As they sat down to dinner Esther phoned. “The Silver’s just got back from the Rav. They can continue seeing each other.”
Molly let out a huge yell and jumped into the air. “Yahoo ,! We’re on.”
Asher threw his arms around his mother.
“Esther says that tomorrow night you’re going to meet Rahely at the Renaissance.”
“Why there,” Asher frowned.
“She says that’s what the Silvers want”
“Does Esther get a kickback from the hotel? , “said Nahum.
Molly shot him a harsh glance. “Who cares? The main thing Is that it’s on. Can’t you be happy?”
But Nahum just sat in his place cutting up his chicken.
As they stood in front of the reception desk Asher took Raheli aside and popped the question.
The previous days events had caused Asher’ emotions to rise to the surface. “Rahely, I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”
Rahely’s cheeks turned a bright pink.
“Rahely I think you know what I’m……”
A piano played in the distance as the words fell from his lips.. “Rahely, don’t want to lose you. I want you to be mine, forever, for life.”His entire body trembled.
“To get married?” Her smile accentuated the dimples in her cheeks.
“Yes,.”Maybe we could do the wedding here,” Asher said.
Right then Rahely pulled her phone from her purse to call her parents. “Don’t’ you want to call your Mum and Dad as well.”
“No, ” said Asher. “This is something I’m going to need to tell them in person.”
As soon as he got off with his daughter Rabbi Silver picked up the phone to Nahum Tumim. It was an ingrained response, the way he’d done it with all the others.
“So mechutan. Mazal Tov. Come over now. We’re going to have a LeHaim.”
“Wait a minute.. Can we put this off another day.”
Nahum was about to go to sleep.
“Sure , sure, but Mazal Tov.”
Rabbi Silver hung up the phone puzzled. “Eda,” he called to his wife. She was putting on night crème getting ready for bed. “Yes dear.”
“The father didn’t sound like he knew what was going on.”
“Oh. There’s always something Just go to sleep. I’m sure Hashem will help” said Eda. She recited evening prayers and was soon asleep but Rabbi Silver got up and settled himself at the kitchen table where he spent the night praying and studying. “I wish I had her faith, “he told himself “but I’m going tostorm the heavens. I won’t let my Rahely lose out.”
In the morning Nahum’s head throbbed. His face was pallid and his eyes ringed with dark circles. After he washed his hands, he checked his phone. “Are we supposed to have a vort today?”.
“Let me see that. ” Molly read the message. “They are inviting us for a lehaim at nine for a Le’Haim, not a vort. The vort comes later..”said Molly.
“What’s the difference?”
“Well the LeHaim is the unofficial celebration and the vort is when they actual contract to marry. The two mother-in-laws broke a ceramic plate —“.
Nahum yawned and turned away.
“I’m not ready for any of this and I need to get ready to go to shul.”
Just then Asher phoned from the yeshiva. “So is it on? Tonight?”
Molly held the phone speechless. She didn’t know what do say.
“Is there some kind of problem? With Dad.”
“Just daven.”That was always good advice. “We’ll keep you posted.”
Right after services Nahum rushed to the office and didn’t come home until late at night. Throughout the day Molly tried to reach him with calls and texts but he didn’t answer. He arrived home well after dark only to find Molly standing at the door wearing her best wig, high heels and a shimmery black dress.
“Where were you? They are expecting us at nine.”
“I’m not up for this. What if I say I’m sick? It isn’t a lie. “She widened her eyes in a gesture of mock solicitude.
“. “We need to be there in fifteen minutes. If there is the slightest bit of traffic.
Nahum headed toward the bedroom. ‘I’m going to lie down. ”
“Then I’ll take a taxi and go by myself..”
Nahum turned around following her out the door and into the car.
“What is your problem? Your son has met a great girl. He’s in seventh heaven. After all the searching, we finally got what we dreamed of?”
As they turned off the highway toward Ramot Nahum suddenly looked lost.
“Just make a left at the traffic light and then a right and a left again,” said Molly.
“How do you know.”
“I’m not quite as big a jerk as you think. Please , try to be polite.”
After several wrong turns they reached the Silver’s building. The hallway walls were dirty . The paint was peeling and just outside a family of cats rummaged through a dumpster. “Doesn’t seem like a place someone with money would chose to live ,” Nahum said.
“These apartments go for almost two million.”
‘On the front door someone had hung crepe paper streamers and a large handwritten sign with the words “Mazal Tov Asher and Rahely.”
“How sweet” said Molly. Nahum frowned. Inside the dining room table was laden with cakes and soft drinks and, marshmallows and sour sticks threaded onto skewers. They were surrounded by Silvers In every corner another child emerged, three generations gathered under one roof.
Rabbi Silver extended his hand to Nahum. Then he led him into a tiny room filled with floor to ceiling book shelves.
“Can I get you a drink, something cold, a scotch? You don’t have to be ashamed. “I’m an Irishman, born in Dublin. We like our drink.”
Nahum could have drained a shot, even more but he shook his head.
“I believe in being frank,” said Rabbi Silver.
“So do I, “said Nahum. His smile looked forced.
“I don’t know what you’ve been told about me, but I haven’t a nickel. In fact all I have are debts. I’d love to help Rahely. I’d love to buy her a house, even two houses, one to live in and one to rent out for the income but I’m afraid I can’t. If my situation improves I’ll gladly do my share, even more but right now those are the facts. If that isn’t to your liking….” He dropped his gaze …”. I will understand”
Rabbi Silver’s great bushy brows covered a pair of soft grey eyes now soft shrouded by a thin veil of tears. For a long time the two men sat together in silence, while Rabbi Silver buried his face inside of his hands.
“I hear you but the kids need to start a life… The shadchan said….”
“Yes you think I don’t know that. I’ve married off a half dozen already. I thought I could raise the funds but the deal that I was counting on had fallen through…” Rabbi Silver bent forward again his eyes cast downward.
“We’ll let you know.”
“Come on, ” Nahum said to Molly. “We’re going home.”
“How could you do this to Asher. He was going to bring his friends from the yeshiva…..”
“Esther said the guy was good for some help. $100 grand was it? ”
Molly leaned into her tissue. She didn’t pick it up again until they were back in Har Nof.
Just as Asher was about to leave for Rahely’s house she phoned.
“Something has happened. I can’t talk about it on the phone. Meet me in a half hour at the corner of Rehov Bar Ilan near the Sanhedria Cemetery.”
“A cemetery, at night? . Was Rahely sick? Asher grabbed a taxi on the street in front of the yeshiva. His heart beat like a Tom Tom while his sweat glands worked overtime.
“Please drive faster,” he told the driver.
“I’m doing the best I can.”
Asher found Rahely standing alone at the cemetery gate. “Together they walked through of the crowded graveyard, the tombs covered with stones and chips from roof tiles laying She stopped at the resting place of Rabbi Aryeh Levine, a 20th century holy man famous for his great and open heart. ” There’s a problem with the shidduch. I don’t want to get into the details but please, we’ll both recite the Song of Songs every day for the next forty days.”
That was a segula, a spiritual remedy capable of arousing heavenly mercies. Rahely smiled at him, her soft cheeks dimpling up as she did. “I’m sure it will all be fine.” Then they said their goodbyes, waving to each other. The tears in Rahely’s eyes reflected the tears in his own.
Asher went home to find his parents arguing.
“The Silver’s misrepresented themselves. We went into this under false pretenses,” said Nahum.
“I don’t think they meant anything bad . They seem to be good people. Maybe we would have done the same in their position. Why can’t you have some sympathy?”said Molly.
“I know . You want me to give in. We’ll just take the whole thing on. Well how do you think we can afford it. Do you know how much a young kollel couple can cost?”
Molly sobbed loudly.
So that’s what it boiled down to. Money. Asher could hardly believe it. And what a gem Rahely for holding back and not telling him.
“Mom, Dad,” he stood right between them. “You forgot about me. I want to marry Rahely and she wants to marry me. We aren’t asking for your money. . It doesn’t have to be all on you.”said Asher.
“Oh come on be realistic. You don’t know how expensive life can be. How will you two every put a roof over your heads?” said Nahum.
“Mom, Dad. I want this It’s my life. Please let me marry the person I want to marry.”
Asher turned and went into his room.. “Why me G-d. I finally meet the right one and then this. Oh help. “Then he remembered Rahely’s words. The Song of Songs . He recited the Solomon’s poem about the love of G-d and the Jews and then he was able to sleep. At dawn he tiptoed out of the apartment and went back to the yeshiva.