S hortly after my father-in-law passed away at the relatively young age of 52, my mother-in-law had a dream in which he came to her leading two blue-eyed young boys and placed them on the rug beside her. “These two children will be gedolei Yisrael,” he told her.

Within the next year, I gave birth to a boy, and so did my sister-in-law. Her son’s eyes were brown. My son’s eyes were blue — which was mighty strange, since both my husband and I hail from purebred Sephardic families.

“These will be my two gedolei Yisrael,” my mother-in-law said happily. Although she and my father-in-law were not fully observant, she still identified strongly with Jewish tradition and possessed deep reverence for rabbanim and gedolim, as is typical of even nonreligious Sephardim.

A year and a half later, I gave birth to another boy — also with blue eyes. Apparently, my mother-in-law’s dream was destined to be fulfilled through my progeny exclusively, and not through my nephew. At least that’s what my mother-in-law and others in the family thought. This notion was reinforced by the fact that the first of these two blue-eyed boys, Ovadia, was born on Yom Kippur, while the second, Moshe, was born on Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar and had his bris on 7 Adar, the yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu (hence the name).

“Holy neshamos,” my mother-in-law whispered reverently.

I personally scoffed at the dream, thinking the whole thing was superstitious and fanciful. Watching my two blue-eyed angels grow into rambunctious — okay, wild — boys just reinforced my cynicism. Gedolei Yisrael, my foot. If these kids ever stop kicking and punching each other, we’ll be in good shape.

Besides these two boys, I had another son, Shimon, who was several years older. Like his boisterous younger brothers, Shimon had been a spirited little boy, but in the years leading up to his bar mitzvah, he had begun to channel his energy increasingly toward learning. On Shabbos, he could learn for hours on end, but he did so with relish and excitement, not out of pressure or to meet anyone’s perceived expectations. He was accepted to top yeshivos for high school and beis medrash, and he consistently made his rebbeim proud.

Ovadia, on the other hand, gave his rebbeim plenty of white hairs. In elementary school, he once called his rebbi a Nazi. One of his favorite pastimes was loudly dropping the name of the rebbi’s wife when he was within earshot: “So Elisheva said that they’re going away for Shabbos this week….” If the rebbi would raise his voice, Ovadia would innocently ask, “If you’re a rebbi, why are you screaming?”

He was the kind of kid who was into everything but learning. A whiz in the kitchen, he could put together an entire Shabbos — from grocery shopping, to baking challos and cakes, to cooking up a storm, to cleaning up the kitchen — from the age of 11. This was a kid who devoured newspapers and knew every detail of what was happening in shul, in the neighborhood, and in the government. I didn’t have to read or listen to any news; Ovadia told me everything I needed to know. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 677)