Thursday, June 9, 2016


courtesy of

Startled by the loud banging at her door in Moshav Yad Naftali Yael dropped her pins. She groaned as she looked at them scattered by her feet. Gathering them up would slow her down and she needed to have the dress finished for a ten o’clock pick-up. As the banging continued she abandoned the pins. The last thing she needed was for the children to wake up. That would slow her down even more. And her husband was out at an important meeting so he wouldn’t be able to help settle them down again. She half-ran to the door and as she opened it she gasped in alarm. There stood the rabbi, the nurse, and the local social worker, an ominous gathering. With one hand she clutched her heart; with the other she tried to slam the door closed, but the rabbi had already inserted his foot.

“He’s still alive,” he said gently. “Don’t you want to see him before he goes?”

Yael cried out the cry of a wounded animal. “Who will stay with the children?”

“I’m here,” a frail voice announced and Yael turned to see her mother. But her mother had died two years earlier. At that point Yael realized she’d been dreaming and gratefully pulled herself from her sleep. A glance at the bed next to her showed her husband sleeping peacefully. With a sigh of relief she fell back asleep.

It did not take long for her to find herself in the middle of another terrifying dream. This time her house was on fire, burned to the ground with not a thing left. Thankfully she and her family were all okay. As they stood on the street in their nightclothes different neighbors took the children into their homes to sleep. She and her husband opted for their car. As she tossed and turned trying to get comfortable in the backseat she woke up.  This time it was not so easy to fall back asleep. She went to the bathroom, took a drink of water, and counted sheep.

By the time she’d counted the fifty-second lamb sleep overtook her. She found herself confined to a wheelchair. An irate client was demanding to know why her dress wasn’t finished. Her baby was crying from the crib upstairs and Yael couldn’t go to him. Wet with perspiration she awoke again.

By now she was afraid to fall back asleep. Shavuot was almost a week away and she had two bridal dresses to finish up. She tiptoed out of the bedroom and headed towards her sewing machine. As her hands slipped pins into the ivory satin material Yael tried to understand the source of such disturbing dreams. She’d only eaten a light supper so it couldn’t be from indigestion. Suddenly she remembered the conversation she’d had with Chaya the day before.

She’d been in the middle of frying vegetables when the phone rang so she tucked the receiver on her shoulder, always happy to talk to her best friend, and continued supper preparations.

“Can you give me your cheese boureka recipe?” Chaya asked.

“You’re already cooking for Shavuot?” Yael asked enviously.

“Well, with my sister and her family coming and Shabbat going straight into the holiday I decided I better get prepared.”

“Don’t remind me,” Yael sighed. “Five meals to prepare and I barely have time to make supper for tonight. What do you already have in your freezer?”

“Chicken and cut up roasts and three casseroles and a cheese cake and blintzes,” Chaya answered sheepishly.

“I only have cinnamon rolls,” Yael answered dolefully and gave her vegetables a quick stir. “And I’m behind on my sewing.”

“I’m sorry,” Chaya was sympathetic.

“Yeah, well,” Yael sighed, “it will all come together. It always does. But you know what,” she hesitated.


“I spoke to Shira today. You know she and the girls always come to us for at least one meal on the holidays.”

“Uh-hum,” Chaya answered. “They’re coming to us Friday night. She said she’d bring a spice cake.”

Shira was their neighbor whose life had been far from easy. Several years earlier she’d finally left her abusive husband, but he still refused to give her a divorce. Shira put her efforts into keeping him away from their twin daughters, one of whom was wheelchair bound. In spite of it all, Shira remained optimistic, full of faith that her problems would work out.

“Right,” Yael agreed. “She’s bringing a spice cake to me too. But..”

“You don’t like spice cake,” Chaya interrupted.

“True but I didn’t tell her that. But do you know what she told me this morning?”


 “She told me,” Yael moved from the stove and began sorting laundry. “that she wished she hadn’t committed cakes to anybody because she’s feeling overwhelmed. She’s feeling overwhelmed with five spice cakes. How does she think I feel with five full meals to prepare and two wedding dresses to finish besides everything else?”

“I know,” Chaya was still being understanding. “But you and I are overwhelmed physically. She’s overwhelmed emotionally. You and I will be working hard to make meals to serve on OUR tables in OUR homes with OUR husbands making Kiddush.”

“Oh, no!” Yael shrieked dropping her son’s dirty pajamas and running back to the stove.

“What’s wrong?”

“The vegetables are burning!” She grabbed the frying pan and gasped as she almost caught her sleeve on fire.

“Are you okay?” Chaya cried out.

“Yeah,” Yael let her breath out slowly. “I can’t say the same about supper.”

“I have a big pot of vegetable soup. Come take half.”

“Thanks,” Yael managed a smile. “I can put up some eggs and toast in the same time it would take to come get the soup.”

“You’re sure?’

“Sure, but thanks anyway,” Yael repeated.

As she’d ended the conversation she’d ignored the reproach of her friend’s earlier words but now, at five-twenty in the morning, she could no longer disregard them. It was too early to call anyone, but not too early to ask HaShem to forgive her for her selfish thoughts. And to thank Him for all the blessings He’d given her.

 In a few hours she’d call Chaya and ask her to wipe their conversation from yesterday out of her mind.  Then she’d call Shira. She’d tell her that she had the meals all under control and didn’t need any more cake. Yael would make sure Shira understood that what they needed was Shira and the girls’ company. Shira should know that they were very special guests and Yael couldn’t imagine having a holiday without them. That done, Yael was certain, she’d be finished with her guilty dreams.   

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