| LifeTakes |

The Finally Moment 

       Basically, the worst possible moment for police to show up at your door

You know that moment.

It’s the finally moment.

The moment when peace finally descends, so literally you hear it in the soft breath of the tiny Shabbos candles.

The moment when your brain shifts into that serene place, between your freshly made-up face and your tired palms, palms that had just finished frantically trimming 70 nails, curling three sets of peyos, and serving and cleaning toameha. The place where it’s just you and Hashem, the moment when you get to whisper your most personal tefillos.

The moment you live for all week.

Basically, the worst possible moment for police to show up at your door.

It starts with the doorbell ringing, followed by sharp, insistent knocking. Your daughter sees them from the front door camera and shrieks, “Police!”

The police are at the door.

Why are the police at the door?

You’re still standing in front of the candles, your palms still concealing — or is that protecting? — your face, and you’re not even scared, you’re so not scared, why should you be scared?

You’re scared.

What are you afraid of? You’re a law-abiding citizen, you haven’t engaged in any offense. Maybe someone dropped a suspicious item in front of your house. Hashem, please, send a refuah sheleimah to… and please, Hashem, protect all of Klal Yisrael, bring peace to the Yidden in Eretz Yisrael, to the Yidden all over the world, bring Mashiach — why are the police at the door?

It’s such a strange moment, the special holiness you treasure each week mixed with the chilling fear of police, you can hear their radios, and really, the NYPD is around to protect us, they are on our side, why am I thinking about October 7 now?

Your thoughts take you for a wild ride. I need to do something, I’m in middle of lichtbentshen, Kristallnacht. Hamas. The kids. The door. Shabbos. Police.

Your friend in Ashdod has told you that Hamas has their candlelighting times. Sirens at 4:15, 4:17.

You’re frozen.

And then you snap out of it. You rush through the rest of your tefillos, almost apologetically, and run to the door. “Who is it?” you ask, as though you don’t yet know.

“Police,” comes the police-like voice.

You open the door. A shorter-than-you policewoman and a just-about-your-height policeman stand in the hallway, body cams aimed at you, and they ask, “Did someone call the police?”

“Noooooooooooo,” you say.

“Oh, we got a call from this address. Everything okay?”

Behind you, the Shabbos table is set, can the police see my gorgeous sourdough under the challah cover? You joined the sourdough community a mere month ago, and you’re so proud of your work. What are the police doing in your sacred Shabbos home?

“Yes, everything’s okay,” you state. “We didn’t call.”

They’re already turning to leave — there’s something about the smell of cholent and chicken soup that assures the police this is a crime-free zone, you can trust these people, this must be a mistake — when it dawns on you. “Maybe my baby played with the phone and speed-dialed 911….”

“Oh, that’s all right,” the policeman says. “Happens all the time. Take care, then.”

“I’m so, so sorry,” you say, completely mortified now. “Have a nice weekend.”

Then they’re gone, and you turn back to your candles and try to recapture that moment — that special, sacred finally moment — but of course, it’s gone.

A minute later, the rest of the family barges into the dining room, only to discover they’d missed all the drama. No more police. Did they really come?

“The baby must’ve dialed,” you explain to them.

Your comment is greeted by quick exchanges of glances, and there’s guilt stamped on a certain someone’s face, someone who cannot be called a baby anymore. You begin to wonder how, in fact, it had been this peaceful at lichtbentshen this week? Where had everyone been?

“I hung up right away,” he says in his defense, “before it even rang.” And then, sheepishly, “How did they know our address?”

He’s so contrite, you totally melt. It’s not his type of thing to do, not at all. He’s such a sweet and innocent little boy, it had just been a moment there.

Everyone goes back to whatever they’d been doing. The men get ready to leave for shul. You sit down with your Tehillim.

And you wonder. What was that fear? Did the police really just come?

Where did that moment go?


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 873)

Oops! We could not locate your form.