Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Iyar 5768 - May 8, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

A Silent Escape
By Nechama Emmett

He tightens his grip around the little cold hand he holds. He pulls his thin threadbare coat around himself. He doesn't slow his pace for a moment as he glances down at the little boy. He sees that his face is red from the freezing winds. His upper lip is wet from a cold he can't get rid of, but there is no tissue to wipe it with. There is nothing to protect him from the biting winter.

Tears glisten in his little eyes. He wants to look up but can't. He knows he has to concentrate on every step so that he won't fall. His thin socks have slid down into his boots, a size to big. The rain is coming in, his toes begin to ache.

He is desperate to ask where they are going. When will they arrive? Will there be hot chocolate and fresh yeast cake spread on a clean white cloth? Will the bath be waiting ready and hot with a big fluffy towel he can drown himself in? Will there be a pair of loving arms to protect him?

He can no longer control the desire to look up at his father. He wants to know, he needs to ask. The rain is so hard now that it hurts his face. His father's beard is dripping wet. His coat hangs heavy on his shoulders. His eyes stare straight ahead, with a faraway look.

He will not ask — not now, not ever. He will not ask if he will ever see his mother's kind smile again, or hear the sweet playful laugh of his sister. He'll try not to think of never seeing the chubby face of his baby brother again.

They have passed the houses, the people. They have left the village and entered the forest. The day had been bright despite the rain, but in the forest all was dark and shadowy.

For the first time that day he was confronted by a very real fear. He was afraid to stop, afraid to keep going.

The ground was a sea of thick mud. Every step needed more effort than the last. Even his father's steps began to slow, eventually stopping at a clearing. His mind buzzed with questions. Did we walk since dawn for this? Will we spend the night sleeping on wet leaves?

A sudden hunger invaded his stomach. Now he craved even the stale black bread he'd been eating the last few weeks. He sat silently, thinking about happier times as his father swayed to the evening prayers. He closed his own eyes and prayed the prayer of a child with the emotion of a man.

Please G-d, let this end, let us go home to my feathered quilt and the old bear that lay between the big pillows at the head of my bed, in my cozy room. And Hashem, please let that little crack of light shine from under the door, so reassuring. But one last request, what I want most of all: Let my mother come and place just one more good night kiss on my cheek.

Soon he drifted of to sleep with hope in his heart, but fear of the future.


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