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All from Above: Chapter 5     

Naftali was still up, which was no surprise. He often learned very late into the night. But why was he crying like this?


Chaim could not have been happier. He had merited to save the life of a budding talmid chacham, and now his daughter was engaged to this special special person!

But there was something wrong. He couldn’t place his finger on it, but Chaim noticed as time went on that there was something bothering Naftali.

It didn’t make sense. The young man had everything he could ask for. He had a comfortable room, and all his physical needs were being met so that he could devote his entire day to learning in the beis medrash. Yet there was something upsetting Naftali, but he would not say a word about what it might be to anyone.

One night, before he returned to his home located nearby, Chaim walked through his inn to make sure everything was in order. It was a little after midnight, and the inn was very quiet. The sound of soft snoring drifted into the hallways, and outside, a wind rattled the windows as Chaim passed by.

And then he heard it. The unmistakable sound of someone crying. He paused, holding his breath so that he could discern where the sound was coming from.


He looked around as the crying intensified. Backing up a few paces, he realized the sound was coming from Naftali’s room. He saw light flickering from underneath the door. Naftali was still up, which was no surprise. He often learned very late into the night. But why was he crying like this?

Chaim reached for the doorknob, and then stopped. Should he say anything to Naftali, or just mind his own business? After a moment, he moved his hand away from the door and continued down the hallway.

The next night the scene repeated itself. Naftali was not just whimpering slightly; he was sobbing uncontrollably. Again, Chaim decided not to interfere. But as weeks passed and the crying continued, he could not ignore it any longer.

One night, instead of continuing his way, he stopped at the door and placed his ear against it. Snippets of Naftali’s words were somewhat audible.

“…Please, he’s a good… It is too difficult to hurt him like… A commitment is a commitment, I cannot…”

Chaim opened the door slightly and peered inside the dimly lit room.

“Naftali, I’m sorry for disturbing you, I just—”

Chaim gasped. Naftali was on the floor, tears falling from his eyes. There was a light, a glow, around him, and he seemed to be conversing with someone.

Chaim hurriedly shut the door and raced away, his heart pounding loudly in his chest.

The next day, Chaim wanted very much to broach the topic of the previous night’s incident with Naftali, but he was unsure how to do it. He pushed it out of his mind as best as he could. But the mysterious sight kept coming back to him. Eventually, he felt that he could not hold back any longer, and he approached Naftali as the young man was heading to his room.

“Naftali, I see something has been bothering you lately. I know you’ll say that it’s nothing, but I’ve come to know you for a while now, and I know when something is troubling you. Please, share with me what is burdening you.”

“Nothing is burdening me.” Naftali shook his head. “All is good.”

“I don’t believe you.” Chaim stepped in front of Naftali, so that they were no longer walking together, and instead standing face to face. “Naftali, there’s something going on with you, and I want to know what it is.”

Chaim hesitated before continuing.

“Also… I want to know what I saw a few nights ago. I’ve been listening to you crying, pleading, in your room when you’re all alone. And I… saw something, too… a light…”

Naftali’s face turned a deep red, and he looked down at the floor.

“I didn’t realize you were aware of any of this.”

“Naftali… talk to me…”

“Okay.” Naftali took a deep breath. “Ever since I signed those documents agreeing to marry your daughter, my ancestors have been visiting me from Shamayim. They tell me that I must renege on my agreement to take your daughter’s hand in marriage. They say she is not for me, not meant for me…”

“W-what?” Chaim blinked several times, trying to wrap his mind around what he was hearing. “Y-your ancestors speak to you? But what kind of message is that? My daughter is a great tzadeikis, she is a perfect match for you. You’ve already committed to marrying her, it’s a wonderful shidduch, we have been looking forward with tremendous pride to having you as our esteemed and beloved son-in-law. I just don’t understand what—”

“And neither do I. But Reb Chaim, the more I push back and argue that I’ve made a commitment, that I owe you literally my life for everything you’ve done for me, the stronger their opposition becomes. They grant me no peace and no rest, and I’m worn down from their visits, from the ongoing and endless arguments. I have no strength to keep this up…”

Chaim’s eyes filled with tears as he finally grasped just how much distress Naftali had been experiencing. He was silent for several long moments, and then swallowed hard before making his next statement.

“Naftali, you owe me nothing.”

“You saved my life!”

“Hashem has many shiluchim. It was a merit that I was chosen to be the one to rescue you from the king and his evil henchman, but I was only a puppet in the hands of Hashem. You are not indebted at all to me. You do not have to feel pressure to make me happy. I will respect your decision if you want to call off the wedding. But… only if you think the messages you have been receiving are correct, and that my daughter truly is not your zivug.”

Naftali looked up.

“I will never forget the kindness you have shown me, Reb Chaim.”

They ripped up the contract they had made, and Naftali was finally able to breathe a huge sign of relief.

Chaim smiled, even as tears of sadness welled up in his eyes.

“I hope you won’t get any more nighttime visitors.”

“Your daughter will, with the help of Hashem, find her true zivug very soon, Reb Chaim. In the merit of your selflessness and kindness, all will end well.”

“And you as well, Naftali, may you be zocheh to find your true zivug speedily.”


To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 914)

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