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Dance, Daddy, Dance

S.T. Agam

Why had I ever wished you would stop dancing?

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Dance. Dance. Dance. Please, Daddy, don’t stop. Never stop. 

Dance on the surreal dance floor where energy ends and spirit begins, where willpower conquers all. 

There was a time I begged you to stop. Not out loud. I showed no disrespect. But in my heart. 

I was shy. Adoring Daddy, yet all too aware of convention. And you were… you. Energetic, quirky, and utterly oblivious to the shoulds and shouldn’ts of polite etiquette. When a sheva brachos ambience turned monotonous and the newlywed couple was in need of some laughs, who was to stop you? You leaped right up onto the table, running the length and breadth of the fancy simchah hall. You clowned around. I watched, aghast. Everyone else laughed. 

Then there was the time your dancing transcended your pain. All winter long you had lain flat on your back, suffering from mutinous discs. But Purim came and the Rebbetzin called to ask that you come and make the Tzaddik laugh. The Tzaddik, who fasted and suffered to alleviate the pain of Klal Yisrael; the Tzaddik needed Purim. “Dance for the Rav!” begged the Rebbetzin. “Please! You always make him smile!” I winced on your behalf. Not from embarrassment. Just from thinking of your back pain. You had barely managed to get out of bed. Dance?

Photo: Shutterstock

I should have known there was no way you would refuse. The Tzaddik needs to smile! And you — you would have given your life for the Rav. So you squared your shoulders, drew a deep breath, and you… danced. Slowly, at first, trying out your creaking spine, before you segued into bolder moves. Higher. Lower. Fast and faster. You made your back your slave, and you mastered your pain. As you twirled to meet the Rav with your twinkling eyes and your trademark, playful grin — the Tzaddik broke into a loving smile. You walked out of his house that day a new man. Not a whisper of your back pain ever returned. 

On Friday nights, you sang, too. You had a longstanding duet with Moshik. Moshik — the funny guy, who was fifty going on five. A simpleton who had never grown up, he had an open invitation at your Shabbos table. Lumbering into our home with his characteristic bent back, dressed in white from his yarmulke down to his sneakers, he would break out in a toothless grin as you asked him for his favorite Shabbos song. “And Moshe struck the rock… and what poured out?” “Of course. It just had to be soda.” 

He would emit a cracking belly laugh and you’d laugh along. Together, you then sang the joke again — as loud as you could possibly make it. In passing years, I’ve seen Moshik hanging around the neighborhood many a time — begging outside the central bus station, puffing on cigarettes with yellow-skinned, shaking hands. He always grins and nods hello, but he’s never as ebullient as when you made him sing.

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