The Black Sheep – Chapter 24

April 5, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 24 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Welcome, come on in. So you are Ella Rothman?” Sarah Reiness smiled at the young woman who walked into her office.

Ariella coughed. “Y…yes,” she said, at the same time. It was highly unlikely that Osher had somehow shared his late brother-in-law’s name with the Reinesses. She was also certain that Sarah maintained professional confidentiality and did not share the names of her patients with her husband or his students.

“Nice to meet you. Are you from around here?”

“For now,” the younger woman whispered. “I’m from Bnei Brak, but…I’ve taken some time off for myself and came here for a little while.” She coughed on the last few words. It wasn’t a show. Her throat had decided to sync itself beautifully with her emotions right now.

“And you came to me because of the reason that I see and hear?”

Ariella smiled. “What you hear, I understand. But what do you mean by a reason that you see?”

Sarah smiled back and opened a drawer. “Here you go,” she said, and placed a small mirror in front of Ariella. It had a green striped frame. “Is there something you want to say?”

Ariella gazed at her reflection. What did she want to say? Nothing. She hadn’t come to speak. She’d come to find out more about this woman in order to figure out what kind of place Osher had found for himself.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 23

March 22, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 23 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Mission number one had been crowned with success.

Ariella watched as the taxi carrying Sarah Reiness drove off into the distance. An older man, wearing a small yarmulke, approached briskly from the other side of the sidewalk, and pushed open the gate. He was holding a faded tallis and tefillin bag, and he pulled a key ring out of his pocket, as he called over his shoulder, “The carpentry shop is closed now. It will open later this morning.”

Carpentry shop?

Interesting rabbi Osher had found himself—a carpenter-rabbi!

Ariella observed from afar as the man opened the iron door on the ground floor and switched on the light. A bitter taste filled her mouth. If this was Osher’s rabbi, she would need to think hard about what to do and how. It was a bit strange, because the speech therapist, who had just left the house a few minutes before her husband came back from davening, had given a totally different impression.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 22

March 15, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 22 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“They caught the fox.” Reb Elazar shared the news with his two students when he arrived to arrange their discharge from the hospital.

“Nice,” Shlomo said, as he sighed and touched his swollen cheek.

“Was it Gadi who caught him?” Osher asked, and then whispered to himself, “Shlomo.”

“No, he saw the fox early this morning and told my brother-in-law, who right away called the Health Ministry office in their district. It took them two hours to come, but the fox was feeling very at home and didn’t seem inclined to run away.”

“So what now?”

“They will put the fox in quarantine and take tests. If, in a few days—I’m not sure how long it takes—they find out that the fox is healthy, then you won’t need to continue treatment.”

“Thrilling,” Shlomo muttered.

“He wanted to catch it, you know,” Osher said, as he handed Reb Elazar his phone. “But I told him not to do it himself. Ooohh, I’m so dizzy.” He quickly sat down on the bed again, and the Rav watched in alarm as Osher’s face drained of its natural color.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 21

March 8, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 21 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“What do you mean, someone was here?” Sarah stopped and looked back. “You think it was one of the boys?”

“No, it wasn’t one of the boys.” He stood in the same place, his gaze narrowing as he looked up the stairs. “Wait a minute.”

“You think someone broke into the house? Then I won’t let you go up yourself!”

“It’s fine. We can assume that the intruder—if he broke in—did not sit and wait for us to come back.” He walked past his wife and went up the stairs. For a long moment, he studied the door from top to bottom, and then pulled his key out of his pocket. “Everything is fine,” he called down to Sarah. “You can come up now. No one was in the house.”

“So where were they?” she asked as she looked around. “In the yard? Do you think someone wanted something from the carpentry shop?” She ascended the stairs as he went down to get the suitcase he’d left in the middle of the yard.

“That’s what I want to check,” he said ambiguously.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 20

March 1, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 20 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

“Foxes?” Instinctively, Ariella glanced out the window she was standing near.

“Osher called us.” Before Ariella could exult at the news, her mother continued, “And so did Reiness, this rabbi of his. He spoke to Abba from the hospital. Apparently Osher was bitten by a fox.”

“Bitten by a fox? In Acco? But this is a built-up city. Where exactly is he wandering that he met foxes?”

“I don’t know.” Her mother sounded very distraught. “Osher didn’t say much. Reiness let Abba speak to one of the doctors in the emergency room there; they went to the hospital to get treatment for rabies…”

“To get what?” Ariella’s voice rose.

“Treatment for rabies.”

“It was…” She closed her eyes for a minute. “The fox had rabies?”

“It’s not clear, so in such a case, to be on the safe side, they treat the person as if the animal was infected.”

“What’s the treatment?”

“Local treatment of the bite wound, but most importantly, a vaccine against rabies. If indeed, the fox was infected, the shots neutralize the virus before it can erupt in the body, because if it does erupt, chas v’shalom, there’s nothing to do anymore.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 19

February 22, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 19 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Ariella spent the rest of Friday exploring the streets near her small apartment. It was refreshing to see children wearing velvet yarmulkes, and young men in suits and hats, walking briskly with a typical Erev Shabbos purposefulness. Not that she could ignore the rolling Arabic that she heard as well, as Arab women in their distinct garb, pushing strollers and surrounded by children, passed her by.

Her Shabbos was ready, and there was nowhere for her to hurry. She studied the buildings; some were very well kept, while others were just the opposite. She noticed the clean sidewalks and streets and wondered about the lack of traffic lights both for vehicles and for pedestrians. She did not see Osher, or any other youths that could have been his friends in whatever learning framework he was in. Just at the end of her walking tour, she found an Arab woman sitting under a massive umbrella with a few buckets of flowers. Ariella selected two modest bunches, paid for them, and then, in the rain that had begun to fall, walked back to her temporary home.

When she entered the building, she hesitated, not sure whether or not to knock on Miriam’s door. There was a little mat near it, and she decided to leave one of the bouquets there, where her hostess was sure to find it. She placed the other bouquet in a plastic cup on the small table in her room, and leaned it against the wall.

Shabbos was about to descend on the world.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 18

February 15, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 18 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

One thing managed to beautify even this dirty patch of yard outside her window: the sunrise.

Ariella woke up at four-thirty in the morning, and because she’d gone to bed relatively early, she couldn’t fall back asleep. She rose, washed her hands, got dressed, and stood near the window. A slow, dark rain dripped down, and Ariella thought that when the sand near her window turned into mud, the whole scene would be even less attractive.
But at that point, she still could not see much of anything. It was all so dark, and she was able to hear the raindrops more than actually see them.
Suddenly, something cleared up, and despite the cold, she opened the shutter slats and stuck her head outside. A patch of black sky appeared, and Ariella fixed her eyes on it, ignoring the drops that rinsed the window bars clean from the dust and continued straight onto her cheeks. The sky was still dark, but something at the very edge, somewhere near the next building, began to lighten a bit. Gradually, the color of the sky became lighter and lighter. The raindrops glistened in the reddish glow, and a wet ray of light bounced off the freshly washed stones of the wall, giving the garden a different look, as if it wasn’t filled with overflowing garbage cans, and there wasn’t a cat trying to hide in the shadow of the open cover of one of them.

“I don’t know what to tell you…I just don’t think so.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 17

February 8, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 17 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Bracha and Shulamis sat at the table peeling carrots for the soup, and Bassi slid a pan into the oven.

“That’s it!” she announced gaily. “We’re almost finished. Who wants to go keep the little ones busy? And who wants to put linens on the beds in the shed?”

“Who’s sleeping in the shed?” Bracha asked.

“Uncle Elazar’s students. And Uncle Elazar and Aunt Sarah will sleep in the guest room.”

Shulamis went out to make the beds in the shed, which was actually a small caravan connected to the house with a door; it had an additional door to the outside as well. On nice days, Bassi used the shed as a playroom for the children, and on cold days, as a storage room for the endless mountains of laundry, sacks of vegetables that Aryeh brought her from Tzefas, and lots of other things that there was no room for in the house.

Shulamis switched on the light. The floor was full of scraps of paper from Gadi’s paper boats. Piles of laundry that had been sitting securely on the old recliner were already spilling over onto the floor, while dozens of pieces of Kapla and Clics were scattered all around the room. Only then did Shulamis realize where so many of the pieces from the box in the house had disappeared to.

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 16

February 1, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 16 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

Sarah put down her bag, yawning after a long day’s work. All she wanted now was a piece of chocolate and a listening ear. She found the chocolate easily; the listening ear, though, wasn’t as readily available. To be sure, the ear was there, and ostensibly was listening, but the monotonous and unfocused responses coming from her husband proved that he wasn’t really there. His repertoire of responses was comprised more or less of, “Yes,” “What?” “Right,” “Really?” and a token, “If that’s what you want,” thrown in for good measure.

“Elazar,” she said after a few minutes of talking, “you look tired. Maybe just bentch and go to sleep?”

“I didn’t wash,” he said distractedly. “I just ate a little bit of the squash and mushroom salad left from Shabbos.”

“That’s not enough. How exactly is that going to fill you up?”

“It’s fine, I’m not hungry.”

Sarah looked at the table. “I’ll cut up some fresh vegetables for you,” she offered.

“No, no, thanks.”

“A cup of coffee?”

“No. As it is, I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 15

January 25, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 15 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week.  Click here for previous chapters.

Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications. 

For some reason, subconsciously, Irit Erenbaum did not want Ariella to go. “Tomorrow?” she asked with obvious skepticism. “Are you sure? It’s Wednesday! Wouldn’t it be better for you to wait until after Shabbos?”

“I would actually be interested to know how he spends Shabbos there,” Ariella said. Her father nodded along. “And I made up with Mrs. Abramov that I’ll spend Shabbos there as well. Everything in their house has the Badatz hechsher, she told me. She seems very happy to have me.”

“She sounds like a very nice lady—I agree with you on that.” Her mother smiled. “But it’s hard for me to think about you being there alone for Shabbos.”

“I won’t be alone, Ima,” Ariella said tersely. Irit didn’t know if she meant the fact that Osher would also be in the area, or that she would be in the home of her host family, or perhaps she was referring to the basic emunah peshutah of every Jew.

“That’s right—you’re never alone. But we will miss you here.”

“And I’ll miss you also,” Ariella said warmly. “But if I need to go anyway, then why push it off? What difference does it make if it’s this Shabbos or next Shabbos?”

“I hope you’ll be back by next Shabbos,” her mother said hastily. Ariella leaned back on the couch and remained silent.

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