| Serial |

Picture This: Chapter 6

It only took half an hour to get the glowing newlywed look complete, and at long last, she was ready to face the world


Golda Rosen prided herself on being a focused person. She wasn’t a big believer in labels; when Aryeh’s rebbeim would bandy about terms like ADD and dyslexic, she’d come home and implore her middle son to just focus.

She felt terrible about that now, especially after his divorce. Was it her fault? Could she have done more, been there more, seen more?

Dovid was adamantly opposed to guilt. “Jews move forward, Sedom looks back,” he liked to say. Which actually only added to her feelings of guilt.

Today, even with all of her prized focus, she somehow got lost in thought on the way home from the Butcherie and had wound up on Williston just when the boys’ school was let out.

She wasn’t used to this. Wasn’t used to being so wrapped up in herself and her thoughts that she lost her way. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

She didn’t like it. Not one bit. Golda Rosen was a giver, a doer. She didn’t drive around wistfully, dreaming of a different life.

Now she’d driven by rote as her mind had wandered. All those years of rushing to pick up the boys after Tuesday shopping had created muscle memory, never mind that she hadn’t done elementary school pickup in over seven years.

“Accept what you cannot change.” Another one of Dovid’s gems. Well, then, she definitely wasn’t changing carpool traffic. She leaned back in her seat, turned the AC on full blast, and ripped open a bag of chocolate-covered almonds. Might as well be comfortable.

She scrolled through her phone. Pictures of Yonah and Estee, posing in front of her Shabbos candles right before candlelighting, popped up. Gosh, they were cute. They’d had a wonderful Shabbos last week. She was proud of her son, proud of the home he was building. And Estee was… young. Mature, yes. Poised, yes. But very, very young.

Golda smiled to herself as she inched forward. Hadn’t she been exactly the same way? Young and starry-eyed and so full of dreams and hopes and expectations.

Someone laid on their horn behind her, interrupting her stroll down memory lane. Yes, she had been a dreamer. And for the most part, those dreams had played out. She was a grateful woman.

Only, she thought, as she finally managed to make a U-turn out of the school driveway, can’t dreams change?

Thank You, Hashem, for Sundays.

Estee stretched. She’d gone back to sleep after sending Yonah off to yeshivah — nashim b’mai zachyan — and now she was ready to face the day. She was going to go grocery shopping with her mother, do a load of laundry, write Yonah a happy two-month anniversary letter, and make dinner. Then, after dinner, she was actually going to leave Yonah alone — gasp — so she could go to the newlywed Neshei event.

She really, really didn’t want to, but Yonah had been so excited when he heard about it and he was pumped for her to meet his chavrusa’s wife. Which kind of felt like she was in shidduchim all over again.

But she’d pretended to be excited. Or at least, not vehemently opposed.

First, getting ready. It only took half an hour to get the glowing newlywed look complete, and at long last, she was ready to face the world. And meet Ma.

She’d been driving since she was 17, but something about backing out of their driveway, iced latte clattering in the cup holder, AC blasting, made her feel very married and very grown up. She smiled as she recited a perek of Tehillim. Her mother had always done that when pulling out of the driveway, like a mini Tefillas Haderech. It was cute to see how much she was taking from her childhood home into her marriage.

Ma was waiting in the parking lot. Estee parked and walked over slowly; it would be a shame to ruin the sheitel.

“Est! You look amazing. How you doing, sweetheart?” Her mother looked at her searchingly.

Estee smiled. “Doing great, baruch Hashem. Ready? I have soooo many things today….”

Her mother laughed and pulled her into a half hug. “Of course you do, my hardworking married daughter.”

They headed into the store. “Okay, let’s start by produce,” her mother said. “You want to think in general terms — apples, oranges, cucumbers — and then you want to also cater to specific recipes. If I want to make that pepper chicken, I’ll need more peppers.”

Estee grinned. “Ma, I’m going to record you like you’re a seminary class.”

Taking a step back, she gazed at her mother appreciatively. “Ma, you know I want to be you when I grow up?”

Her mother gave her a kiss on her cheek. “I hope you’re much, much more, sweetie.”

Later, unpacking the groceries, she took a deep breath. She’d kind of hoped Ma would pay for the groceries, and she had.

“This isn’t exactly kollel pricing,” her mother had said, giving Estee a wry smile. “Maybe ask around what grocery stores the other girls shop in.”

Which had annoyed Estee, because why did Ma have to burst her bubble like that? Estee had given her mother a moody kiss goodbye and sped off before Mrs. Lefkowitz had even entered her car.

Dinner was pepper cutlets — Ma had gotten her in the mood — and then she left Yonah with a platter of fresh brownies and his letter. He seemed fine, maybe a bit too fine? Well, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The shul basement was well-lit and there was a pretty pareve cheesecake buffet set up next to an urn with tea. Estee was unpleasantly reminded of her Boston sheva brachos. She shook that off and looked around for a familiar face. There were none. Lovely.

An older woman with a big smile handed her a name tag and a pen. She accidentally wrote Estee Lefkowitz and had to ask for a new one.

A tiny brunette at her side grinned. “Totally did the same thing. Like, how on earth are we supposed to remember?”

Estee laughed. “I know!” She squinted at the girl’s tag. “Chaya Erlich. Okay, so is that your married name or not?”

The girl smoothed the tag. “It is, I fixed it! And you’re Estee Rosen. Cute! What shiur is your husband in?”

Estee followed the girl over to the buffet and then watched, mouth hanging open slightly, as the girl loaded her plate with three slices of cheesecake.

“Um, Reb Naftoli’s,” she said, spooning a sliver of cherry cheesecake onto her plate.

Chaya stopped in her tracks. “No! Ohmigosh, my husband was, like, adamant that I meet you. They’re chavrusas!”

Well, that was pure hashgachah, she thought. They found seats together and made small talk until the speaker took the podium.

Estee found herself blushing the first few times the woman said “your husband,” and laughed inwardly. She snuck a glance at Chaya; the girl was sitting enraptured.

“Ladies, respect him. Just respect him. You know how you want him to hear you, to listen to you, to see you? Well, respect is what he needs in order to do all of that.

“And here’s the funny thing. We grow up hearing ‘respect must be earned,’ but in marriage, it’s actually the opposite. Grant him respect, and gradually he’ll earn it. Turn away from the socks on the floor, the crumbs on the table.”

The audience laughed.

“Yes, we wonder why a man who made three siyumim last zeman can’t put the cover back on the olive oil.”

A louder laugh this time.

“Girls, these are trivialities! Small things. Imagine telling the shadchan, ‘I won’t marry him because he can’t cover condiments.’ No! That would never happen. Grant him the respect he deserves purely for being your husband. And he will treat you like the queen you are.

“Have a wonderful night and may you all continue building beautiful batei neemanim b’Yisrael.”

The spell was broken. The women clapped and then stood up, stretching. “I think I lost my ability to sit through a class after sem,” Chaya said, yawning.

Estee laughed. “Same! I almost said that I need to go make a coffee, and then realized I’m a married adult and can leave if I want to.”

They looked at each other, grinning understandingly, and then exchanged numbers. And then Estee got back in her car, but didn’t turn it on.

She could ignore socks on the floor and missing bottle caps. She did, on a regular basis, actually. But what if your masmid of a husband, the top bochur of his Treiger’s shiur and eagerly snatched chavrusa at Reb Naftoli’s, was waking up later and later every day? And what if that might have something to do with the seven Harry Potter books he’d borrowed from the Lefkowitzes’ house and was currently plowing through, despite his comments about not having time to read?

Was she still supposed to grant him unconditional respect then?

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1013)

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