Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Real Heroes

This year I actually went to hear a Shabbos Shuva drosha. The z’chus, merit, goes to my husband, for prodding me, but my own z’chus lies in the fact that I managed to stay awake. No offense or disrespect to the Rabbi, who is an excellent speaker with a lot of substance, but all that sitting still, after a good Shabbos meal – you know what I am talking about.

What the Rabbi was talking about, was a Midrash (cited as such both by the Maharal in Netivos Olam, and by HaKosev in his commentary on Ayin Yaakov; both of whom also profess to having been unable to trace it), where three Rabbis are having a debate about quite an interesting topic: Which pasuk, which singular verse, in the Chumash could be said, beyond all others, to encapsulate the entire message of the Torah.

Ben Zoma says: “Sh’ma Yisrael, Hashem Elokenu, Hashem echad!” (Hear Israel, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is one. Devarim 6:4). Often referred to as the Jewish “declaration of faith”, this suggestion would make sense to most of us – what could be more fundamental than our relationship to G-d?

Nanas says that it is: “V’ahavta lere’acha kamocha” (And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Vayikra 19:18) Again, this pivotal pasuk brings us a message of love and charity that has brought ethics and conscience to all of the civilized world – certainly this is a paramount digest of the entire Torah!

However, Shimon ben Pazi brings up a pasuk that is much less known, at least among the general public: “Et-hakeves echad ta’aseh vaboker, v’et hakeves hasheni ta’aseh bein ha’arbayim” (The one lamb shall you offer in the morning; and the other lamb shall you offer at evening. Bamidbar 28:4) And the text of the Midrash - somewhat surprisingly - concludes that, basically, the Academy Award goes to Shimon ben Pazi.

The reason is that what makes Jews survive as Jews is the daily, constant, unremitting performance of mitzvos – morning and evening, rain or shine, inspired or uninspired. Ultimately, this is what will pass the Torah on to the next generation – not lofty theology; nor ethical societies, however noble. Sadly, very few Reform or Conservative Jews manage to convincingly pass on to their heirs any real commitment to remaining Jewish on any level – and they are the ones who most proudly reiterate the Jewish tenets of faith and ethics.

During one of our journeys to Eretz Yisrael, a number of years ago, my husband and I went on a Hoffman tour of the holy places in the north. It came time for mincha, and a few more men were needed for a minyan. The search began, while the mincha time window was rapidly closing. In the nick of time some men were found – young Sefardi workers, in their worker’s gear, a few tzitzis here and there; they put a “Be Back Soon” sign on their shop doors, and came running to join the quorum. One or two had already prayed the afternoon service, but – look, mincha must be attended to, a minyan is needed, a Jew has to help.

Once we were back on the bus again, my husband turned to me and said, “those young workers are the real, live heroes!”. And he has been saying so ever since. The real heroes are the ones who quietly, faithfully, unpretentiously, unremittingly go on doing mitzvos, and go on helping their neighbor do mitzvos; keeping the wheels turning, upholding the Kingdom of Heaven through a myriad of small actions and punctilious observances. You may be a simple laborer, with or without education, but you know what needs to be done – so you do it. Doesn’t matter if you “feel” it, if you are in the mood – you just keep doing it, putting one foot in front of the other, “one sheep in the morning, and the other sheep in the evening”.

These everyday heroes above were male, and indeed many are, but I can’t help feeling that this type of simple, dogged, persevering avodas Hashem, Divine service, is a particular domain of women. It is so often the women who pay attention to the little things, who have that extra measure of patience – and stubbornness – that enables one to “soldier on” with mitzvos on a daily, regular, unassuming basis, without looking for recognition or reward. Mothers, particularly, come to mind…

In his Shabbos Shuva drosha, the Rabbi also recounted an anecdote from the aftermath of the Holocaust, which we have heard many times before, but which never fails to move me deeply. A Rabbi is traveling through war-ravaged Europe, searching for orphaned Jewish children who have been hidden and rescued to physical survival by non-Jews, in order to now rescue them back to spiritual life. In a certain convent, the staff is unwilling to admit the Rabbi, since they want to keep charge of the little souls who are unaware of their Jewish identity, by now have been baptized, and are being raised as Christians. In spite of their insistence that no Jewish children have ever been sheltered there, the Rabbi cajoles the priest into giving him two minutes to take a quick look. The request is granted – after all, what can you achieve in two minutes? The Rabbi steps into the crowded dormitory and says in a loud voice: “Sh’ma Yisroel, Hashem Elokenu, Hashem echad!” Immediately, numerous little voices respond from around the room: “Boruch shem k’vod Malchuso l’olam va’ed!” (In another, similar situation, small children responded by automatically, reflexively, covering their eyes, according to the established practice of doing so when reciting the Sh’ma.)

Surely the mothers of these little ones, who, night after night, had put their children to bed with the Sh’ma on their lips weren’t always so inspired; surely the fatigue of mounds of laundry and potatoes to be peeled and floors to be scrubbed, must have tempted them occasionally to forgo the evening prayers with their children, but they kept doing it nonetheless, faithfully, unremittingly, because this is what the Torah tells us – “one sheep in the morning and the other sheep in the evening”. These were the real heroines! And this practice was what succeeded in transmitting the Torah to these little boys and girls, thereby safeguarding their spiritual future. Nothing else – no theology or ethics in the world – could have achieved the same triumphant result.

Not a day of my life goes by that I do not brood about the many mistakes I made as a young mother, trying to raise my children. Obviously, like most mothers, I tried to do the best I could with what I had, but what I had was so inadequate. Among my many mistakes was not to put my children to bed with the Sh’ma on their lips and mine. Had I realized the importance of it – had I been familiar then with the above anecdote – I would have. I don’t mean this in a simplistic way – because I know so well that G-d is no Santa Claus, and we are not rewarded as an automatic consequence of having “pushed the right button” – but I can’t help wondering: if I had, would their lives have looked different today?

As we were walking home from the Shabbos Shuva drosha, my husband turned to me and asked, “Who are the real heroes?”. I have been coached well over the years, so I knew what to answer: “the Sefardi workers at mincha time in Tz’fat!”

Shalom Uv'racha!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dwelling in the Sukkah

Once again, we are approaching the Time of Our Joy – Sukkos, my favorite time of the year. There is much to prepare, and in our marriage we have worked out a division of labor – it is only fair, right? Everyone has to contribute. What we do is this: I build the sukkah; my husband stays out of the way. 

(There seems to exist a home movie of my husband from the late fifties, when he was a toddler barely in his third year, sitting in his crib and happily minding his own business. Apparently, his father stuck a screwdriver in his son's hand and started the camera. In two minutes flat, toddler-boy found all the screws and took his whole crib apart, laughing maniacally as it fell asunder about him. Demolition - he's your man. Construction? Not so much.)

My husband is very proud of how he has perfected his skills over the years – he will be the first to tell you that he is now able to stay out of the way b’hiddur – a mitzvah beautified! Sometimes though, the stress of it all gets to him, and he might want to come home and relax, and then I may have to tell him, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but there’s still some more way to be stayed out of!” And he soldiers on, heroically.

Personally, I couldn’t stay away if you paid me. I love building the sukkah; I love decorating it and beautifying it; I love dwelling in it. I feel like I am creating this little holy place in the universe for G-d to come and live in, with us; I get to play house with Hashem. He is the Daddy. And nowhere else – except by the Kotel – do I feel as close to Him as I do in the sukkah.

For many years now, I have taken upon myself not to eat bread or grain products, or to drink wine (which I do a lot), outside the sukkah, and, weather permitting, I usually try to sleep in the sukkah at least a couple of nights. My husband is fragile; he sleeps indoors. As a woman I am not obligated to keep any of these observances, which are time-bound and therefore incumbent only on men. Women are exempt from mitzvos aseh shehaz’man gramma, “positive” time-bound mitzvos, and that is the commonly cited reason why women are not obligated to dwell in the sukkah.

If you ask me, I don't think that is the whole story – there are many other holiday observances that are even more strictly time-bound than sukkah, such as fasting on Yom Kippur, hearing the Megillah, drinking four cups of wine and eating matzo during the Seder, Maggid - the retelling of the Exodus, kindling Chanukah lights, and others (not to mention Kiddush every Shabbos), that are nonetheless equally incumbent on women; and don't forget that it is universally accepted that women have taken upon themselves to take the Arba Minim, the Four Species - and Ashkenazi women make a brocho on them. There has to be some further factor involved here. 

I bellieve it has to do with the fact that the sukkah is external, outdoors, outside the tent, if you will, and therefore bordering on the public sphere. Not that a Jewish woman is prohibited from entering the public sphere, but the Torah always exempts her from any necessity of doing so. In some places it actually was a public sphere – where it may have been necessary for several families to share a sukkah, or if the only one available was the Community sukkah; and in such cases it would not be proper for a woman to mingle with men from outside her own household – or for those men to mingle with her. (Of course, the perfect solution would be to build a separate women's sukkah. In pink.) Additionally, a mother needs to be where her children are (which is why she is exempt from time-bound mitzvos in the first place), and even though babies are certainly brought out to experience the sukkah, I don’t think it has ever been suggested that all the cribs should be moved out for the duration. (Furthermore, some of the activities involved in child care, such as changing dirty diapers, may not even be permissible in the sukkah.) Consequently, she is not obligated. 

Then again, you might not bother to ask me.

So I do these things fully aware that there may be no s’char, Heavenly reward, in store for the whole venture; we are rewarded for fulfilling our obligations, not for doing things – even praiseworthy things – according to our own desires. (Except for the actual building of the sukkah, of course, by which I enable my husband to fulfill his obligation to dwell therein.) But who knows – maybe there could be just an itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy, little baby s’char? If not, there is always the reward that lies inside the sukkah right now.*

Being that I am very interested in interior decorating, I have to tell you a little bit about what it looks like. Our balcony allows only for a 6'x9' edifice, and it is a canvas sukkah - a support structure of metal tubing, covered all around with canvas walls. My walls, however, are not made from canvas, but from a floral upholstery fabric, which I lugged home in my younger, more vigorous days, and sewed together, yard after yard, with Velcro flaps to hold it in place. The fabric is very sturdy, and holds up beautifully both in rain and shine.

I wanted my sukkah to be decorated with elements from nature, but at the same time I was not interested in the seasonal fall colors, which might have been an obvious choice. It took a bit of searching, but a finally found this material - green, covered all over with pink roses and other florals. Thus, the sukkah is already its own decoration – but it doesn’t stop there…
The western wall, by the entrance - last year's look
A view towards the east, with a draped seat of honor for my husband

The table is set and waiting for the Ushpizin
Oh yes, a person like me can have a lot of fun with this Yom Tov! I hope you will too - Chag Sameach!

Shalom Uv'racha!

PS: If you enjoyed this post you might want to explore my companion blog Rosebud's Castle, where I write about things like interior decorating, party planning, and the occasional recipe...

*PPS: Since I wrote this post I have been delighted to discover from a reliable halachic source that if a woman does dwell in the Sukkah it is actually counted in her favor, as if she had performed a bona fide Divine commandment - in Frumspeak parlance, "she gets a mitzvah" - and she does receive s'char, Heavenly reward, for what she has done. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I finally did it – yesterday I went to see a hypnotist.

Like so many women, I have had varying difficulties maintaining my desired weight over the years; there was one period, about twenty years ago, when I was even seriously overweight. I managed to overcome that, and it never got that bad again, thank G-d. A little thyroid problem kept me skinny for several years, but when that was cured (I fought them tooth and nail, but the doctors insisted), so was the skinniness. Typical.

So the pounds would sneak up on me every now and then – come off for a while, and slowly but surely return. Three years ago, I came to a point of near despair, when I was feeling much too heavy and yet, somehow, powerless to do anything about it. Hashem guided me to a book called, “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna, a world-famous hypnotist who began his career as an entertainer, but now has veered almost totally (?) into the therapeutic field. “You can?”, I thought to myself, “well, do it then, buddy, because I sure as helicopter can’t!” And he did.

The book contains a few simple, sensible rules for eating, but the accompanying CD is what does the trick. Most of us know how, or what, to eat – it is the desire and will-power to keep doing so that is lacking. The CD, which one listens to once a day, is what provides that missing link between theory and implementation. In short, Mr. McKenna hypnotizes you and your body into doing the right thing. Thirty-five pounds melted away over six months without the slightest deprivation or difficulty. At 5’8” tall I was a size 10; life was a happy operetta, and heavenly choirs were doing their thing.

But it gets tiresome to listen to any CD, however excellent, every single day of your entire lifetime, and this summer I realized, to my unmitigated horror, that about half of that lost weight was back on again. Insidiously, the pounds had crept up on me, behind my back, one by one, probably under the cover of darkness. Enough already.

The hypnotist (Jewish, not religious) came well recommended, with many certificates and awards to his name. I figured that what Mr. McKenna could do with a generic, sue-proof CD, this magician should be able to accomplish in a more targeted, “once-and-for-all” manner. The hypnotist himself was very confident. He’s the guy.

For reasons of yichud regulations (the laws that prohibit a man and a woman from being alone together), plus a general queasiness at the thought of visiting a hypnotist in his lair and placing myself under his influence without an ally at my side, I asked my Trusty Friend to accompany me. (Yes, I know – strictly speaking, one female chaperone is insufficient to nullify the yichud situation, but we also left the front door open. What do you want from my life?!) When I called my TF I said that I had a request of her that was a little bit unusual, and that I would understand if she balked. Then I explained what I needed. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world!” was her eager reply.

To make a long story only marginally shorter, the hypnotist turned out to be one chatty chap, certainly not queasiness-provoking, and he finally got down to business. First there was The Test, to determine if I was a receptive subject. At his prompting, one arm was supposed to become heavy and sink down; the other to float up in the air. I failed miserably – nothing moved either way – but he comforted me and said we could still achieve excellent results.
  • You are very highly motivated to become slimmer – much, much slimmer
  • You will get full after only a very small amount of food
  • The less you eat, the happier you will be
  • Junk food and sugar will make you very, very nauseous
  • You have a very strong will-power, and a tremendous amount of self-control       
These were some of the main messages that were transmitted to my subconscious personality, against a background of new-age music which I assume was there to drown out any other distracting noises. I was also informed that henceforth, I would remove the skin from all poultry. Good stuff, all of it, but I was waiting in vain for that “altered state of consciousness” that you hear so much about. I didn’t think I was going to get all in a trance and start to levitate, but I had also not expected to feel as normal as if I had been sitting in a staff meeting.

It was over almost before it had begun – I don’t think it could have been more than fifteen minutes – and then the chatting took over again. By now TF was rolling her eyes at me. The hypnotist said that one, or possibly two, more sessions should fix what needed fixing, and that I should give him a call in a week. As TF and I got in the car again, I think we both had a sense of anti-climax. "Who is he to tell you to take the skin off the poultry?", she asked, with a bit of an edge in her voice. Then again, I have never experienced live hypnosis before, and my expectations may have been unrealistic. We shall see what happens – and I will surely keep you posted.

I am sorry to say that I had some chocolate today, and it didn’t make me nauseous. I felt great! But maybe I will lose – and keep off – those pounds anyway, because I have a tremendous amount of self-control.

Shalom Uv’racha!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering Bubbie

One day in the early 1990’s there was an ad in the newspaper, under Furnished Apartments. “No rent for the right person”, it said. To me, newly arrived from Europe, in need of a home, it sounded like the answer to my prayers. And so it was – to an extent I could never have dreamed of. Within a few days I was accepted and installed as a companion to a certain elderly Rebbetzin – Bubbie, as I was told to call her. Thus began a transforming period of my life; living with Bubbie in what was almost a small commune of family and caregivers. It wasn’t always an easy existence, but it was one filled with meaning, interest and emotion; lots of laughter – and some tears. What I gained in the process was infinitely more than a home; I met a woman whom I could truly take as a role model.

Of course, I never had the privilege of knowing Bubbie in her days of strength. When I came to her, the decline had already begun. Even so, I would often catch a glimpse of what she had once been – an expressive look, an astute comment, a vivid sense of humor, would reveal her true personality. Even when overpowered by illness, she still carried herself with the dignity of a great lady. And she was not one to let herself be held back by a bit of old age – her indomitable spirit, restless energy and iron willpower kept her going long after we younger people had collapsed from fatigue.

When I first moved in with Bubbie I thought of it as a part-time job, a temporary arrangement, suitable for the time being – I would stay as long as I needed to. But gradually, as I got to know Bubbie, things began to change – or rather, I began to change. The very process of taking care of a person for a long time creates love and attachment; living closely together forges a bond. As my knick-knacks became intermingled with her furniture, Bubbie’s house became “our” home, and as her helplessness increased, so did my tenderness for her. What had started as a job turned into a life, and I began to think, “I shall stay as long as I am needed”.

Bubbie’s most remarkable trait may have been her extraordinary ability to evoke respect and affection in everyone who came into contact with her. As the years passed, I came to love her deeply. My youngest son, who lived with us periodically, and who became a care assistant in his own right, also became very devoted to her, and now says, whenever Bubbie’s name is mentioned, “She was so sweet – I miss her very, very much!”

So, there we were, settling down to our life together. In the day I would go to school or work, while a home attendant stayed with Bubbie; evenings and nights were my responsibility. The overall responsibility though, was assumed by her youngest son, our next door neighbor, who was in charge of the whole operation, and who would visit several times every day to make sure that everything was in order. I learned something very important from witnessing this act of kibud em, which was carried out with great love. I learned from the interaction between them, and from seeing him perform the most menial tasks for his mother with unfaltering respect, humility and dignity.

When Bubbie and I were together in the evenings we would often sit and chat, and she would tell me stories about her childhood and youth, about schooldays, work and shopping, about her beloved little sister, and about her adored and revered father, the great Rabbi. We would sit by her old dining room table and she would discuss whatever was at hand – the fleishige dishes in the “shuffe”, or the rose painting that a grateful woman artist had given her. Once she was watching while I was sewing trimmings onto a hat. Deeply interested, commenting on every detail, eyes positively shining, she suddenly asked, “Do you have a boy-friend?” “No, Bubbie, I don’t”, I replied. With great conviction she said to me, “This will get you some!” (But it took a while…)

Erev Shabbos was always special in our house – even beyond the normal degree of anticipation. Even though Bubbie was no longer bothered with clock or calendar, it was as if she felt in her bones that Shabbos was approaching. Licht bentchen was the great event of the week, and she worried constantly, lest she forget to light on time, and whether, once performed, it had really been properly done. When everything was finally to her satisfaction, we would sit in the living room and wait “for the men to come from shul”. That in itself was quite an event, and there would be much impatience until, eventually, the men – son and grandsons – would show up and bring her next door for Kiddush. Then her happiness would be complete! Licht bentchen was such an ingrained part of her personality, that even though illness had cruelly robbed her of so many perceptions, it could not touch her holiest mitzvah. I was told that one of the home attendants, a non-observant Jewish woman who had worked for Bubbie some time before I came, had been so impressed that she had begun to light Shabbos candles herself. She said, “If this is what lighting candles means to her, then I want that for myself too”.

As Bubbie’s horizons shrank, her concern with her immediate material surroundings expanded. Candlesticks and tablecloths in particular, were intensely cherished and valued symbols of her one-time glorious reign over a prestigious household. Therefore, when suddenly one day during our last year together, she said to me, “I’m leaving you my tablecloths”, this was probably the greatest honor that had ever befallen me. Those tablecloths are now among my most precious possessions. But, make no mistake; Bubbie’s reign was not entirely over – she still ruled like the queen mother. She had very pronounced opinions, and if she thought anyone of us behaved unsatisfactorily, she didn’t mind letting us know.

We grew very close over the years, Bubbie and I. She never knew my name, but I was one of the people she recognized; she once referred to me as an “old-timer”. The last time she spoke to me will always stand out in my memory. One evening, about six weeks before that final morning, I came into her room where she was lying in bed, seemingly asleep. Suddenly, without opening her eyes, she said, “Come here, darling!” I didn’t know whom she was seeing, but I went up to her and kissed her. She looked up at me, took my face between her hands, kissed me and said, “I love you”. She had told me so many times before, but somehow, this time, I was more than usually moved. “I love you very much” I answered. She nodded, laughing gently, “I know”, she said, “I know”. In that moment I had a strong impression that I was connecting, not with a clouded mind, but with a very clear neshamah. She closed her eyes again and said, “you can go now” and drifted off to sleep again. It was as if everything was settled between us, as if she had given me her blessing. What I felt she was saying to me was, “I know you did your best – you can go in peace”. I cried as I left her room, and even now, fifteen years later, I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this.

As I said, Bubbie was, and still is, my role model. Her courage, integrity and strength of character, her intelligence and humor, her devotion to good deeds, her uncompromising Yiddishkeit – all that she stood for, I should like, some day, to stand for also. Those four years that I lived with Bubbie, learning directly and indirectly from her and from her son, have changed me forever.

It was the greatest good fortune of my life when I found that ad.

Posted in honor of the 15th Yahrzeit of Leah bas Yosef on this 8th day of Tishrei – may she be a Meilitza Yosheres for all of K’lal Yisroel! (In fact, I’m sure she is – she wouldn’t stand for any nonsense!)

Shalom Uv'racha!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Seltzer Patrol

Last week, Motzo’ei Shabbos (Saturday night, after the end of Shabbos), my husband forced me out on a Seltzer Patrol. There had been a rumor in shul that morning that the generic Shoprite seltzer no longer carried the OU kosher symbol. (No, no – take it easy! The rumor was false; the symbol is there.) We had started worrying. No hechsher symbol? Why not? Is it politico-financial, or only political? Anti-Semitism, of course. Is it one of the many, tiny, almost imperceptible signs that the “Jewish honeymoon” in this country is approaching its end? We were perturbed. The matter must be investigated.

The moment havdoloh was over, I was ordered into the car.
“We must check it out!”
Yes, but what are we going to do?
“We are going to keep watch, in case a Jew tries to buy seltzer.”
Nice. For how long?
“For as long as it takes.”                              
Surely we can’t stay all night? (Trembling voice.)
“We’ll find another Jew to take over the watch for an hour – then he can pass the torch to the next Jew. Like a relay! Signs must be posted.”

My husband sees it as his duty to supervise most of the kashrus issues in this world. He will happily accost people in airports and inform them that the candy they just bought with their last pennies might not be kosher after all. In the beginning of our marriage I, with my European nerves, used to cringe at this molesting of perfect strangers, but gradually I came to realize that maybe the strangers weren’t so perfect, and that my husband was the one with the mida of tzidkus – the trait of righteousness. Embarrassment should not stand in one's way, if one is called upon to safeguard the precepts of the Torah. (Greed, temptation – possibly, but not embarrassment.)

Having worked in the kosher business for several decades, he likes to frighten housewives with horror stories from weddings and other fine, fleishig events that he has come across in the line of duty; near-disasters that he caught in time:    
  •         The cheerful kitchen workers who proudly spruced up the desserts with some swirls of chocolate syrup, and confidently announced “that’s the one we always use”. Really? What a shame it’s milchig!
  •         The caterer who, displeased with the paltry display of the hors d’oeuvres as they passed him by, grabbed a few handfuls of shredded cheese that he quickly sprinkled over the trays, and then stood back to admire his handiwork: “There – that looks much better!”
  •           Or - from the annals of a colleague - the wedding where they ran out of ice cream, sent out a non-Jewish kitchen worker to buy some more, and he came back with a dairy brand. It wasn’t detected until a woman with the radar of a severe milk allergy broke through the mechitza, screaming frantically to her husband: “Chaim, Chaim, spit it out – it’s milchig!” One can only imagine the havoc that ensued. 
We pulled up in front of Shoprite, where the post-Shabbos shopping frenzy was only in its early stages. We practically ran to the seltzer department. My husband - who likes nothing as much as a bit of drama - cavorted about, grabbing bottles left and right, declaring it to be a difficult case. I on the other hand, again with the European nerves, was able to calmly and competently establish that the OU symbol was in place. Maybe not quite as big as it could have been, and maybe not placed in the most conspicuous location on the label, but definitely there. Definitely. Somebody in shul needed new glasses. And we knew who. He must be enlightened – immediately.

“We are the Seltzer Patrol”, we yelled, as we barged into his parlor, where the Rabbi in question was enjoying a quiet interlude with his Rebbetzin. It took them a moment to recover, but naturally they were delighted with the findings of the Patrol. They couldn't be more pleased. The flavored seltzer as well? Fancy that! They congratulated us warmly on our vigilance, and wished us much success in our future endeavors. (But now that I think about it, they never asked us to sit down…)

Some days later, I had cause to call their household in another matter. The Rabbi picked up the phone and we exchanged a few brief pleasantries before his wife took over. “Keep up the Seltzer Patrol!”, he roared as the phone was snatched from his hand.

Shalom Uv'racha!
Shulamit - who wishes all her readers a Kesivah V'chasimah Tovah!
See you next year!