weeks earlier. The young men were congenial and seemed to have some background with Jewish practice. They asked intelligent questions and seemed to be genuinely interested in the answers given.

After the guests left, Malkie and her family settled into their regular Shabbos routine. Tehillim groups, a Brochos party, friends coming to visit, the boys learning with their father. Eventually Malkie lay down to rest. Her mind was distracted and she found it hard to rest. She tried hard not to think about what she would have to take care of after Shabbos and to keep the day happy and holy. Her girls were bored, so she agreed to play with them a Jewish holidays card game.

When it rains it pours, so they say. Friday morning Malkie's husband had met up with Boruch, an elderly widower, who'd never had any children of his own. Usually Malkie's husband, Reuven, would cheerfully invite Boruch for one of the Shabbos meals. More often than not, Boruch wouldn't show up. Lo and behold, this very Shabbos he agreed to come for the third meal. Boruch often mentioned a desire to remarry and even start a family of his own.

A lonely but friendly man, Boruch questioned Malkie about her schooling, her home town, what her parents did, and her current business, selling hats and head coverings from the house. Malkie was losing patience. Reuven picked up on it and diverted Boruch's attention with the beautiful singing. As Boruch was ushered out for maariv, he wondered why Malkie had been so unfriendly. After all, he was only asking harmless questions; making conversation.

"What's wrong with making conversation with a lonely old man. She doesn't even know what it means to have problems," Boruch grumbled to himself.

When Shabbos was definitely declared "out," Malkie and the girls zoomed into action. Sara cleared the table and prepared it for havdoloh. Rivka put in the first load of laundry. Six-year-old Racheli washed up the dairy dishes. Malkie busied herself with the fleishig dishes while her two littlest splashed in the soap and bubbles.

Malkie thought she would faint when Boruch came back in with her husband for havdoloh. She had to get out of the house as soon as possible, with as little delays as could be. At least the clean up was under control. The boys quickly straighted up the small living room and havdoloh was underway.

"Have a wonderful week, Boruch," Reuven wished his older guest, as he walked him to the exit of the building. "What? No melavah malkah?" Boruch thought to himself displeased. "Uh, and a good week to you as well," he answered meekly.

As quickly as they could, Malkie and her husband settled the kids to bed. It was so late, as it was. They left instructions with their oldest daughter and raced out of the house. In the car, the couple didn't speak much. They let the silence speak for them.

When Malkie got to the clinic she settled herself for a long wait. Her trusty Tehillim sat on her lap. Somehow she couldn't concentrate. Her husband sat in the corner reviewing his gemora. Finally it was Malkie's turn. She explained to the doctor about her concerns. He agreed to do an ultrasound. Ten minutes later, the doctor confirmed her fears. It seemed that for the time being, there would be no new baby, after all.


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