A Saturday Afternoon Visitor
Copyright © R. Kossover, 2006
On Saturday afternoons I usually doze. The wine from the Sabbath meal, along with all the other medicines I take, usually does me in. I sleep, and usually find myself waking up around sunset.
This Saturday afternoon, after lunch, I didn’t doze. I tried to keep the thoughts of finances and money worries away from the edges of my mind, aware that after the Sabbath, they would come roaring back with a vengeance. They always do.
I looked at the computer – shut as always for the Sabbath. I longed to get on and type a story and send it off to Blogcritics…
I felt a Presence nearby.
Baldy? Nobody ever called me Baldy before – not that the name didn’t fit…..
YEAH, YOU. I GET TO CALL YOU BALDY. I DON’T HAVE ALL DAY.
Automatically, I thought, “Well, can’t you call me Reuven?”
MOSES RATED ME CALLING HIM BY HIS NAME. SAMUEL RATED ME CALLING HIM BY HIS NAME. YOU? YOU’RE LUCKY I SHOW UP AT ALL!
I had an idea of Who was around. Hanging around His heaven might be a very difficult experience. Especially if it was going to be for eternity.
YOU KNOW, BALDY, YOU DON’T HAVE TO HANG AROUND MY HEAVEN AFTER YOU DIE. DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS CAN BE MADE, YOU KNOW.
I was starting to get annoyed. “For my wife, you always show up as a warm blanket. Me you call Baldy?”
I SEE YOU DON’T COMPREHEND THE BASICS, KID. G-D OF SUFFICIENCY. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?
I SEE YOU DON’T. LET ME CLUE YOU IN. YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED. YOUR WIFE NEEDS A BLANKET. YOU, BALDY, NEED A KICK IN THE ASS. BUT I HAVEN’T GOT TIME TO SHOOT THE BREEZE. IF YOU NEEDED A WARM BLANKET LIKE YOUR WIFE DOES, I’D BE A WARM BLANKET. I CAME TO GIVE YOU SOME PERSONAL TUTORING.
Now I was very uncomfortable. Already on the edge of losing a spot in Heaven, learning that G-d felt that I needed a kick in the ass…
LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS, BALDY. WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SABBATH?
"Well, uh, you don’t write, you don’t ignite a flame, therefore you don’t turn on the stove, you don’t turn on the electricity or gas, you lay off the computer, the TV, the radio."
THAT’S GOOD, FOR A START. WHAT ELSE?
"Well you don’t do anything that would be done in constructing a Temple or the kóhen gadól’s clothing, like sewing, knotting, perfuming, jewelry work…"
THAT’S PRETTY GOOD, BALDY. ESPECIALLY SINCE THE LAST TWO PORTIONS OF THE TORAH YOU READ WERE ABOUT THAT – AT LEAST YOUR MEMORY ISN’T GOING…
NO, NO. DON’T GET UP. AT LEAST YOU THOUGHT OF PROSTRATING YOURSELF. ARE YOU BEGINNING TO SEE WHY SAMUEL OUTCLASSES YOU BY SEVERAL DEGREES, BALDY? JUST BECAUSE ABRAHAM RAN TO GREET ME WHEN HE WAS STILL RECOVERING FROM HIS CIRCUMCISION DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO GET UP. I WOULDN’T WANT YOU TO STRAIN YOURSELF OR ANYTHING…
BOY, YOU’RE SLOW.
ANYWAY, BACK TO WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SABBATH. WHAT ELSE DON’T YOU DO?
“Uh, well, you don’t do agricultural work, you don’t make your beasts work, nor your wife, nor your kids, nor the stranger in your gate.” I thought I could sense Impatience.
NO, IT’S NOT IMPATIENCE YOU SENSE, BALDY, IT’S LONG SUFFERING. NU, WHAT ELSE?
“Well, you don’t learn anything new.”
I WAS WAITING FOR YOU TO GET TO THAT, BALDY. SO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO LEARN ANYTHING NEW TODAY, RIGHT?
“Well, I suppose. I mean, they are Your rules….”
THAT IS PRECISELY WHY YOU NEED A KICK IN THE ASS, BALDY. DIDN’T YOUR FATHER TEACH YOU ANY MANNERS?
DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ANSWERING. I KNOW HE TRIED. I REMEMBER WATCHING THE POOR GUY…
This was getting worse by the minute. “Alright, how many times do I have to apologize for being such a lousy son?”
“Chyep ‘em nisht”, I heard in the background – my father talking in Yiddish, essentially saying not to squeeze me so hard, not to push me so hard. - just like my mother used to say to him when he was trying to teach me manners…
ALRIGHT, LET’S JUST GET BACK TO BUSINESS, HERE. YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO ANYTHING NEW. AND WHAT IS IT PRECISELY THAT ALL THESE THINGS ARE CALLED?
“In Hebrew or in English?”
WELL, FRANKLY, I’D PREFER THE HEBREW, BUT IT’S THE ENGLISH THAT WILL TEACH YOU THE POINT.
“Uh, creative work, right?”
THAT IS PRECISELY RIGHT – CREATIVE WORK. NOW WHAT WERE YOU THINKING JUST BEFORE YOU SENSED ME AROUND?
“I was thinking about an article I wanted to write for Blogcritics, a think piece…”
EXACTLY, BOYCHICK. CREATIVE WORK. IT’S REALLY BEEN GETTING ON MY NERVES LATELY. YOU SPEND ALL YOUR SABBATHS THINKING ABOUT CREATIVE WORK!
“Well, what I am I supposed to think about – You?”
YEAH, YOU NITWIT!! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO THINK ABOUT ME – NOT YOUR DAMNED CREATIVE WORK THAT ISN’T WORTH TWO SHAKES OF A LAMB’S TAIL, IF YOU’LL PARDON MY ENGLISH.
It came back to me. The blessing over the Sabbath meal “Six days shall you do your creative work – the seventh shall be for the L-rd your G-d” It sounds much better in the Hebrew – at least it rhymes.
GOOD! YOU GOT THE POINT! NOW I’M OUTTA HERE! IT’S A GOOD THING I THINK ABOUT YOU AT ALL , BALDY.
Suddenly, the Presence was gone. I felt my son prodding me. I looked up. I hadn’t realized I’d fallen asleep. He had a glass of grape juice, a spice box and a small plate. He looked at me – the reflection of his mother’s face.
“Dad, you need to wake up. It’s time to say havdalá. Shabbát is over.”