Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Elul 5763 - September 25, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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











Home and Family

by Sudy Rosengarten

The children were eating supper in the hall that they used as a dinette because the kitchen was so small. Leah was diapering nine- month-old Mindy in the bedroom... The phonograph was on and Naomi was humming along in the kitchen, where she'd started cleaning up. She was so happy to have finally gotten to Israel. Now her children would grow up in the Holy Promised Land.

"Ma!" The cry was Leah's and the sound of that one syllable was so terrifying that Naomi froze and couldn't move.

"Ma!" The cry was now a screech, and Leah, white and trembling, carried Mindy, struggling to breathe, into the hall.

"Ma! The baby!" all the children cried, covering their faces not to see the horrible sight. "Ma, quick! Ma! Mindy!"

Naomi ran out of the kitchen, grabbed the child from Leah. Her mind raced wildly. Aharon wouldn't be home for another two hours. What was she supposed to do? She ran to the door, wrenched it open and screamed.

Several neighbors came running, but as soon as they saw the color of Mindy's face, they retreated.

"A doctor, a doctor!" one of them mumbled weakly, but Naomi pulled at her, begging, "Someone! Anyone! A doctor won't get here in time! Help!"

The wailing of the children reverberated in Naomi's head. It was like the clashing of cymbals, clanging as if they would never end. The child lifted a hand to Naomi with a beseeching expression. Then her eyes stopped focusing and became narrow slits.

Naomi had never been so frightened. Her child was dying in her arms and she didn't know what to do.

Suddenly, in the middle of the nightmare, she heard Moishe Chaim's voice. He was the husband of her best friend, Ruth, and they lived across the street. He was flying up the landing, taking the steps in twos and threes. His carrot- colored beard was tangled, pajamas peeked out from under a robe. Naomi vaguely recalled that the day before, Ruth had mentioned that her husband was sick and at home.

Moishe Chaim grabbed at the child in Naomi's arms, but Naomi stood stiff as a statue and wouldn't let go. How could she part with her precious baby when she already knew that nothing could help her?

Suddenly, Naomi recalled the persistent, nagging premonition that she'd had before coming to Israel; that a sacrifice would be demanded of her after realizing her life-long dream. So this was the price, Naomi concluded without feeling.

The children's cries pierced Naomi's ears, their shrieks and screams never ending. But closer and louder and more menacing than that was her neighbor, Moishe Chaim, yelling at her to give him the child, pleading with her to let go of Mindy. What? To give him her child when all life had already left her? Never! Never would she part with her child.

Naomi snarled like a mother cat protecting her newborn kittens, fought with the vengeance of having nothing to lose. No matter what Moishe Chaim did, she'd never give up her treasure!

There was a tug-of-war as the two of them sparred; Moishe Chaim desperate to release the dying child from Naomi's arms without striking her, and Naomi, scratching and kicking hysterically not to let her child go.

Ruth was running up the stairs, panting and shouting, "Naomi, what's the matter with you? A neighbor said to come right away, that something terrible has happened." She turned the landing and shouted, "Naomi. Look at me and tell me what's wrong?"

Moishe Chayim yelled to Ruth. "Make her let go of the baby, for goodness sake! Hit her. Hit her hard. I've got to get hold of that child before it's too late."

Ruth began slapping Naomi's face, and biting her fingers. She shook her and punched her and threw her down. And through it all, Naomi, smiling sadly and strangely, stood her ground. The two friends grappled and wrestled, Ruth screaming the whole time and then, suddenly, unexpectedly, Naomi opened her arms. Moishe Chaim caught the child...

Naomi stood blinking. What's all the commotion about? Why is there so much noise? Why are Ruth and Moishe Chaim so angry at me when I'm behaving so well? When I'm so perfectly in control? Why is Ruth's husband yelling to get me away from him, to stop from pulling back my baby... Don't they realize that the worst has already happened? That my baby isn't alive any more?

Moishe Chaim pushed the lifeless form over the bannister and forced his fist into its mouth. Crying and praying, pleading, beseeching, he shoved his fingers down Mindy's throat and pulled out her tongue.

Mindy began retching. Moishe Chaim kept right on, still crying and praying and holding down her tongue.

At last Mindy moaned and then she started to cry. She lifted a hand, reached out for Naomi. Her eyes were narrow slits that still couldn't focus. But she was alive.

Naomi pressed the child to her heart and whispered, "Boruch mechaye meisim -- Blessed is the One Who revives the dead."


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