“But you know, Bugi, these pampered people have hard times, too”
Chezky, the kitchen manager, spread out the calendar for the coming month. “Here we have a bar mitzvah,” he said, pointing to a square on the grid. “The seudah for men is in the main hall. For the women, in the small hall downstairs. I’ll let you know what each of you will be doing next week. On Shabbos, there’ll be a big kiddush after davening. For men, in the yeshivah hall, for women in the ezras nashim. We’ll want you here for a few extra hours, all of you, so please clear your schedule for that.”
The kitchen workers nodded, and Bugi wrote down the dates. Extra hours meant more money and more to keep him busy. That was good.
“Who’s making a bar mitzvah?” he asked Yanky later.
“Feivele, the Rebbe’s son,” said Yanky.
“That young man who sits next to the Rebbe at every tish?” Since he’d started working in the mosdos, Bugi had developed an interest in the hierarchy of the chassidus.
“He was the one who sent me that nice shirt and those sweaters?”
“He looks like a real pampered prince, just like the rest of you,” Bugi grumbled. It was frustrating. Work, work, work, and he barely managed to survive. Having a normal home, even just a small rental unit with water, gas, and electricity, cost a lot of money. And that was just for him, living alone! How could he ever support a wife — and kids? How would he ever save up for his old age?
“I’ve noticed that pampered people annoy you,” Yanky said casually. “Why is that?”
Bugi’s reply was direct. “Because they have everything, and I have nothing. And no matter how hard I work all my life, I won’t have what they have. They have families, too, and parents. And they’ve got status, and everyone respects them.”
“But you know, Bugi, these pampered people have hard times, too.”
“Yeah, but for me, it’s always a hard time.”
Yanky fell silent. In his mind’s eye, he saw a living room covered with blocks and a worried woman pacing back and forth. When was that, back in fourth grade? Or maybe third. It was Rosh Chodesh Iyar, a bright, beautiful day. The upper grades had a school trip that day. Yanky, who was still too young for the trip, had been playing at his friend Moishy Berger’s house, and they were building roads across the length and breadth of the Berger living room.
“Three more hours. Just another three hours,” the Rebbetzin said in a shaky voice. She wasn’t the Rebbetzin yet back then, because her father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, was still living. She was just Moishy Berger’s aunt, pacing around the Berger living room in a fright.
“Everything’s going to be all right,” Moishy’s mother, her sister, comforted her. “Everything’s going to be fine, Tova’le. Chatzkel promised he would call whenever they’re by a public phone.”
But the Rebbetzin wasn’t reassured. According to her reckoning, they should have gotten to a gas station by now, and the last time Feivele’s melamed called was three hours ago. Three hours!
“That’s the way my aunt is,” Moishy remarked to little Yanky. “She’s always worrying about Feivele, because she only has him.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 800)
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