Here Comes the Messiah
The phone calls started when I was thirteen. My mother said no, no and no. By the time I was seventeen it was calls every night, my mother carrying the cordless into her bedroom, to whisper and scribble notes.
Moshe Greenberger, she came rushing into the living room to tell me in a breathless whisper. Moshe Greenberger!
I’m not interested, I told her, looking up from my tehillim, tucking my hair off my face. I spoke respectfully of course. But thank you, Ma, for looking into it.
She raised her eyebrows, I thought she was going to say something, like, Tamar! It’s Moshe Greenberger! Do you want to think about it? Maybe we should ask a Rabbi. But she didn’t say anything, she just nodded her head. Sometimes I think she’s a little scared of me. Plenty of other girls in my class don’t get asked – they just get told: You have a date on Tuesday night with Mordche Fried on 47th street’s son. I think it’s the same with her as it is with everyone else. Even though she’s my own mother. Even though I got these giant green cat eyes from her.
I didn’t want Moshe Greenberger, even though every girl in my class would die if the Greenberger’s would even think — just a flicker in the mind! — of them. I wanted someone special. I didn’t want some billionaire’s son. I wanted gadlus. Greatness. Holiness.
You’re so serious, my best friend Miri said to me. We were sitting on my bed, leaning back against the wall with pillows cushioning our backs, our feet dangling off the mattress. We were talking shidduchim. Of course. You’re so serious about how you think about this.
I shrugged. I’m not serious, I said to her. Well, maybe I am – but more I’m rational, you know. I’m here for just a few years on this earth. My job is to serve Hashem, to be a good wife and a good mother. Money is nice, but that won’t help me succeed. I want to use what I have to land the most holy man I can.
Miri rolled her eyes at that. It’s hard for her. She’s a pretty girl, for sure. She’s been dieting since eighth grade, and she’s like a size two, probably. But the baby fat won’t leave her cheeks. And she has frizzy red hair that’s impossible to straighten. Her father’s successful, he sells office supplies. They’re a good family. She’ll get a good shidduch. No Greenberger, of course, but a good boy, a good learner, from a good home with a little money.
When my time came, it didn’t happen with a phone call. One of Reb Yidele’s students came up to my father after mincha. My father ran home – ran, my father! He held his yarmulke to his slippery scalp with one hand as he raced into the kitchen, were I was helping my mother fry the last of the chicken. A flour dusting, a thin coat of egg yolk, toss and turn in the bread crumbs and into the pan.
Gitty! Tamar! Gitty! Baruch Hashem! Baruch Hashem! he exclaimed, panting for breath.
Are you ok? My mother asked, dropping the wet chicken on the counter, hurrying to his side. He was so full of joy he could have hugged her right there, in front of me! His smile, his eyes, they shone. Baruch Hashem, he kept on repeating.
What is it? My mother asked, tell me.
Reb Yidele, my father said, opening his eyes wide and looking from my mother to me, to my mother and back to me. Reb Yidele Rabinowitz wants our Tamar.
My mother took a step back. His son? He wants? Tamar? She couldn’t even finish a sentence she was so shocked. Tears just started pouring out her eyes like a spring shower. I had the biggest craziest grin on my face. I knew it. This was what I knew would always happen for me. This was Hashem’s plan.
Four months later, four months to the very day, actually, we were married. Me, Tamar, and Aaron. Or as he was called by his family, Ar. I called him that, because now we were family. Me and this skinny, shy boy who kept to himself, the first born of Reb Yidele.
Why was I chosen out of the bagillion girls in Boro Park who would have cut off their pinky fingers for the honor of even a date with Ar Rabinowitz, Rab Yudele’s oldest son? I knew why. It was my looks. I didn’t wear heels or makeup, but even with my hair scraped back into a pony tail, my face bare, loose skirts, opaque stockings and flats, I couldn’t walk down any street without every shvartze shlepper freezing in his tracks, his mouths agape. But I didn’t care for the reason. This was where I was supposed to be. I knew it in my soul. I was supposed to be a Rabinowitz. I was put on this earth to have Rabinowitz babies of my own. My children would bear the legacy of the most important family alive.
It was a Thursday night, and Ar was learning in his study with the door closed. He didn’t like me in his study. He actually asked me to never go in there, not even to clean. After I set up the room with a table, a comfortable office chair, a big bookcase for all of his sacred books and red velvet drapes with gold tassels, I never went in there again. Some girls would think that was crazy, but those girls aren’t married to Reb Yidele’s son.
I was mixing a chocolate cake in the kitchen, humming quietly to myself, when suddenly the door to Ar’s study swung open and hit the wall with a bang. I jumped, almost tipping the bowl of batter onto my black skirt.
He stood in the open doorway, his face pale, wet lines of sweat shining on his forehead. He looked like a teenager at that moment, like a scared boy, beneath the fresh beard curling over his cheeks.
My father! he gasped. I have to go!
Is Reb Yidele ok? I asked, a hand at my heart. Should I call your mother?
Don’t do a thing, he yelled over his shoulder, and he ran out the apartment door, without even putting on his hat.
I closed the door behind him with a shaky hand and a prayer on my lips. Please Hashem, make Reb Yidele ok. I took a deep breath, and smoothed my wig with my palms, looking around. The cake. Oh yes, the cake. But something was different. The study door – it was open. Ar never left the study door open. Ever. I’m just going to close it, I thought. He’ll be upset if he knows he left it open. I reached a hand for the doorknob, but I couldn’t help but see a laptop, sitting in middle of his desk, powered on. A laptop! Hashem yerachem! A computer in our home!
I did not falter. I strode right into that room and looked at the screen of that computer sitting in middle of what was supposed to be my husband’s study, his place of Torah study.
There was an email open on the screen. I knew this, Miri had a computer in her house that her father used, and she had shown me a few times how this all worked, computers and internets and emails. There were words in the email, it was a letter, a letter Ar must have been in middle of writing.
Dear Candy, it started. Dear Candy. LOL. Very funny. I’ll meet you there on Sunday. Wear the pink one!!!!!! Or nothing!!!!!!! J Ok! – Arthur.
Arthur. Arthur? Candy?
I sat down on the couch and I waited, my heart beating so loud it filled the quiet apartment. My hands on my lap, so I looked calm. I was cold as stone. As still as a stone statue.
The door opened, finally. Oh, everything is ok, Ar said to me, kicking off his shoes, Baruch Hashem. It was just a scare. The doctor came to the house, but he’s fine, everything is fine. Don’t worry.
I just looked at him. Stayed where I was. Didn’t jump up to offer him a cup of water or anything.
Are you ok, Tamar? he asked.
Candy, I said. Who is Candy?
Do you go in my study? Ar asked me, frowning. I told you never to go into my study.
Are you kidding me? I cried, not caring how disrespectful I sounded. Who is Candy, what – what – what is this?!
Ar folded his arms. It’s nothing, he said, and he sighed. Please. It’s fine. She’s just someone I see sometimes, a goy, actually, I found her on this website, Craigslist, its only, you know, to get rid of my lust.
My jaw flopped open.
Oh please, Ar said, waving a hand at me. Don’t make a big deal. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Nothing wrong? I gasped. He shook his head.
Who do you think told me about this? Who do you think even showed me Craigslist?
Who? I whispered weakly.
My father, of course. He laughed. He even laughed. Although he likes tall redheads he said, shaking his head, I like blondes.
On the way to shul the next morning, a truck smacked into Ar and crushed him under its wheels, smearing his body across the pavement. I sat shiva with his family, and I cried, but I’ll tell you the truth, my heart was hard. I wanted to be part of Reb Yidele’s family, but I did not want some dirty goy in my husband’s life. I did not want to be married to someone who would lie to me about something like that.
She’ll marry Yoni, Reb Yidele proclaimed, after one month has passed. This is the law. It was the law. Yoni was only 17, but I was only 18. An 18 year old widow. They could have gotten so much from Yoni’s shidduch – money, or connections to some other big family. They only had three sons. Now two. But this was the law. I had to marry my dead husband’s brother. I don’t think Yoni minded. He didn’t mind not having to avert his eyes every time I was in their house. He didn’t mind being able to greedily drink me in with his stare, head to toe. I prayed that Yoni didn’t know about Craigslist yet. I put my fears aside. This was Hashem’s plan for me. I was supposed to have Rabinowitz children. This was my place, with this family.
It was a smaller wedding, but everyone was more determined. Dancing with such energy, dancing as if there was no dead spirit hovering around our manicured hands.
Yoni was different from Ar. He was starving at night. Like I was a piece of candy he was dying to have. But he did something different too.
Is everything ok? I asked, when he did this. He had such a big smile on his face, lying beside me in bed. Like he was in heaven. He nodded. Why did you do that? I asked hesitantly. He turned his head and looked at me. Silly gorgeous baby, he said, messing my hair with his fingers. I don’t want you to get pregnant. He ran his hand over my skin all the way down. Do you know how your body will change? I’ve got a supermodel for a wife, I don’t want you to turn into one of those mothers.
The same, every night he was permitted to touch me, he pulled out of me at the last minute, spewing white stuff all over my clean sheets.
Our marriage lasted six months. He didn’t wake up one morning. It was a brain aneurysm, the top specialist in the world said.
My mother-in-law couldn’t look at me during the shiva. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t feel guilty. This was my place, with this family. This was Hashem’s plan. I held fast to my faith.
We’ll give her Shloimy, Reb Yidele said wearily. He didn’t want people thinking his soul had weakened and he wouldn’t obey the law that paired me with my dead husband’s last surviving brother. Just let him grow up before the wedding. Before he kills her, he might have said, although he didn’t.
I moved back in with my parents. My hair still covered with a wig, but my ring finger bare.
This is my destiny, I know it, I know it. I cried when I prayed this to Hashem. How am I going to fulfill my destiny now? No one will marry me now! I’ll never be a wife. They won’t let me have Shloimy. I’ll never be a mother.
My mother was so worried. She called Rabbis. She even got a computer, for the basement. Maybe you can listen to some classes online, she said. Because I wasn’t leaving the house. I stayed in my room, only coming out for lunch, when she begged me. My eyes were so red, so lined with bags, I wondered if finally my beauty that had always defined me would weaken its hold.
One day, the same as the others, waking early in the dark, praying, crying, asking for an answer from Hashem, without warning, I got my answer. It just came to me in a flash of divine inspiration.
I waited until everyone left the house, then I got dressed and went downstairs to the basement. I turned on the computer sitting there on the table. It didn’t take me long to set up what I needed to set up. I’m not a stupid girl. And I was inspired.
“6 feet tall, bright red hair, beautiful woman seeks fun with distinguished older man.” This is what my advertisement said. Then I went out to get red hair dye from the drug store.
Four hours later I got the email I was waiting for. The email from YRabinowitz@hotmail.com.
I waited for him in the Motel Journeys, picking up the key from the front desk as he had instructed in his email. In the bathroom, I took off my wig and shook out my freshly dyed red hair. I was 5’ 8”, but in the gigantic plastic heels I had bought from a store in Manhattan, I hoped he wouldn’t tell the difference. My face was heavy with makeup, but I knew it wasn’t necessary. He had never looked directly into my face before. I waited, in my lingerie and heels, I waited for my father-in-law. I waited for that moment of union that would give me the Rabinowitz child I was put on this earth to have.Printable Version