"M eir’ke! What are you doing here?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

The sandy Jerusalem plaza was noisy and crowded. Neighborhood residents huddled around the various stands offering boxes of matzos, wine, and dry goods for Yom Tov, all sponsored by generous souls. People heaved boxes into rickety strollers or makeshift trolleys before trundling their essentials off in quick relief. Lines were long. The waiting was awkward. It wasn’t just the Jerusalem sun that caused many to shvitz beneath their collars.

“Of course I worry about it!” Shmulik said, glaring at Meir’ke. Though in his thirties, a family man, and a respected resident of the neighborhood, Meir’ke would forever be Shmulik’s curly-headed baby brother.

“It’s nothing. Nothing! Just go!” Meir’ke insisted, brushing Shmulik’s hand off his sleeve.

Never one to argue, Shmulik turned and entered the building of the neighborhood rav — their dearly respected elder brother. Shmulik flew up three flights of stairs and knocked determinedly.

“Reb Rephael — the truth! Did you know things were so bad for Meir’ke?”

“What are you talking about?” Reb Rephael’s forehead creased as he looked up from his sefer, his finger keeping watch on the page.

“Meir’ke is standing in line down there…” An emphatic tilt of Shmulik’s head toward the window spoke volumes. “Since when do we take kimcha d’Pischa? We don’t take charity! You can’t let him stand there!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Look!”

Together, they stepped onto the Rav’s small balcony. But from three stories up, it was hard to make out one lone man in the crowd. Shmulik planted a hand firmly on his brother’s shoulder. “Reb Rephael! We’ll organize something. Don’t let him stand there! Do something!”

The Rav shook his head again.

“I don’t know. I imagine he would have told me if he was in that kind of trouble.…”

“Should I call our sisters? Maybe they know something?”

“Call Meir’ke up here.”

Outside, scanning the bustling crowd, Shmulik couldn’t spot his brother anywhere. But a shift in the line soon revealed the back of Meir’ke’s curly head, heading away from him, down the hill. Shmulik ran after him. The box was heavy on Meir’ke’s shoulder. It was easy to catch up.

“Reb Rephael wants to talk to you.”

“Leave me alone!” was his brother’s uncharacteristic reply.

“Come on! Meir’ke! What’s got into you? If you need help for Yom Tov, just say the word! We’ll all help out!”

“I said, leave me alone!” Giving Shmulik a determined shove with his elbow, Meir’ke continued down the hill with the box, without even a glance back.

Shmulik sat in Meir’ke’s dining room. The room was jam-packed with Meir’ke’s friends. Only Meir’ke wasn’t there. He had gone to meet Reb Rephael, who had left This World three years before. Perhaps now those two brothers would get to talk. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 654)