Y ael giggled as she and Ephraim walked up the boulevard, sipping milkshakes.

“I feel like we’re dating,” she said.

Ephraim wiggled his eyebrows. “The fun is just beginning.”

It had been a total surprise when he’d told her, this first morning of bein hazmanim, to get the kids packed up and ready to be dropped off at his mother’s.

“Why?” she’d asked, startled.

He’d smiled. “I’ve planned a day for just the two of us. It’s been a long winter.”

There was no arguing with that. She was so touched that he’d made the effort to plan such a day. And it was done in perfect Ephraim style. Or was it Jeren style? First, they’d gone to a pottery painting studio, where she’d laughed her way through Ephraim’s sorry attempts at decorating his ceramic bowl. Then they’d stopped off for lunch at a local caf?. Next stop, he’d just informed her, was Manhattan, for Chelsea Piers and dinner.

She couldn’t help but giggle. It really did remind her of their dating days, when he would routinely surprise her with elaborate outings. At the time, she’d been heady at Ephraim’s interest in ordinary her — and astounded at the idea of throwing around money on one expensive activity after another without a moment’s thought. It was too insane a concept to properly wrap her mind around, but she knew with certainty that, undeserving as she was, Hashem had chosen to gift her with every blessing this world could possibly offer.

And now? As she strolled down the shopping strip, she pondered the fact that, several years older and wiser, she had come to learn that wealth was not necessarily a blessing.

“Hey, look! Rina’s Racks! Whaddaya know?” Ephraim had stopped suddenly in front of the familiar — to Yael — storefront on this posh row of boutiques.

Yael gave a little shrug, as her high spirits sank abruptly. “Yeah, I knew it was on this street.”

Ephraim gave the chic window display an appraising look. “Impressively Rina. Wanna go in and say hi?”

Not particularly. But Yael couldn’t say that, couldn’t say anything about his family without souring the day, so she sufficed with another shrug.

Ephraim took that as an enthusiastic yes.

“Hey, sis! Surprise!”

Rina was in the middle of discussing summer styles with a customer and her teenage daughter. Her mouth dropped open as she saw the two of them.

“Ephraim! My goodness, to what do I owe this honor? Hold on a sec—” She turned to the customer, “That’s my baby brother who just walked in.”

Yael saw Ephraim’s eyebrows crinkle in a fleeting frown at the “baby brother.” He turned away, staring around the lavishly decorated store. “Quite some business,” he said, and Yael could hear the jealousy in his voice. “Are all these your own designs?” He waved vaguely around the floor display.

Rina shrugged modestly. “Not all of them. But mine are being grabbed up fast, by everyone who’s anyone.”

He nodded. “Always the success,” he said, and Rina beamed.

“So, what brings you two here?” she asked.

Ephraim gave Yael a wink. “Taking advantage of bein hazmanim to spend some time together.”

“Really?” Rina exclaimed. “That sounds so… nice.”

Yael glanced up in surprise. Was it her imagination, or was it her sister-in-law who now sounded jealous? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 544 – Shavuos 2017 Special Edition)