Running the Show| March 23, 2021
The girls fist-bumped and smiled smugly. Mali brandished a toothpick. “Kol chassan…” she stage-whispered. Elisheva giggled
Elisheva and Mali were the quintessential twosome. They went everywhere together and did everything together. They were in the same class at school and in the same after-school club. They did their homework together and practiced for the Purim skit together and had Shabbos seudahs together. It was almost surprising if Elisheva showed up in the kitchen without Mali, or if Mali walked into the living room without Elisheva. Well, other than in the mornings before school, of course. Morning was the one time of day that, in general, Mali was at her own house and Elisheva was at hers.
This particular Pesach vacation was a strange and exciting one. Elisheva and Mali were off from school and were busily scrubbing each other’s houses. (They did mornings at the Weisenbergs and afternoons at the Steinbergs, alternating every other day, and eating lunch and dinner at the other family every second day. They had it all worked out.) So why was this Pesach vacation different from any other? There were two reasons.
The first reason was Elimelech, Mali’s big brother. He was home from yeshivah… and (drumroll), starting shidduchim. This, of course, Mali and Elisheva knew from listening to Mrs. Weisenberg on the phone. And from peeking at Mrs. Weisenberg’s notebook (which they privately called The Notebook, in capital letters), even though they knew they shouldn’t.
The second reason was Adina, Elisheva’s big sister. Now, Adina was always exciting for Mali and Elisheva; she was a fountain of stories (especially about seminary in Yerushalayim!) and full of bubbling excitement, tons of energy and a great, big, inviting smile. But this year she was extra exciting… because she was officially in shidduchim. This, of course, Mali and Elisheva knew from all the new clothes Adina and Mrs. Steinberg bought. And from trying to overhear private conversations, even though they knew they shouldn’t.
Four days before Pesach, on a morning-at-Weisenbergs day, the girls were hard at work cleaning the kitchen chairs with toothpicks. Elisheva looked up to see Elimelech walk into the room. He was holding a Gemara and his forehead was wrinkled in thought. He took a glass of water, bumping into the broom on the way. Elisheva jumped away from the falling broom and looked at Elimelech closely. She squinted. She peered. She felt her mind whirring like a washing machine. She thought of The Notebook. And then she thought of Adina.
As soon as Elimelech wandered out, Elisheva hissed, “Mali!”
“Yes, it’s a good idea!”
The girls fist-bumped and smiled smugly. Mali brandished a toothpick. “Kol chassan…” she stage-whispered. Elisheva giggled. The girls dumped their toothpicks and grimy paper-towels into the garbage and went to find Mrs. Weisenberg.
“Adina?” Mrs. Weisenberg repeated, putting down the dust-buster. “Girls, you’re adorable. I love Adina very much, but she’s not what Elimelech is looking for. Thank you for thinking of him, darlings. Are the chairs done yet?”
Elisheva and Mali exchanged a glance. “Really, Ma,” Mali said earnestly. “I know Adina super well and I know Elimelech super-duper well. I think they’re perfect for each other!”
“I think so too,” Elisheva added, nodding. “Mrs. Weisenberg, Adina is kind and giving and sincere, and I know that’s what you’re looking for!”
Mrs. Weisenberg started laughing and the girls shared a dismayed look. “Off you go, darlings,” she said, turning the dust-buster back on. “Pesach is coming!”
That afternoon found Mali and Elisheva covering shelves at the Steinbergs. Adina worked next to them, humming cheerfully. “So, Adina,” Elisheva said, “what are you looking for?”
Adina looked at Elisheva and burst out laughing. “You’re so cute,” she said. “Why don’t you daven to Hashem that He sends me my bashert really soon. Now, please hand over the roll of paper,” she said, sticking her hand out.
“No, really,” Mali pressed. “We have an idea for you.”
Adina smiled. “You’re so sweet,” she said.
“It’s a good idea, really!” Elisheva said desperately. “It’s Elimelech, Mali’s big brother!”
Adina laughed even harder than she had before. “Elimelech Weisenberg? That’s funny. Mali, Elisheva, I know you’d love for that to happen. Then you’d be almost like sisters! Sorry to disappoint you, though…” Adina shook her head emphatically.
Mali and Elisheva looked at each other again. Strike two.
That evening, Elisheva and Mali shared a Klik bar in Elisheva’s room and then went down to Rabbi Steinberg’s study. Elisheva knocked. “Come in,” her father called. The girls entered together and stood facing Elisheva’s father. “Nice to see you, girls,” he said. “You’ve been so amazingly helpful this week!”
“Tatty, we had an idea,” Elisheva started.
“It’s a helpful one,” Mali added.
“I’m all ears,” Rabbi Steinberg said, leaning back in his seat.
“Well, we were thinking,” Elisheva said.
“About Adina,” Mali continued.
“And, well, we were thinking that Elimelech would be perfect for Adina,” Elisheva finished in a rush.
Rabbi Weisenberg regarded the pair thoughtfully. “Why do you think so?” he asked.
The girls shared a delighted grin. “Well,” Elisheva started.
“Elimelech is really a gem,” Mali continued.
“Just like Adina,” Elisheva finished.
“We think they’ll be perfect for each other.”
Rabbi Weisenberg smiled. “Thank you for your suggestion,” he said.
The girls stared at him. Rabbi Weisenberg looked back at them. After a few moments he said, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“Well, are you going to arrange it?” Elisheva said. Rabbi Weisenberg laughed out loud. “I don’t think so,” he said. “But it was a good idea.”
The girls left the study in despair. Strike three and you’re out.
“What should we do?” Mali moaned.
“It’s such a perfect match,” Elisheva said. “They’re for sure perfect for each other.”
Both girls thought silently for a while. “What should we do?” Mali said again.
Elisheva’s eyes lit up and she leaned forward. “Here’s what we’re going to do…”
The next morning found the pair standing outside a large brown door. They looked at each other. Mali bit a fingernail. Elisheva swallowed. Mali cleared her throat. Elisheva scratched a mosquito bite on her pinky. “Nu, so knock,” Elisheva whispered.
“It was your idea,” Mali said.
“Well, you agreed!” Elisheva replied.
“True,” Mali said. She lifted her hand and knocked.
The door swung open to reveal Erev Pesach chaos. “We’re looking for Rebbetzin Braun,” Mali said.
The shadchan herself appeared at the door. “How can I help you?” she asked.
Elisheva scratched her mosquito bite. Mali cleared her throat.
“We’re here to discuss a shidduch.”
“We have a suggestion.”
Rebbetzin Braun eyed the pair with a wary glance. “Yes?”
“My brother, Elimelech,” Mali said.
“My sister, Adina,” Elisheva said.
The shadchan’s eyebrows jumped. “Why do you think it’s a good idea?” she asked.
“They’re both good, and kind, and thoughtful,” Mali said.
“They both love to learn,” Elisheva said.
“They’re both fun to be around.”
“They both like to think.”
“They’re both sincere and thoughtful.”
“They’re both helpful and nice.”
“They’re both looking for a match who will be good for them.”
“They both daven to get married, and they both daven for other people, too.”
“We know both families. Both families are really good families.”
Rebbetzin Braun smiled. “Well, you might just have convinced me. Why don’t you come in, ignore the mess, and give me some details about Elimelech and Adina, and I’ll look into the possibility.”
“Thank you,” the girls chorused.
Maybe it wasn’t three-strikes-and-you’re-out. Maybe there was hope. Maybe two kind, thoughtful and sensitive girls could make it happen. When Rebbetzin Braun let the girls out a few minutes later, they ran down the block and turned the corner. Then they turned to each other, fist-bumped, and smiled smugly.
“We have the prettiest dresses in the world,” Mali sang as she and Elisheva whirled around the empty hall.
“And the biggest simchah in the world,” Elisheva replied.
“Thanks to the best sisters in the world,” a voice said meaningfully. The two girls stopped whirling and stared in awe at Adina, looking like a queen in her gown and veil. “Wow,” they breathed in unison. Mrs. Steinberg smiled at the pair. “Doesn’t she look special?”
A tear glistened at the edge of Adina’s eyelash. “Mali, Elisheva, thank you so much,” she whispered. “Thank you for being brave, for not giving up. You had an idea, you believed in it, and you made sure it happened.” Adina breathed deeply. “Thank you.”
Mali and Elisheva rushed over to her in a hug, and Mrs. Steinberg turned away to brush away her own tears.
The badeken was starting. Adina sat on her white, sparkly throne. The music played as Elimelech slowly approached his kallah.
Just to the side stood two girls, watching (and forgetting to breathe).
When Elimelech reached Adina, he looked down, and Adina looked up at him. Their eyes met.
And the two girls standing to the side turned to each other, secretly fist-bumped, and smiled smugly.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 854)
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