W

hen Benny and Tzipi met Sabaand Savta Rosenkrantz at the airport, they were sure the mix-up was temporary. After all, their grandparents had seen Mommy only a few hours earlier. But, as months passed and Mommy didn’t return, it got harder and harder to pretend that everything was okay.

Mommy missed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Chanukah and Purim. She wasn’t there for Moshe Neiman’s bar mitzvah or Benny’s 12th birthday. Benny feared he’d never see her again. There were nights when he was so worried he couldn’t fall asleep, tossing and turning sleeplessly. His schoolwork suffered, the rebbi scolded, and his friends whispered.

Sabaand Savta loved and cared for the children with all their hearts. Gedalya was often away, learning in kollel or lecturing at the prestigiousTadmorCulinarySchool in Herzliya. Benny learned with his grandfather, but it wasn’t the same as Tatty.

Savta noticed that Benny barely touched his supper. “Do you feel well, yingeleh?” she asked with concern. “You usually like pancakes.”

“I’m not hungry,” he replied, pushing away the plate.

“Maybe Savta should take you to the doctor for a checkup tomorrow?” Tatty suggested.

“No!” Benny shouted angrily. He jumped up from the table, escaping to his room. It was just too hard to pretend that everything was all right when it wasn’t.

Gedalya rose to follow.

“Leave him.” Saba Rosenkrantz held a hand out to stop his son-in-law. “He doesn’t mean to be chutzpahdig. I’ll talk to him later and try to help.”

Gedalya resumed his seat. “If I could only change places with Yehudit…” He squeezed his eyes closed to shut out the image of his wife in a prison cell. “They need their mother more than me.”

“No! We need both of you!” Tzipi protested. Her curls tickled Tatty when he planted a kiss on the top of her head before going to his own room.

LaterSabaknocked on Benny’s door. “May I come in?” he asked.

Benny’s freckled face was streaked with tears. “WhySaba? Why did Hashem let this happen?” he sobbed.

“Does anyone know why Hashem does what He does?” his grandfather asked. “We are so small, who can begin to understand the infinite?” He handed Benny a tissue to wipe his cheeks and blow his nose.

“I was angry when Mommy left us,” Benny admitted. “The last thing I said to her was that ‘other mothers don’t leave their children.’ She looked so hurt, but I didn’t care. Now maybe I’ll never get a chance to apologize.” He tried to blink away the tears welling up in his eyes.

Sabasat down, putting an arm around him. “Dear boy, many things happen in This World that we don’t understand, but as Jews we believe that whatever happens is what was supposed to happen.”

“How can you say that?” Benny jumped up and paced around the room. “This should never have happened!”

“Do you think that anything can happen without Hashem’s consent? We’re not in control of our lives, Benny. Hashem arranges things to take place according to the plan He designed.”