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As You Light Your Flames

Rayzel Reich

Listening to Baba’s story, her words penetrated deeper than any mussar speech. Because Baba is so… real. Beneath her petite frame, my grandmother is a very powerful person. Passionate. No weak, hazy, beliefs; when Baba believes something, she lives it in every breath she takes

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

 Mishpacha image

"I t’s been a long time since I’ve been here!” I said, as I kissed Baba on the cheek.I rummaged through the fridge, and we chatted about the recent bar mitzvah of Baba’s oldest great-grandchild. That segued into each grandchild and their children, with me trying to remember how many there were while pulling out gorgeous red peppers.

“So Nechamala has...” Oh no. This one I wasn’t sure about. “A whole bunch of boys, right? Three?” “Three boys and one little girl,” Baba corrected. I chopped sour pickles, then slid my plate onto the table across from Baba, who was sipping herbal tea.

“She’s very smart and resourceful,” Baba added.

“Who? The little girl?” I pictured pigtails selling chocolate cupcakes.

“Nechamala,” Baba corrected, looking over her eyeglasses as she took a sip.

“She was very unhappy with her job,” Baba explained. I realized I was clueless about what Nechamala even did. “Nechamala worked in mortgages,” Baba supplied. “She has a very good head for math. But she had to commute an hour to Yerushalayim.”

“Yikes!” My eyes widened as I bit into a juicy tomato, thinking of a miserable Nechamala on a long bus ride while her three boys and one girl waited at home. “...and her boss was not nice to her,” Baba continued in a disapproving voice.

“Ouch,” I winced, “that’s bad.”

“Yes,” Baba agreed solemnly, “it can make a person’s day miserable, and it spills over into their whole life. So I told her, Nechamala,” Baba’s voice took on that charming excited quality that makes your eyes open wide, “when you bentch lecht, it’s a very special time, and you should ask then for a good job. And she said to me, ‘But Baba, that’s such a special time. I should ask for important things, not just a job!’ ”

I could just picture Nechamala’s earnest face, her wanting to do the right thing.

“And I said, no, davka then; you have to ask the Eibeshter for whatever you need. A job is important. A person needs parnussah, needs to be happy with what they’re doing. This is a very important thing to ask the Eibeshter for!” I crunched on a Persian cucumber while Baba sipped her tea.

“So… on Sunday morning she opened up the newspaper, and right there was an ad from the municipality, looking for a frum woman to work in their business office.” I was riveted to the hushed voice. No one tells a story the way Baba does.

“So right then, Nechamala called up the number and went down for an interview... and she got the job!” Baba’s eyes, wide with dramatic flair, mirrored my own.

“No way!” I gasped. “Just like that?! The next day?! I’d think there’d be swarms of people competing for that kind of job!”

“I know!” Baba breathed. “A government job, with all the benefits... good hours so she can be home earlier for her children. A pleasant atmosphere, no traveling. And most of all, it’s work that she enjoys, and she’s so good at that sort of thing!”

“Wow!” was all I could say.

Baba’s eyes crinkled as her whole face relaxed into a smile. “So I got a call from Nechamala saying, ‘Baba, I davened when I bencht lecht Friday night, and I got the job!’”

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