22 Sivan 5779 / Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | Torah Reading: Korach
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Keeping the Show Going    

Keeping the Show Going

Ah, shidduchim! The young man came to the girl's house, but she hid under the bed. Her father liked him, but was afraid of him. The young man was afraid too; what a mess…


So yes, my son and his -ex didn't follow the script for a happy marriage. A divorce happened and it’s over now. Eli spent a week sleeping off the whole ordeal, and one morning decided the show must go on. He stood up, walked out of his parents’ house with a suitcase, and enrolled in a new yeshiva. Then he signed up with a matchmaker.


He received a photograph of a divorced woman. She was bent over in a defensive pose, grimacing like the whole marriage thing was revolting. Eli heard that she was a talented artist, though. Anyway, what is a photograph? It means nothing! So, he traveled to Bnai Brak to meet her in person.


He never got to meet her, though. He did meet her father, who sat down and spoke with Eli for three full hours. The woman never showed up; she was hiding somewhere in the house.         

The first husband, the father explained, had been an idiot. Plus, he had issues. Every night the husband hid out in the kollel until way after bedtime, leaving the roses wilting and the bride alone in their apartment with a dinner cold on the table. It wasn’t in the script; you know that.


Maybe he was afraid to see his wife grimacing. But anyway, after two months this 25-year-old woman called her father, crying and sobbing, and he said, “come home!”


Then, as we can guess, the show folded.


Eli asked the father if he had discussed the matter with the husband, and he said no. This bothered Eli. He thought of asking why not but decided it wouldn’t be polite. The bridegroom had issues? Okay, fine.


The matchmaker e-mailed Eli the next day: the father and mother had spoken for hours into the night and decided that Eli was too young for this daughter. They were afraid another girl would catch him, though, so they didn’t want to let go.  In the end, they offered Eli their younger daughter, who had never married before. But Eli knew already that the older sister and her parents had fired up the divorce, without a discussion, after only two months, and so Eli felt afraid.


Fear is a strange thing; it’s kind of contagious. I guess that’s why in the Torah the Kohen says to the Israeli soldiers, whoever is afraid, go home!


I mean, the husband was afraid to come home to his wife, and the father was afraid to discuss the matter with the husband, and the divorced wife was afraid to come out of her room to meet Eli, and then Eli was afraid to meet even the young and beautiful sister because hey is this going to happen to him too, and will he ever find out what went wrong in that marriage?       


Cherished sisters, you know already that this is not how a Torah-observant family is supposed to act. I mean, where do you read, “be strong and courageous”? It’s in the Torah!


So, why is everybody so scared?


Maybe they lost the script, and then stage fright set in.


Well, I for one know that a wedding can be scary. I too was afraid. It was my second marriage, coming in with five small children and nothing to my name. I followed this stranger, whom I had accepted on our second date, to his house in the woods where the pipes froze, and you could ice skate on the living room floor, and no neighbors lived there to speak of. I mean, a blacksmith lived next door and a redneck across the road flayed deer carcasses for a living. My husband the stranger had a big, scary dog named Ebenezer and rooms suitable for a bachelor, with old mattresses for beds on the floor, and he had to go to his job the next morning, right after the wedding.


What did Alizah do? I’ll give you three guesses:


1. Ran to her father’s house: she thought of it and realized how embarrassing it would be to do that again.


2. Called the social welfare authorities: yes, she did that, but they said hey, our pipes froze too, and we can’t do anything. Click.


3. Stay home and talk to G-d: I thought you would never guess. It turned out this was the best place in the world to speak with G-d. I had no people to talk to; we had nothing but trees and dirt. We had wind, rain, snow and ice. If the kids cried, I sat down and cried along with them. I talked to G-d about how scared and alone I was, and how would my children learn Torah? How would we get enough to eat just from digging potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes?


I should have thanked G-d for my troubles, but who knew about that before Rabbi Shalom Arush wrote The Garden of Gratitude?


I’m an actress, so I know that sometimes you can’t rely on a script. I mean, the Torah script says your husband stays home with you the whole first year, just to make you happy. People also write in the script that he buys a gold necklace and a diamond ring. That would have been my cue to say oh darling, thank you!


But the cue never came. So, what could I do?


I admit that I cried. If Rabbi Shalom Arush had been there he would have said: “You need to smile! That’s your teshuva. Happiness is emuna. When a person smiles…It shows that he knows that Hashem is the One and Only, and that Hashem is watching over him.” (Women’s Wisdom, p.341)


In fact, I just faked it the best that I could. I altered my character to fit the scene. I improvised; I winged it. More than once I skipped a beat and died of stage fright, but occasionally I stopped grimacing and smiled, and that was enough to keep the show going.



* * *

Alizah Teitelbaum's stories have appeared in Hamodia, Ami, Mishpacha, the Voice of Lakewood, The Jewish Press, and other places. She serves as fiction and poetry editor for https://sassonmag.com/ and blogs at http://alizahteitelbaum.weebly.com/blog . She lives in the Negev Desert.

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  Wonderful writing
Rivka8/21/2018 11:47:41 AM

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