Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jumping on the Couch: A True Love Story (names and details have been changed to protect the innocent)

When David Cohen was three-years-old, fourteen-year-old Ephraim Levy from next door became his favorite babysitter. Ephraim was one of those teenagers mischievous enough for kids to like him and responsible enough for their parents to feel the same. Sometimes he even brought his little sister, Naomi, with him and she and David usually played nicely together.   

One evening Ephraim came home with a huge grin on his face.

“You won’t believe what happened,” he told his family. “David was jumping on the couch and I told him I thought that was not a good idea and do you know what he told me?”

His family shook their heads.

“That his father does it all the time!”

Being that David’s father was the rabbi of their moshav, always dressed properly in black suits and starched white shirts, it was a hard image to imagine. The Levy family burst out in laughter.

After the summer Ephraim went off to yeshiva high school and that was the end of his babysitting. David and Naomi stayed friends until they went into first grade. Then they studiously ignored each other for ten years.

It was not clear who rediscovered whom but when David and Naomi were sixteen they rekindled their friendship. Unfortunately for them, their families were not as enthusiastic about it as when they were in nursery school. In fact, they tried to separate them every way they could.

“It’s not that we don’t like David,” Mrs. Levy told her daughter. “We just don’t like his age. You are both too young for a relationship.”

Mr. Levy thought the rabbi should talk to the couple. Rabbi Cohen thought the mothers should take care of it. Everyone tried to pull them apart but nothing worked. Finally, finally the families began to realize that their children were serious about each other and gave their blessings for the two to become engaged.

On the Shabbat before the wedding the Cohens did not have to worry about finding places for the bride’s family to sleep. All the Levy’s married sons and daughters with their children squeezed into their parent’s house and walked next door to join in the Friday night meal at the Cohens. Between the singing and the words of Torah Ephraim found a chance to ask the rabbi a question.

“When I used to babysit for David he told me you always jump on the couch and I want to know, is that true?”

“Well,” the rabbi answered with a twinkle in his eye. “That sounds like a good idea. I’ll have to try it.”

At 5:30 the next morning five of the grandchildren in the Levy house woke up. All five, between the ages of four and seven, did not want to stay in bed and talk quietly. Instead, they made their giggling way downstairs to the living room and proceeded to wake up their grandparents by jumping on the couch.

“What do you think you’re doing?” their grandfather roared minutes later.

Chastened they stopped mid-jump. When he returned to the living room moments later all five sat on the couch with their hands folded in their laps and their mouths sealed.

“Would you like to hear a story?” Mr. Levy kindly asked. Silently the five nodded their heads and their grandfather kept them quiet so their grandmother could get a drop more sleep. Mrs. Levy finally dragged herself out of bed and was full of anticipation as she left her house for the synagogue that Shabbat morning. Her youngest daughter’s intended was going to be called to Torah to celebrate their upcoming marriage. At the path she met Mrs. Cohen and the two women hugged enthusiastically.

“Did you get any sleep?” Mrs. Levy asked her neighbor.

“Some,” Mrs. Cohen answered. “I’m so excited. It’s hard. How about you?”

“The grandkids woke us up at 5:30 this morning jumping on the couch. My husband yelled at them, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’”.

“Obviously they were trying to be like Rabbi Cohen.” Mrs. Cohen explained.

“I guess you’re right,” Mrs. Levy laughed as they entered the women’s section.

That Shabbat was everything the Cohen and Levi families could have wished for. And then it was the wedding day. Finally the moment David and Naomi had been waiting for arrived. Tears of happiness coursed down their faces as he covered her countenance with her veil. It was a happy, emotional chupah with most everyone knowing each other. Full of joy the couple was escorted by singing, dancing friends to the cheder yichud, the private room for just the two of them. Elated and excited they were unable to stand still. And so, when the photographer finally joined them he found the two of them, yes, he found them jumping on the couch.

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