“G ood morning,” Faigy said as she fastened her seat belt.

“A fine morning to you, and mazel tov. How’s the writing going?” The little car sped up King George Street and straight ahead onto Keren Hayesod.

“It’s going great,” she said, a note of pride in her voice. “I managed to track down a few wives of ambassadors for a group interview. Big names, big postings, juicy stories — my editor promised me it’s going to be a cover story!”

“Unless a terror attack grabs the cover spot.”

“We’ll have to hope no Palestinian goes crazy in the next couple of weeks,” said Faigy. “They’re out of their minds, those people.”

“Faigy, you know that they’re suffering, too.”

“Itzik, if you start yammering about the occupation, I’m going to get out of the car this minute. Sometimes you go too far with your lefty talk, you know?”

“They have no citizenship,” Itzik went on, seemingly unmoved by her threats. “Only right of residence — and some of them don’t even have that.”

Faigy grasped the door handle. He was being stubborn, she could be stubborn too.

“Let go! It’s dangerous!” he yelled, to be heard over the wind, while making a right turn onto Derech Chevron.

“Be quiet,” she said in a hard voice. “Just be quiet. There’s a limit to what I’m willing to hear from you. Yesterday one of your ‘nebachs’ rammed a car into a bunch of what you call ‘oppressors.’ He killed a baby and a young woman. And you want me to feel sorry for him?”

“Okay, I’ll be quiet as a fish,” he said, and good as his word, he fell silent. Faigy looked at her brother. Could he really possibly believe all that liberal nonsense he spouted? she wondered. Nah, he’s just desperate for attention. How on earth did he expect to get married if that was how he was going to behave?

“Now you’re thinking, ‘Who would ever agree to marry him?’ ” Itzik said with a tight little smile as he navigated the Talpiot junction.

“How did you know?” Faigy asked, taken by surprise.

“I saw your face in the mirror. You all get that same look on your faces when you’re thinking that. That ‘Who’s going to want him?’ face. An older chassidish bochur who’s not only overweight, but also antisocial, and a bit of a leftist to boot. That really is a losing combination.”

“Hmm,” Faigy said. Dense he wasn’t, this brother of hers. She decided to change the topic. “When are you putting out the next volume of that chiddushei Torah series you’ve been editing?” she asked.

“Never. The client dropped me.”

“He dropped you? But why?”

“Because he wants ‘someone who communicates better with him,’ ” Itzik replied with a grimace. Despite his breezy tone, Faigy could tell he was hurt. “That guy needs a psychiatrist, or maybe a nanny — not an editor. All he wants is someone who’ll praise his amazing chiddushim to the skies, flatter him, and keep ask him how he’s doing.”

“And is that so hard? What do you lose by giving a few compliments and showing a bit of interest?” Faigy was a champion at that sort of thing. She could connect with people in a matter of seconds, always finding something to compliment, some way to forge a bond… and there was her next potential interviewee, safely in her net.

“I wouldn’t mind flattering him a bit, if it makes him happy. I just don’t know how!” he lamented. “How do I show interest in someone who doesn’t interest me? How do I compliment him on chiddushim that are mediocre at best, and are only fit to print after I rewrite them from start to finish — forget editing, this is more like correcting, filling in all the gaps in his logic. You understand?”

“So he dropped you,” Faigy said in a tone that left her meaning unclear. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 682)