Recap: Avi told his father that he chose the specialty of cardiology, and his father is happy. Later, he admits to Libby that he doesn’t want to be a doctor. He was doing it to please his father. He really wants to become a rebbe.
The night sky sparkled with stars. I could hear the swish of the ocean in the distance as we walked the six blocks to Rabbi Salesman’s home, each hoping that he would be the shaliach to help us.
“It’s so awesome to have warm weather in March,” I said. “In Maine, it would still be snowing.”
“Yeah, I always took this weather for granted when I was a kid, and I wanted snow, but I know what you mean,” he said.
I said a silent prayer. Please, Hashem, let this rabbi be our shaliach.
Avi knocked on the door of the attached townhouse. The rabbi’s wife greeted us and ushered us into the rabbi’s study. The room had that special library smell of books. The shelves were lined with s’farim. Rabbi Salesman stood and shook Avi’s hand. “Please have a seat,” he said. He was so young. I wondered if he would know what to do.
“So, I hope I can help you,” he said. “I know this is a very difficult challenge.”
I waited. Would he have the answer we needed? The rabbi was looking through a folder that held our information. It seemed like a long time until he looked up and spoke directly to my husband.
“I’ve looked at the medical records. It doesn’t look like there is any medical issue.”
Was there a s’gulah he would tell us?
The rabbi closed his eyes. Then he cleared his throat. “I believe in your case davening is the answer.”
Did he think we hadn’t davened our hearts out?
“With due respect, Rav, we have davened very hard for four years,” I heard myself say.
“Davening is the answer, and we never know when we will receive an answer to our t’filah. You have to just keep begging and pleading with Hashem.”
“Rebbetzin Kanievsky, aleha ha’shalom, used to daven three times a day with a minyan,” he said.
I didn’t know that.
“Are you suggesting that I daven three times a day?” I asked.
“I only know that davening can accomplish what nothing else can.”
I didn’t feel like he had told me anything new or helpful.
We both rose to leave. I tried to stop the tears that were blurring my eyes.
We were almost at the door when the rabbi’s voice stopped us.
“There is something also that has been shown to help speed things up,” the rabbi said.
We waited. I glimpsed a photograph of the Chafetz Chaim on the wall by the front door.
“Have you ever considered taking in a foster child? There are couples who have done this and then they were able to have their own children.”
“How would we go about that, Rabbi?” Avi asked.
“There’s a Jewish organization that, sadly, often has children who need a temporary home away from a dysfunctional or bad situation. I suggest you call Mrs. Kahn of Ozer and tell her that Rabbi Salesman sent you. Also, keep davening and I will daven for you, as well.”
“Thank you,” we both said and headed towards the door.
“What do you think?” Avi asked.
“I was hoping…” I couldn’t finish my sentence because I didn’t want to start crying.
“Me, too, but look – this foster child idea. Would you want to try it?”
“Avi, how would we support a child with you learning and me still without a full-time job?”
“You’ll get a job. I think the organization gives money towards the child’s care. Maybe we could ask for a baby.”
“Avi, I want my own baby.” I sighed. “They probably will have children with all sorts of behavior issues from dysfunctional situations. I really don’t want to have to handle that.”
Avi strode beside me. “We could ask for a baby – a newborn or a tiny infant.”
For sure it would have to be a baby, not a child with behavior issues who had been traumatized from a bad home.
“I have to think about it,” I said.
Avi went back to yeshivah, and I did laundry and wondered how I could get rid of the disappointed feeling weighing me down. I’d hoped so much that Rabbi Salesman would have an answer.
Later that night, when Avi came home from yeshivah, his eyes sparkled. “I am officially enrolled in the kollel. I told the medical school I am on leave.”
His joy was contagious.
“Mazal tov, Avi,” I said.
He started looking through the mail and then he let out a whistle of despair.
“The medical school bill! Libby, the bill for this semester is here. Dad will expect me to bring it over, and he likes to write the check in front of me and tell me how proud he is to invest in my education.”
Avi dropped the envelope on the dining room table and sank into the nearest chair. “What can I do? I have to tell him this week.”
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers 2022), A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishing 2021), Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers 2020), Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in Binah Magazine and Binyan Magazine, and “Moon Song” in Binyan (2021-2022).