He looked so happy, sitting there at the head table in his
new suit and hat, swaying to the music, smiling freely to
all the guests. Tzvia and I peeked our heads in a little
further to the men's side, hoping that Yanky would see us.
Two men were now dancing an amusing dance while Yanky's
smile grew and grew. Then he looked up and spotted Tzvia.
His face lit up as he tipped his hat gentlemanly, then he
waved. I was afraid that Tzvia might run in and try to hug
him but, Baruch Hashem, she just grinned and waved back. She
was slowly becoming a lady after all.
We went back to the women's side where I marveled to Yanky's
mother, "What a beautiful Bar Mitzva!" And I thought to
myself, "What a beautiful Down's boy Yanky is." I shook my
head trying not to let my nervousness of the future
interrupt my enjoyment of the present, but it was there:
only six more weeks until Tzvia's Bat Mitzva. Others take
their daughters to the Kotel or have a small melave
malka with just family or maybe two or three friends,
but I knew that Tzvia needed more than that. After she had
been to her five brothers' bountiful Bar Mitzva parties, she
told me, "Me have BIG Bar Mitzva!" I thought to myself, "No.
I'll make her a party and invite a good two dozen girls and
women from the neighborhood. It'll be just big enough. I can
make a really delectable spread of cakes and salads. Tzvia
The next day I scanned the dress shops in town for the third
time that month. The styles were still gray and black. Tzvia
is not a `gray and black' person! She's a flowery, colorful,
sweeping skirt person. Here in Z'fat I just couldn't find
anything at all appropriate for her. Stepping out of one
more shop and feeling hopeless, I bumped into my friend. As
we chatted, she mentioned that she would be driving to
Jerusalem the next day. I decided to go along. There just
had to be the perfect dress for Tzvia in Jerusalem.
In the car, Leah and I chatted all the way until the pearl
white hills began to rise before us. The anticipation of
Jerusalem's splendor and holiness quieted us and we drove on
in silence. In awe.
In front of us, we watched the bareness roaming free on the
desert hills surrounding Jerusalem. No life except the
brambles. Yet full of life -- the life of eternity. Turning,
I looked out the window, feeling the majesty. The royalty.
The hills bowing low like servants of a might king. Miles
and miles of these majestic beings prostrating themselves
before us -- the nobility of the King. Us - the Jewish
nation. The sandy slopes paradoxically reminded me of water.
Rolling waves sculpted in sand, glittering and glistening.
Hill after hill of sand waves, but waves move and sand
mountains don't. Yet they move me. These rolling white waves
of infinity, these hills that I love so much and see so
Tears glittered and glistened on my cheeks. I thought of all
the sweetness in Tzvia. And all the sadness in me. And it
hurt. Watching the bowing mountains around and above us, I
resolved: if they can bow to Hashem's will, then so must I.
"Please, Hashem," tears rippled down my cheeks, "help me to
bow before You and accept this beautiful child that You've
given me just the way she is."
We can't know the depths of holiness within the hills of
Jerusalem, and neither can we know the depths of a Jewish
neshoma and a `special' one at that.
I wondered if it was right to compare Tzvia's Bat Mitzva to
the majesty of Jerusalem, yet Hashem and Jerusalem are so
obviously connected. So, too, is Hashem and each person
within the Jewish nation connected. Each of us compares with
the majesty of Jerusalem. We just don't always see it.
On Tzvia's Bat Mitzva night I saw it.
At home, I presented the giftwrapped dress to Tzvia. The
dress had green flowers on a black background, simple yet
beautiful. So very like Tzvia. She opened it and hugged me
A few weeks later, an hour before the actual Bat Mitzva
party, two of my neighbor's teenagers, Rivkale and Aidel,
blew up balloons and hung them overhead. The table was set
sumptuously with a variety of cakes and salads plus the
special cake that I had made in the center of the table with
a large flowered `12' on it and lots of colored sprinkles:
Soon girls began to arrive. More than I had expected. No one
saw the balloons. Nor the cakes. No one saw anything except
for Tzvia glowing.
Tzvia's hair had a beautiful sheen, like golden-red water
falling to her shoulders. Rivkale approached Tzvia and
gently crowned her head with a circlet of woven sunkissed
daisies from her own garden. Tzvia touched it gingerly. I
remembered back to a class I had attended a few weeks
before. The teacher had asked, "What, exactly, is a crown? A
crown is that which is ABOVE intelligence."
How appropos for Tzvia! Her intellectual capacities are
definitely limited. For the previous half an hour, here at
her Bat Mitzva, she had graciously laid each freshly
unwrapped gift into a special bag prepared for that purpose:
a necklace with an etching of Jerusalem; earrings in the
shape of deer, lots of markers and stationery... Then Leah
entered and presented her with a beautiful cake -- pink
lettering on chocolate icing spelling out Tzvia's name with
a large "Mazel Tov." Tzvia took the cake in her hands,
admired it openly, and began putting it in the bag along
with the other gifts! Baruch Hashem, an adult saw,
quickly took it away and put it on the table with the other
Yet what Tzvia lacks in understanding, she makes up for in
honest concern and unending love. This special day of hers
became a real display of `above' with regards to manners and
finesse combined with caring. She was the epitome of
graciousness. She stood in the center of that crowd, not
only making absolutely sure that every single girl,
including the Mommies and the babies, had cake and soda, but
also taking each girl gently by the arm and signalling to
the photographer, one of the mothers, to take a picture.
Shortly after, in the middle of the gift opening, Aidel put
a tall bottle of champagne-grape juice [bubbling `cooler']
on the table in front of Tzvia. The girls standing closest
to her put their fingers in their ears as Tzvia gleefully
popped the cork out, to the applause of all.
I clapped as well, then looked around. Over EIGHTY girls had
Seeing this multitude of girls, my eyes overflowed with
emotion. There are such deep unconditional warehouses of
love buried within each one of us. With Tzvia, they're
simply not buried.
I looked around in disbelief -- I could understand why
my eyes were filled with tears, but I wasn't
expecting all the women's eyes to be tear-filled!
This night when so many had come to honor one special girl.
I felt tremendous gratitude that Tzvia is my daughter.
And still more girls were coming!
One of the newcomers came up to me with her own personal
observation: "I learn so much from Tzvia! Whenever she plays
with my little sisters, she makes sure they have
whatever they want, even if Tzvia really wanted it
herself! She's so giving!"
Another girl approached saying, "I was in such a bad mood
last week because of the worry and work for the three
upcoming tests but when I saw Tzvia's enthusiastic smile, I
immediately felt better!" I shrugged, smiling weakly. I
couldn't help but wish that Tzvia had tests to study for and
Looking around again, I was dumbfounded! The way everyone
was looking at Tzvia. What was it? She's always had social
grace but now she was like a queen. A queen holding court.
The center of so many dressed up little girls, all ages, all
sizes. She ooohed and aaaahed over every gift, big and small
alike, each gift so precious to her, even more so, each girl
is so precious to her -- girls that are kind, girls that
tease, little girls, big girls. It makes no difference to
Tzvia. Love has no age. Love has no size.
Suddenly, over the crowd of heads, Tzvia's voice sweetly
rang out, "Mommy! Mommy! First piece of cake to you." She
had begun to cut the special cake I had made for her and she
thought of me before herself.
"Did you TEACH her that?" Yanky's mother asked me, in
amazement, as the piece of cake, nestled on a blue flowered
napkin, was passed over all the heads towards me.
I shook my head `no', just as amazed as my friend was. I
received the piece of cake with feeble fingertips.
Yanky's mother paused and then said, "You know, it's as if
Tzvia were wearing a sign that says `Middos Tovos.'
I was so choked up by then that I could only nod.
Towards the end, as a touch of elegance which fit the
occasion so perfectly, Tzvia handed out single red silk
roses that I had prepared as mementos to each guest
Leah squeezed closer to me. "Maybe Tzvia was a queen in her
"Maybe," I nodded. "It just could be."
Slowly, I inched past the girls until I reached Tzvia. I
leaned over and kissed her cheek, then peered more closely
at the mirrorlike Jerusalem pendant around Tzvia's neck: an
etching squeezed full of miniature archways, domes, and
towers humbly blending and harmonizing together in perfect
unity over the mountaintops. My face was a golden reflection
within those mountains and at the moment, I honestly saw
them bowing to Hashem's will.