Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Elul 5765 - September 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Mother's Hours

by Chaim Walder

Kovod av vo'eim is compared to kovod Hashem. To open our hearts to Hashem for teshuvoh it may be necessary to open our hearts to our parents. — Editor

Fiction with an important lesson.


"Did you see that Jew down there?" asked Yankel.

"Assuming . . . " replied Meir Bachi.

"Have you noticed that he comes to the cemetery quite often?"

"Assuming . . . "

"And not only on the yahrtzeit . . . "

"Assuming . . . "

"Can you imagine why this Jew, who looks altogether distinguished, would come to visit the same grave several times a year?"

"I can only venture a guess," said Meir Bachi, in a sentence relatively long — for him.

Meir Bachi has adopted the phrase "Assuming . . .," as his pat repartee; it is said in a singsong question that incorporates within it the unspoken connotation of "So what? What difference does it make, either way?"

Meir's fellow workers are altogether different from him. They rejoice at every morsel of conversation, which is quite understandable in the context of their quiet, somber work. But if you were to ask them for details about him, you wouldn't get an answer, because the information they know about him is even scantier than the text appearing on the tombstones of the people he has buried. From a tombstone, one can at least learn the name of the deceased, his parents, and perhaps some details about his character. But about Meir Bachi, they knew nothing at all.

Yankel didn't mention the mysterious visitor again, but even without saying anything, the scene was very carefully recorded in the lens of Meir's eyes, even though he didn't dare let on, even by a hint, that he was wasting a moment of his time to bother thinking about him.

Then, one winter day, Yankel became sick and could not come to work, and Meir Bachi finds himself attending a forsaken person who had died, lone and childless. He succeeds in rounding up some old people on the premises, who — he could never figure out why — hung around the cemetery, nor could he guess what they were looking for there.

He reaches the small burial plot with his eight old timers. The grave gapes open and he needed just one more man to actually lend a hand with the burial process. It really doesn't seem like any of his companions are up to that task.

He looks all around and who does he see if not that man whom Yankel had pointed out to him a few months before. "Reb Yid!" he calls out to him, "could you come and complete a minyan for this forsaken meis mitzvah?"

The stranger approaches, sizes up the situation and offers, "It looks like you can't really handle this all by yourself, and these . . . " he flicks a quick look at the eight old men, mummified in thickly-layered winter coats, "are likely to collapse under the task. So tell me — inside or out?"

To tell the truth, Bachi likes the man's form of address, succinct and to the point. Inside the grave or outside? To a short and pragmatic question like this, he can't even use his favorite "Assuming" phrase. And yet . . .

"Let's say inside. Will you know what to do?"

"And did you go to school to learn this?" asks the stranger.


"Well then, let's assume that I learned it exactly where you learned it. I simply watched how others did it."


The stranger removes his coat and enters the half-dug grave.

Bachi begins to respect the man. Within five minutes, the burial is completed. The stranger looks as if he had been burying people all his life.

Bachi recites the Kaddish and the funeral disperses.

"Want a lift?"

"No," says the stranger. "I haven't finished my visit by my mother."

"Assuming," says Bachi and asks himself what subjects the stranger discusses with his mother in the cemetery. To be sure, he doesn't reveal an iota of his thoughts to the man standing opposite him, for fear the latter might take it as criticism. And Bachi doesn't want to get involved with anyone he doesn't know. Sorry, with someone he does know.

In the wake of his admirable effort in the burial process, Bachi conjectures that the man who is capable of wielding a spade in such a manner is better left alone, and Bachi is loathe to endanger himself in revealing thoughts of this or another nature. Aside from that, Bachi never includes anyone in his thoughts about other people, among other reasons that those rare `others' in whom he invests any thoughts are in circumstances where they couldn't react to them in any case.

The stranger glances at his watch. "In half an hour?"

"I'll be here," says Bachi, loading the eight old timers into the van and heading for the entrance.

Twenty minutes later, he checks up on the stranger sitting by the graveside and for the first time in many, many years, an emotion by the name of `curiosity' is aroused within him.

The stranger finishes his visit and climbs into the Chevra Kadisha van. They travel in silence and Bachi doesn't dare ask him why and wherefore he spends so much time here on the different occasions which couldn't all be yahrtzeits.

They approach the entrance and Bachi finds himself commenting tactfully:

"It must be a child of yours."

"Actually, no," says the man. "It's my mother."

Bachi's curiosity waxes. Any Chevra Kadisha man can tell you that there is no comparison between the death of a parent and that of a child. The first is altogether natural and therefore, one sees children coming to visit a grave after the shiva week and again, after the thirty-day shloshim. And then again, a year later, on the yahrtzeit.

But in contrast, when a child passes away, you see the parents coming much more often. Once a month, once a week, and there are even some who come every day. That's the way the world turns . . .

This man is different. Nu, so what? "And what is a person looking for several times a year when he doesn't have a yahrtzeit?" ventures Bachi.

"Well, that's a very long story. I'm sure you don't have the time for that."

"Assuming," says Bachi, and is almost sorry he uttered that phrase that seals his fate for the coming hour.


The stranger begins his tale:

My name is Mordechai. I am no longer young. I've married off most of my children already and my story begins in my childhood.

We lived in the central part of Israel, a family of four. My father worked for his living and my mother was a housewife. Like many children of school age, I occasionally complained about a headache in the morning, when the only ache I had was knowing about a test that awaited me that day and even more — the knowledge that I might fail it.

Each time I had an attack of `headache,' my parents would wrinkle their brows in worry and immediately declare a state of sickness, which included a regimen of tea-and-lemon served in bed, hot potatoes with sour cream and lots of attention, as if I were in a life-threatening situation. Actually, all this attention stifled my plans, which included playing at home and even outside, because my mother forbade any activities outside my own bed lest I overexert myself and aggravate my condition. This state of things caused me to think several times before every declared sickness, since the price was often dearer than its alternative.

On the other hand, I never heard her express any doubt as to my illness. Perhaps because she didn't doubt it — and my mother never really checked if I had fever or not. Years later, I would wonder if I had to feel pangs of compunction from the meaning of the phrase, "But I am really sick."

All these deliberations came to an end when I was in the sixth grade. During one of these `sick' bouts, my mother said, "What a pity that you have to be sick in order to stay at home. I enjoy your company so much. I am so happy that I can talk to you without anyone disturbing us. Perhaps we can find some day when school is out early so that we can be together for a few hours without your missing out."

This wish sounded a little strange to me as a child, but to be sure, I was not one to object.

I thought about a suitable date for such a `rendezvous' and hit upon it. On Rosh Chodesh, we used to finish school early which would give me a few hours to be together with my mother.

Rosh Chodesh duly fell two weeks later. My mother gave me a snack and said that when I came home, she'd give me a proper lunch. As soon as school was over, I ran home.

My mother had prepared a nice salad and a tasty omelet. She fussed and really made me feel like a king. When I had finished eating, she said, "Now, let's sit and talk."

We sat down next to a pile of clean laundry and my mother spoke to me while she folded. Without realizing it, I began helping her. She taught me how to fold each garment and it gave me a much better feeling to be doing something worthwhile rather than just sitting and doing nothing.

Afterwards, she said, "Would you like to go shopping with me?"

We went to the grocer's together; there were no supermarkets at the time. She consulted me about what to buy and what to make for Shabbos. From there, we went to the butcher's and the fish store. I helped my mother carry the heavy baskets and then we went home to prepare supper.

We chattered about everything along the way, I — about school and friends, and she, reminiscing her childhood and youth and how she established her home with Abba. We arrived home where the rest of the children awaited us who had been sent off to Savta until 4:00 (by coincidence). And the magic dissipated. But the feeling that lingered on in my heart was very, very special.

This was the routine almost every Rosh Chodesh or on days like that when I finished early. My mother would announce in advance, "Tomorrow you're with me."

I would eagerly await those day, far in advance, and even designated them in our calendar as "my hours with Ima." And when they finally arrived, there was no lad happier than I.

The Rosh Chodesh days spent with my mother contributed more than anything else in my life. On those days, I would give release to all the pressures that had built up in the previous weeks at school, among my friends, between my brothers and even between my father and mother. I would hear stories and good advice; I would enter the world of the everyday home and feel as if I were being reckoned with and my ideas, seriously taken into consideration.


I graduated the elementary years of cheder and went off to yeshiva ketanoh. I remember myself sitting before the beginning of the zman and fearing that those marvelous hours with my mother would never return. I made peace with the situation but the very thought of it made my entry to the yeshiva all the more difficult. And indeed, those days of initiation were almost unbearable.

I didn't say a thing to my parents so as not to cause them distress, but I used to cry into my pillow at night and long for my parents, especially for the intimate hours with my mother which, I suddenly realized, had been so important to me, and which I now missed so.

Elul passed, and so did the recess of the month of Tishrei. I returned to yeshiva for the winter session. Before I left, after all the good-byes and good wishes were exchanged, I heard myself saying, "Ima . . . "

"Yes, Mordechai?"

"Oh, nothing. Be well, Ima."

I couldn't tell her that I so yearned for those Rosh Chodesh days which had given me so much because I knew that my mother would never agree to even a moment of time wasted from my Torah study. And in yeshiva, I knew, there were no half-days off on Rosh Chodesh.

But a mother's heart hears even things that are left unsaid, and Ima sought — and found — times when I could be released early from yeshiva. One Thursday, Ima called up and said to me, "Tomorrow is a Shabbos off and you are free on Friday after davening, right? I would be very happy if you could come home right away, since I need a lot of help. Is that alright with you?"

"Fine!" I said, and after I laid down the receiver, I jumped for joy, surprising my friends who knew me as a sedate, very stable young boy. It's a good thing they didn't hear the crashing sound of the stone that had just fallen from my heart, the stone of doubt which had turned to despair, and which had been rolled off. I knew now that "the magical hours with Ima" would continue.

I remember realizing even then how important those visits were to me and the unique bond I had with my wise mother who continued, in her own way, to extend her influence over me without my sensing it. Perhaps she no longer needed to mold me at that point. A young boy who goes his fine way without encountering any obstacles and who — on the contrary — is being aided and guided all along, has no reason not to proceed without problems. And so, I finished yeshiva ketanoh and began studying in a regular yeshiva.


During Elul, I waited for my mother to call me to come on some day or other, but that invitation was not forthcoming.

After Tishrei, I waited impatiently for her invitation during the months of Cheshvan and Kislev, but since I was no longer a little boy, I simply took the initiative on one regular Friday and came home early that morning. I ate breakfast with my mother and then we folded the laundry together. She didn't say a word, and we continued on that day, going to the grocer and then preparing lunch before the rest of the children came home. I took my leave and began going down the steps.

Suddenly, I heard her calling my name. I turned around.

She stood in the doorway, weeping.

"What's the matter, Ima?" I asked. She didn't answer.

When your mother is shedding tears, it makes you feel guilty. I had to remove the sense of guilt from myself. I went back up the stairs and asked her again and again what I had done. "Have I disappointed you in any way, Ima?"

She continued weeping.

"If you're concerned about my wasting time from Torah study, know that I arranged for a chavrusa at 2:00 to learn straight until Shabbos to make up for the time I spent with you."

And what did she say, then? "I know that you are diligent and dedicated, and don't waste your time. I am simply crying from emotion. I did not dare pick up the telephone to call you at the yeshiva for months and ask you to visit. I thought perhaps you felt too old and mature to come and spend a Friday morning at home with your mother. I knew that if I insinuated as much as the slightest hint, you would come, because you are a very loyal son, a good-hearted boy who has always respected his parents. But I didn't want you to come out of pity or to do me a favor. I wanted you to come because you needed it.

"You have no idea how happy you have made me by coming."

At this point, she showered me with a deluge of blessings that undoubtedly went straight up to heaven.


I reached the age of shidduchim and it was not long before I became engaged. During the period of engagement, I hesitantly told my fiancee about these monthly rendezvous with my mother. I was afraid that she would see it in a somewhat negative light, since one of the major fears of chassonim and kallahs is that their prospective mate is too attached to their mother's apron.

I must note here that a close relationship between a girl and her mother, and a young man and his mother, stands on a ratio of 10-1 in her favor. A young girl is naturally close to her mother and this actually is an advantage, lending her increased charm as a true modest, bashful Jewish daughter who does not do anything without parental permission and approbation.

In the society of chassonim, a strong bond with one's mother is liable to be chalked up against him and may even disqualify him for fear that he will not be able to be weaned from her, so to speak, and stand independently on his own feet when he establishes his own home.

I became engaged, and my `special hours with Ima' were to remain a secret for fear that they result in misinterpretation and misgivings on the part of my kallah.

I was able to keep this secret for a space of half-an-hour at the engagement celebration. It came to an end with the speech of one of the first speakers who noted the strong and rare bond between me and my mother. He even disclosed to the gathering the existence of those meetings which I had thought no one knew about.

I prepared myself for the negotiations that would ensue after the party, and the phone call from the matchmaker beginning with the words, "Look here, the other side called me and asked for some more information about . . . "


"Tell me, my friend," Mordechai turned to Bachi, "wouldn't you have had your doubts?"

Bachi turned to the right and to the left, looking for the person his seatmate had referred to as "my friend," discovering that there were only the two of them. Which meant to say that `friend' had been tagged on to him, and that, furthermore, he was being asked to state an opinion whether he would have been concerned about the bond between Mordechai and his mother, buried on the slope of that mountain, being too strong or not . . .

Had he been asked that question two hours before, the chances are that he would have shot his automatic repartee of "Assuming," which is much more insulting than a plain `yes' or `no.' It really made no difference to him whether the bond was `yes' or `no,' so long as the man kept quiet, finally.

But this time Bachi decided to assume a more sympathetic stance since the story really did touch him in several places, all in the area of the heart. And so he singsang, "Which means . . . that I might have been concerned, no? Well then, of course I would have my doubts!"

"See!" declared Mordechai somewhat triumphantly, "You would perhaps have had misgivings, but my kallah didn't have any whatsoever! And even though the shadchan did give me a call, he showed no concern about how strong my ties were to my mother but, rather, how fat his envelope would be . . . To sum it all up, she accepted this bond very matter- of- factly, without any unusual hesitation or questions at all."


We got married and it soon became clear than my wife had not been mistaken. Even though it might have appeared to her that our attachment was exaggerated and might lead to meddling, it turned out to be a very healthy relationship. My mother never mixed into our lives and if she did, it was only when we turned to her for advice and even then, she usually sided in my wife's favor.

I never spoke to her about my Friday visits.

One Thursday, several months after my marriage, my wife turned to me and said, of all things, "Mordechai, tomorrow is Friday and you don't go to kollel on Fridays. You are probably intending to visit your mother, no?"

"No, no . . . " I hurried to reply. "Surely not. Why do you ask? I have no reason to go . . . "

"I think you do have a reason," she replied. "If I am not mistaken, you used to have a habit of visiting your mother at least once a month on Friday. Why shouldn't you keep up this nice custom?"

"You're right. I did have such a custom," I admitted, "but I'm not alone any more. I am married and perhaps you should join me."

"Oh, no," she demurred. "I'm with you all the time, while your mother sees you only on rare occasions. I think it would be very nice of you if you showed her the honor of continuing that tradition of Friday morning visits."

I arrived at my mother's that Friday and she didn't say anything but I felt that she was very happy and relieved, as well. After some time, she asked me if my wife knew about the visit and if she approved.

"It was not with her approval?" My mother looked at me angrily.

"Ima, it was her idea altogether!"

She burst into tears and said that I didn't deserve such a wonderful wife. This was the best way she could compliment me.

My Friday meetings with my mother carried on. My wife gave birth to a son, another son and then two daughters. They grew up nicely. And all along, their father would travel to a nearby city once a month or so to visit his mother.

I don't think anyone made an issue of it. I just remember that when my wife told our eldest son to come home right after cheder on Rosh Chodesh, I felt a great sense of pride and joy.

Our meetings continued on throughout my life. The children grew up, went to yeshivos and eventually got married. I found myself at the age of forty-five — fifty, still making occasional Friday morning forays to my mother. I cannot put my finger on it, but at some point, our roles were switched. From a boy and youth who needed his mother, I had become a man, and the visits were now voluntary, not stemming from an emotional need.

With time, my mother was the one who needed those visits while I no longer felt the urge. Still, I kept them up for her sake, just as she had done for my sake when she knew that I had needed them much more than she.

I granted those visits in the same way that she granted them to me when I needed them more than she.

This need grew when my father passed away at the age of 67 and she was left a widow. She grew old, reaching the age of eighty, still clear of mind but lonely. This caused me to increase the frequency of my visits from every six weeks to three.


"I'm getting to the end of my story," said Mordechai. "You may see it as a sad ending but I don't think it is."


When she turned eighty, my mother began talking about death. Children generally hush their parents when they talk about this, but I didn't, because neither of us ever refused to hear the other out. I would listen to her and hear of her desire to be united once again with Abba. I would speak to her about this forthrightly, complacently. Both of us knew and agreed that she had led a good and pleasant life and that she still had what to live for. But we both knew that she still longed for Abba and sometimes felt she wished to take a rest from living.

It's alright to feel like this at eighty. One Friday — and I probably remember it because it was her last one — she thanked me for all the years we had spent together. She reminded me how fortunate we were to have lived such a happy life, and she — to have established such a fine family. She especially thanked me — and I thanked her in return — for all of our Friday rendezvous.

That evening she didn't feel well, and the young girl who slept with her called an ambulance. But before it arrived she had already returned her soul to her Maker, quietly, without fuss, without suffering. Just as she had wished.

This happened about two years ago and I would like to tell you that I don't see it as a bitter end because I was trained to realize that life eventually has to come to an end, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But even if it is not bad, I still couldn't help crying at her funeral, during the shiva and the shloshim afterwards. And today, two years later, I still feel a gaping emptiness in my heart.

Friday mornings are the hardest, because I know that I will never see her again. And so, every few months, when I am reminded of our visits, I come here, cry and am comforted.

Don't worry. It is not a weeping of pain, just of love and longing. And only now can I understand how much those quality hours contributed to me and to the lives of my children, and now, even to my grandchildren.

One of my daughters-in-law has begun this custom of "Ima hours" with an eight-year-old grandchild. It was not our idea and we don't promote it, but whoever finds that it appeals to them, does it.


"What do you say? Do you recommend this custom of Friday visits with one's mother?"

Bachi makes no reply, and this time not because of his natural apathy but precisely because that apathy has been completely shattered.

"Listen," he finally ekes out the words, partly in anger, partly in pain, "I am very much in favor of such a custom. You have no idea how much I recommend it. I am so much for it that I am sure that I would have adopted it myself with my mother, of blessed memory. To be sure, if she had only remained alive and not died when I was only five years old."

Mordechai bows his head, understanding that any remark on his part would not sound right.

Bachi began his story:

Until the age of eight I grew up without any mother whatsoever and, aside from one photograph of her, I forgot who she had been. When I was eight, my father married a younger woman who really tried to fill her place and I was prepared to let her do so, but a third factor interfered.

The third factor was my older siblings. Even though they understood that Abba had to remarry, they never agreed to accept his new wife as `Mother.'

She tried to treat us all well, but the children rejected her overtures. And so she decided to focus on me and, like in your case, she would often take me to town with her, shopping. She would buy me gifts and, for a short period, I felt pampered and special. But along came my brothers and sisters and told me that my accepting all this attention and all these favors on her part were a sign of disloyalty to my mother's memory.

I, young and naive, concluded that they were right. And from that time on, I kept my distance from this good soul who continued to exert every effort that I accept her as a mother.

As much as you enjoyed the company of your mother in your early years, in same measure did I suffer, day by day, with my stepmother because I knew that she wanted to replace my mother. I also knew that I would have been happy to be her son, had it not been for my fear of my siblings being stronger than my instinct; I did not want to do anything to show disloyalty to my real mother's memory.

Until the age of ten, I kept a studied distance from my stepmother. Then the Holocaust broke out. As soon as the Germans invaded Hungary and reached our city, this wall of resistance began to crumble — either because I needed a mother more than ever, or because my fear of the Germans overrode my fear of my brothers.

We were sent off to Auschwitz. All of us. There, Mengele yemach shemo separated us. My father and brothers were sent to one place, while my stepmother and I were sent to another.

We boarded a train for Bergen-Belsen. My `mother' spoke to me all the while and kept my spirits up. We saw horrendous scenes of men, women and children dying. Suddenly, someone came and told us aloud that we're being sent to our death. No one wanted to believe this but my mother suggested, "Let's try to jump from this train."

We elbowed our way to the window. My mother said that she would wrap me up to buffer my fall. I never thought for a moment that she meant she was going to absorb the shock herself.

At one turn of the way she embraced me tightly in her arms and threw herself out of the train. I felt a dull jolt but she received the brunt of the fall.

She fainted and the train continued on its way. She was bleeding badly. I revived her after great effort and she asked me to drag her to a sheltered spot. I did so, though I saw that it pained her very much. Nevertheless, she urged me to continue until we reached safety.

I left her among the trees in a nearby woods and ran off to forage for some food. I returned to find her shivering with cold, and revived her with a few potato peelings.

From that moment on, she did not stop talking. She showered me with compliments and heartening words; she praised me more than she had ever done before and told me how sorry she was to be the second mother I would be parting with forever, how sorry she was to be leaving me, in particular.

And once again, she began lavishing me with encouraging words of praise and compliments. I did not interrupt once, embarrassed to hear her talk thus, but strangely, enjoying every moment. It was like a lifesaving elixir for my soul. I never knew that kind words could give one such a wonderful feeling.

Meanwhile, I covered her with branches and leaves, but her condition worsened. The Angel of Death eventually drew near, and as she continued to murmur her loving words, I finally said, "Listen to me, Ima. I wish to apologize for the three years that I was your son when I hardly said a word to you. I am sure you realize that it was not my own will that made me behave that way. But now I want to let you know how sorry I am to have lost you and those beautiful words I just heard from you. Please, don't leave me. I promise you that I won't listen to what my brothers said to me. I will be your loyal son, no matter what."

My mother listened while the tears flowed down her cheeks. She wept bitterly. But suddenly, amidst her tears, she smiled and said, "I can be comforted by hearing these words in my lifetime. I am on the verge of death. I never had children of my own, and you were like my very own son, at least for these past few days. I will go before the Heavenly Throne with the knowledge that I was a mother, and I will tell your real mother what a loyal son you were and are, to her and to me."

"May you be blessed," she said to me, and I shouted, "Ima! Ima! Don't leave me. I want to be your son."

But she shut her eyes . . . forever.

For the next several hours I wept bitterly. Then I dug a grave and covered her over. I couldn't even mark it with a stone. Afterwards, I sat down and rent my jacket, which was torn in any case, and mourned over her in the same way that I mourned my own mother.

Somehow or other, I managed to survive until the end of the war. In the months following my escape, in which I hid in the forest, I buried many hundreds of Jews whose bodies lay strewn along the railroad tracks and in the forests. After that, I came to Eretz Yisroel and was placed in a refugee institution. They fed and clothed me and gave me pocket money. The one thing they couldn't provide me with was: a mother. A mother figure who would extend warmth, affection, and pleasant encouraging words.

I grew into manhood. Even before I got married, I did the one thing I knew how to do well: burying people. Something inside of me sealed off my emotions and I was no longer able to hear — or to say — words laden with emotion. This fact contributed a lot to an image formed about me among my co- workers.

To tell the truth, it's been years since I cried or laughed. The only thing I excelled in was this work which requires total severance from emotion. But all that came to an end when I saw you by the graveside and, actually, after hearing your story.

Your Friday `appointments' symbolize everything I wanted to do in my lifetime and never could. But you have given me an idea that I could implement even after death and suddenly, all of my memories rise up and overflow inside of me. I simply don't know what to do with them.


"You are lucky you were able to have such a relationship with your mother," said Bachi. "If only I could turn back the calendar of my life . . . If I could only have opened up my heart . . ." said the man to Mordechai.

For it was a handicapped person sitting beside him, emotionally handicapped. But part of that very handicap prevented him from saying what he needed to say.

"Do you . . . that is, have you any inkling where the graves of your two mothers might be?" asked Mordechai.

"I imagine, yes. My biological mother is buried in the local cemetery of my hometown in Hungary. And to tell the truth, I recall the exact spot in the forest, by the railroad tracks, where I buried my stepmother. That is, if they haven't built anything there in the course of the decades since."

"Go there," Mordechai said to him. "For your mother, you are still a son, and it is never too late for a son to go back and talk to his mother."


Mordechai got off the big van and began walking towards the bus stop, deeply roused by the story he had just heard. He wondered how he might be able to convey it to all those many orphans who find it difficult to form a relationship with their stepmothers.

He wanted to be certain that Bachi would really go to visit his mother's grave and finally open up his heart. But he didn't know how to do it without seeming as if he was meddling too much.

"Can I expect that the next time I come here, I might not find you here?" asked Mordechai.

Meir Bachi mulled over the question for a while and then, he slowly began to integrate the idea that his companion had throw out at him. He thought a bit again before answering the only reply he knew how to give,

"Assuming . . . "


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