Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Av 5760 - August 16, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
A Trip to the Sea
A True Story by Menucha Levin

It was the middle of a long hot summer. Each day the sun blazed down from the bright blue sky and the sizzling air didn't stir. Miriam longed to get away for a short holiday to the sea, but sadly, she knew it would not be possible this year. The local girls' school where she taught English did not pay its staff over the summer and recent large dental bills had wiped out all vacation plans.

Eight-year-old Shira didn't nag or complain, but Miriam knew her daughter would love a break. Then they saw a colorful sign posted on the bulletin board of their neighborhood grocery store. It advertised a one-day bus trip for women and girls from their community to the beach. The cost was forty shekel, a very reasonable price for such an outing.

"Could we go, Mommy? Please?" Shira asked, her huge brown eyes beseeching. "All my friends say they're going on this trip and Dina Rosen, my best friend, says she and her mother are going for sure. I could wear the new bathing suit Auntie Faigi sent me. And we could collect seashells, like we did last summer. Couldn't we go, too? It would be so fun!"

"So much fun, you mean," Miriam automatically corrected. She had been an English teacher for too many years to let her own daughter get away with such a grammatical error.

"Yes," she agreed. "I'm sure it would be fun. I think we could just about manage the price for you, and if Dina is going, I'll ask her mother if she would keep an eye on you. I wish I could go too, honey," she added softly, suppressing a sigh.

"Does it cost a lot of money?" Shira asked.

"Forty shekel. For some people that's not a lot at all. But for us, right now, it would be difficult," Miriam explained.

"Then I will daven that both of us can go," Shira assured her mother. Then she reconsidered. "It is O.K. to pray for something like a trip to the beach? Or should we pray only for really important things, like refua sheleima for Zeidy?"

"I think we can pray for everything and anything, sweetie. We may not always get whatever we ask for, but we can still try. Hashem is always listening."

Just then, Miriam's eye fell upon another sign on the bulletin board, faded by contrast and half hidden now by the bright, colorful ad for the beach outing. It was her own sign, advertising private English lessons. Optimistically, she had placed it there several months earlier, hoping she would be able to earn a little extra income over the summer. But she had had only a few calls in response and none had worked out. If only someone had taken lessons from me, she thought wistfully, then I'd have had enough money for several trips to the beach. Forty shekel was exactly what she charged for a private lesson. How ironic.

That evening, Miriam called Mrs. Rosen, who assured her that she would be pleased to supervise Shira on the trip.

"She's such a sweet girl. It would be my pleasure. And it will be more fun for Dina, too, if Shira comes along. But what a shame that you can't make it yourself. I find these trips are always a nice little break, especially during the terrible heat wave."

Miriam agreed longingly. "I know, but maybe some other time."

No sooner had she hung up the phone, when it rang, startling her.

"You are teaching English lessons?" It was an older woman's voice, quite heavily accented.

"Why, yes," Miriam replied, taken by surprise.

"I want to make better my English. It's good for you for a lesson tomorrow?" the woman asked.

"Certainly," Miriam assured her.

"How much it is, the lesson?" the woman inquired.

"Forty shekel for one hour." Miriam hoped she wouldn't back out.

"That is okay," she agreed. "My name it is Ora. What time I must to come?"

They agreed on five o'clock and Miriam gave her the address.

As she hung up the phone, Miriam felt cautiously optimistic but decided not to say anything to Shira just yet. She would not be surprised if the woman didn't show up. That had happened before. Still, she prepared the lesson and sent Shira over to play at Dina's apartment at ten to five.

Promptly at five, Miriam's student rang the doorbell. Ora turned out to be a plump, middle-aged woman who clearly found English a struggle. But Miriam was patient and tried her best to make it an interesting lesson.

At the end of the hour, the woman sighed, stood up and placed two crisp twenty-shekel bills on the table.

"Thank you. It is very good lesson. But I see English is so hard language. Maybe I call you for more lessons a later time."

"Tell me, Ora, how did you know I give English lessons?"

"I see sign on the board by the store. I am looking on sign for the beach, but under I see your sign and think maybe I need lessons."

Ora said good-bye and left. Somehow, Miriam had a feeling she would not hear from her again. But it didn't really matter now.

Picking up the money in her hand, she closed her eyes for a moment. She could almost feel herself breathing the tangy sea air, floating in the cool blue waves, splashing and laughing with Shira, collecting shells together, marvelling at the perfectly beautiful designs of Hashem. As gratitude filled her heart, she thought how perfect were all His designs, both large and small. How very perfect, indeed.


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