As told to Leah Greenburg
“I would like to dedicate this brachah and all Amens said to this brachah to my sister Hudis, in the merit that she should find her bashert right away, settle down, and build a binyan adei ad,” my mother would say, her eyes closed, forehead wrinkled in concentration, holding up a small plastic cup filled with grape juice.
Hudis is my mother’s youngest sister, and at 33 years old, she’s what most would call an “older single.”
Ever since I was little, my mother’s been throwing brachos parties every Shabbos and Yom Tov, reminding us kids about the power of saying Amen. She would always scrunch up her forehead and say each brachah with the utmost kavanah. My younger sisters and brothers and I would sit around the table with a plate full of random foods — one for each brachah — and we would take turns picking up each item, saying the brachah loudly with kavanah while everyone else made sure to respond with a clear Amen.
Brachos parties became a “thing” in our house. But even more than that, every mitzvah was dedicated to Aunt Hudis, who was so nice and wonderful, but just hadn’t found the right one yet. Tzedakah. Every chesed. “You never know which one will topple the decree,” my mother said.
Over the years, I can’t even count all the mitzvos we did in her zechus. Nothing was really done l’Sheim Shamayim — everything was done as a merit for Aunt Hudis. We performed various segulos, we didn’t bear grudges, we gave tzedakah. Anything to help.
There’s a concept that someone who shows restraint and doesn’t lash out at someone who hurt him has the power to give brachos. Well, you can imagine what happened in my house! Whenever a kid went wailing to my mother, complaining that someone else had hit him or bothered him or whatever, the first thing she’d say was, “Did you fight back? No? You’re a tzaddik! Quick, give Aunt Hudis a brachah that she should get married this year!”
Years ago, when we were little, we’d stop in our tracks. Really? I’m a tzaddik? Because a few minutes ago, I was just an ordinary five-year-old playing with Magnatiles who had his tower bashed down by his brother, but now… I have the power to give brachos? Wow!
But as the years went on, responses like that just felt like a distraction and we’d say, “Yes, I hit him back,” just so the conversation could be about us and not about Aunt Hudis.
It was always about Aunt Hudis.
Maybe that was to be expected. My mother’s very close to Aunt Hudis, her only sister. They do have a few brothers in between them, but all of them live in different cities. Hudis is the only aunt that lives near us. I guess when you really love someone, her pain is your pain. You constantly wish you could do something to help.
I understood. I also loved Aunt Hudis and I also really wanted her to get married. Not just for her. For my own selfish reasons.
(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 757)