A t 9:30 p.m., Itzik shuffled out to the parking lot. His friends would be here soon. He started up his beloved Smart Fortwo and headed for the Aravah Road to meet them and guide them to his hideout.

His phone rang. His dear sister Faigy. He’d been ignoring her calls, but this time he decided to answer.

“Itzik! Where are you?!”

“Right here.”

“We’ve been worried about you!”

“Good to know.”

“What do you mean by disappearing like that?”

“I felt like it.”

Silence.

Finally Faigy spoke. “You remember my friend Sara’le, the one I borrowed the shal from? She was shot by the police on Monday. They shot her in the arm. She’s in the hospital.”

“Yeah, I heard about that. But I didn’t know it was her.”

Another pause.

“Nu, so where are you?”

“Nowhere in your vicinity,” he answered with obvious reluctance.

“How far away?”

“Very.”

“Okay. I see you don’t want to talk.”

“Very perceptive of you.” He himself didn’t know why he was being so sarcastic, so distant. He just knew that if he told her where he was, she would immediately start asking if there was a minyan there, and a mikveh, and a place he could get vegetables with a hechsher. And then he’d have to explain that he was south of the territory defined as Eretz Yisrael by the poskim, and that vegetables grown here were considered produce from chutz l’Aretz. Then she’d ask if he was learning a bit. What a classic older sister she was! What business was it of hers if he was learning or not? Why was she so patronizing?

“Well… goodbye, then.” Something in her voice told him she was hurt.

“I’m in a small yishuv; there’s hardly anybody here,” he said quickly. “There’s a minyan nearby, and a mikveh.”

“There’s hardly anybody there? Then you must be enjoying every minute,” she said.

“I am,” he said with a smile. “All day today, between Shacharis and late Minchah, I didn’t see a soul. It was wonderful.”

“So what are you doing with yourself all day?”

“I learn. I’ve got a Gemara here, and Otzar HaHochma. I’ve been editing some essays, and I’m also working on a book.”

Another awkward silence fell. But Itzik quickly broke it. “Faigy?”

“What?”

Itzik mustered up all the courage he had and asked, “If I were a friendly sort of guy who knew how to communicate, what would be the right thing for me to say now?”

“Mmm… maybe you’d ask how we’re doing? Maybe say thank you for hosting you overnight on Sunday?”

Right! He’d walked out on them, slamming the door behind him. Not nice.

“Thank you, Faigy,” he said with an effort. “You really saved me. And how are you and Ari? How are the kids?”

A few minutes later, after he’d closed the conversation on a happier note, a carload of cheerful young men pulled up next to him.

“Hey, mister! Are you the one who called for a search and rescue team?” That was definitely a Weiss voice. 

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 700)