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Everyone was looking at him now. The way the menahel was saying it, in that special tone of voice he used when he was trying to sound cheerful but really wasn’t, made Yoni suspect he was saying it for the second time. Maybe even the third.
Listen, it’s your first Yom Tov back home as a married lady. It’s normal to be nervous. She casts a quick glance at Menachem, who seems to have dozed off, as doubt gnaws at her.
What was it about this woman that unnerved him? Was it her pride in her job? Her unfamiliarity with the obvious? The hunger to do, to accomplish, outside of her home?
The older girl smirked. “Catch,” she said. She tossed Chaya the DVD. Chaya fumbled and blushed, but she caught it.
“Why would Hashem want me to suffer so much humiliation from being with my sister-in-law all Yom Tov? I mean, you know how small I feel next to her, Shmu—she’s an impossible act to follow!”
“Crazy! Who ever heard of a chassidishe meidel arranging things with a shadchan by herself? Her parents know nothing — she just goes ahead and meets a boy? And to a what? A moderne lawyer who wears a pink shirt, probably! You can forget it, Rikki. You — can — for — get — it!”
“I’m so happy for you that you had a boy. I’m sure you know my mother gives $10,000 to every grandson named after her father.”
At thirty he could no longer get into a kollel in America. The time for a move would be over. When he had married Tzivi, his in-laws had provided an apartment. Stuck in Yerushalayim. He felt a red shame creep up his face. You sheigetz! This is Yerushalayim.
“And I see that there’s not even a kippah on your head, Hashem yerachem, a sheigetz you’ve become, one of those shkutzim on the streets and maybe are you taking ich veis those types of cigarettes that have chemicals, those drugs…”
Once you passed a certain age, he maintained, learning was an indulgence to be reserved for the early hours of the morning, and a little more at night — before, or after, one worked up a sweat to earn one’s daily bread. How could I argue with that? He had given me all I had.