THE MODERN AND THE ORTHODOX
Episode ThreeSetting: Evening at the Rosenberg Home.
When we last left the Rosenbergs Mrs. Rosenberg was physically preparing a boatload of latkes and mentally preparing herself to tell her dear, sweet, thirty-eight year old son Baruch Mordechai about his adoption.
Let us fast forward a hour or two- Baruch his wife Malky are helping Mrs. Rosenberg clear the table after eating far more than either of them had intended. Their four children are playing with their Chanuka gifts happily in the den while listening to Uncle Moishy's latest release: "Brush your teeth with Uncle Moishy."
Mrs R.: Baruch, Malky let's sit in the living room I have something I want to talk to you about.
Malky and Baruch exchange worried looks followed by a quick raise of the eyebrows from Baruch and a smile back from Malky. They both relax a bit and sit down on the plastic covered couch. Mr. Rosenberg joins them and sits in his armchair across from the couch.
Mrs R.: Oy Baruch, you know I've tried so hard to be a good mother to you always.
Baruch: Of course Ma.
Mrs. R.: We are both so proud of you, you and and your wonderful family. I would never want anything to stand in your way, I only want the best for you, you know that right?
Baruch: Ma, what is this about?
Mrs. R. Well you see there is something that you don't know. Something I should have told you years ago but I never could find a way.
I'll start at the begining:
Your father and I got married in 1957 it was such a nice wedding, nothing like the weddings today with the ice sculptures and the sushi and the chopped liver in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, but very nice.
In the apartment house where we lived at the time our neighbor upstairs had a new baby, our neighbor downstairs had twin boys, the family across the hall had four girls- all in one bedroom. We were surrounded by children but years passed and we had none of our own. I was heart broken. Your father did everything he could to make me happy. He bought me flowers, we went out to dinner when we had a little extra money but I felt to sad and empty. We went to doctors... oh we tried everything.
I bit the pitom of the esrog every year after sukkos, I ate the ends of the challah every shabbos, oy what I didn't try. Finally after nine years I felt that we should just give up. Our tenth anniversary was right around the corner and your father wanted to do something special to lift our spirits. So we decided to take a trip to Israel. It was so exciting, not like today where a trip to Israel is like a trip to Chicago. We planned, and shopped, and packed oh was it exciting it was the best I'd felt in a long time, and when we got off the plane it was sunny and warm- oh it felt so good to be there.
We took a taxi to Yerushalim, it was a FORTUNE I tell you but what could we do. I couldn't ask your cousin Yetta to pick us up (looks over at Mr. R) - she didn't have a car, plus her back problems, oy I don't want to get into it...
Baruch: Ma! What is this about already?!
Mrs. R. - Well you see Boruch.... you are adopted...
Mr. R: Gevalt! Just let me tell it. Here. When we were in Eretz Yisroel we happened to meet a a woman on our way to the Kosel for the first time. She didn't look well. She was selling red strings for Money. Your mother of course was still hoping for a miracle in those days and wanted to buy one, but when we approached this woman we could both see right away that something was terribly wrong. She looked like she was about to faint so your mother took her into the shade to sit down and I brought her a drink.
As she drank she suddenly spilled out her whole story to us half in yiddish half in hebrew. She spoke so quietly we didn't catch it all but basically we came to understand that her husband had passed away suddenly eight months earlier leaving her pregnant and with a young son. Poor and desperate and in a panic she went to a Rav for help. He introduced her to a wealthy family visiting from Canada who gave her enough money to pay up her rent and put food on the table. They promised her they would give him everything he needed and raise him to be a torah-true Jew, but she knew in her heart that wasn't true. She could tell they were Kalt Litvaks, strict and serious with no joy in their hearts. Still, she knew her son would be well educated and taken care of- she would never have to worry for him. She felt she had no choice. It broke her heart but she couldn't feed him and she was feeling weaker by the day. She gave him up.
Now she was due to have a baby, her parents had passed away, she had no one- she barely looked pregnant, well who could tell under all that clothing- and she didn't know what to do... As she talked she was getting paler and paler and then she just fainted I guess, right on to your mother's lap. I called a taxi and we went straight to the hospital. We never left her side, the woman was in and out of consciousness. As we waited for the doctor the woman thanked us over and over although we kept telling her not to - she seemed very weak but not fearful. If I don't make it, she said, please take care of my baby. I know he will be well loved by people as caring as you. The nurses took her from us and we waited in the waiting room for hours and hours. Your mother said Tehillim the whole time. The doctors performed a C-section to get to the baby, a boy, born tiny but healthy.
The mother didn't survive, she was too weak. She lost a lot of blood they told us, it was very sad. Things were different then today it would be another story. The nurse told us that as she was fading away she told them to give the baby to us. That we were sent to her by the angels. That baby was you, Baruch.