I held back, this was not my type of thing.

I was people-watching with Chana at Shifra’s wedding when the shul rebbetzin, Rebbetzin Rosengarten, approached. Chana seemed comfortable. I just nodded along until the Rebbetzin said, “Mazel tov on your husband’s new sefer. My husband says that only Rabbi Schwartzberg could tackle Keilim so comprehensively and with so much depth.”

I darted a look at Chana. Her husband had just put out a sefer?!

“Thank you,” Chana said. “It’s been in the works for ages, but with all his commitments to the kollel, it was hard to find the time.”

Kollel? Chana’s husband? My body stopped mid-motion. This made no sense. Brain freeze. I saw arms waving in the distance. Rafi, at the mechitzah. My savior.

“Excuse me,” I said. I picked my gown up a bit so I could walk faster. Why was I wearing long? Just because I was the best friend? Stupid rules.

“They have sushi,” Rafi said, offering me a plate.

“Chana’s a rebbetzin,” I blurted out.

Rafi looked confused. “What?”

“Chana, my friend Chana, school secretary Chana, is a rebbetzin.”

“Oh, cool.” Rafi popped a piece of California roll into his mouth.

“No, not cool,” I huffed. “It’s all wrong. I can’t be friends with a rebbetzin.”

“I’m confused. How did she become a rebbetzin? And why does it mean you can’t be friends with her?”

“Rebbetzin Rosengarten came over and they were so friendly and then Rebbetzin Rosengarten was complimenting her on her husband’s new sefer, she was going on and on, ‘Rabbi Schwartzberg this, Rabbi Schwartzberg that,’ which makes his wife Chana a rebbetzin.”

I was ranting.

“And rebbetzins are not my type, I always have to watch everything I say. It’s like being with kids all day, behave yourself so you set a good example, except with rebbetzins you have to behave because they’re the good example.”

“Wait, Chana’s husband is Rabbi Schwartzberg — Rosh Kollel Schwartzberg?” Rafi asked in a one-plus-one tone.

“Guess so.”

“That’s Chana’s husband?” Now Rafi sounded shocked. I shrugged. He burst out laughing — the laughing that attracts attention, it was so loud.

“This is not funny!” I said.

“You’re friends with a real rebbetzin.” He mock-gasped. “And you like her.”

“Liked,” I corrected. “I can’t be friends with her anymore.”

Rafi gave me a look like he thought 72-hour psych hold was a solid recommendation. “Why not?” he asked, still laughing.

“I told you why!”

“But that’s not Chana! She hasn’t changed an iota, it’s just your perception of her that’s changed.”

“Perception is reality.”

“Perception is a farce. In this case at least.” Rafi pulled a serious face. “Yes, I think it’s very funny that of all people you’ve befriended, you lucked into a rebbetzin.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 577)