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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The Black Sheep – Chapter 14

January 18, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 14 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. 

Aryeh’s car stopped near the house, and five sweaty, scraggly-looking children burst out of it. “It’s here! I remember it exactly here!” one of them cried, and dashed up the stairs.

“Oops!” A young man, who almost collided with the boy, stuck out his arm to block his path. “Is that how you run, without looking where you’re going or anything? We both almost went tumbling down the stairs! Where are you rushing to?”

“To our aunt!” the boy said.

“Your aunt?”

“Aunt Sarah!” he said, his tone clearly implying what he thought of this creature who had not heard of his aunt.

“Oh.” The young man pressed himself again the railing, and the child didn’t wait another second. He knocked loudly at the door, and without waiting too long, just opened it. By then, the other four children had followed him up the stairs. Their father, still downstairs, shook Reb Elazar’s hand. Rabbi Reiness had just emerged from the carpentry shop, accompanied by three youths.

Bli ayin hara, a real crew you’ve got here!” Aryeh said to his brother-in-law. The boys nodded politely and then somehow slipped away.

“Look who’s talking!” Elazar Reiness said, looking at the cheerful face that peeked out over the railing from the second floor. “Who is that—Baruch? Hey, kiddo! The railing isn’t very high! Be careful!”

“Yes, he’s not used to such heights,” Baruch’s father said as he and his brother-in-law headed for the stairs. “So what is this, Elazar? You opened an institution? You came all the way here for the carpentry shop? Nu, come on. You can’t tell me stories.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 13

January 11, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 13 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 Reiness put her appointments book into her bag and pushed it over to end of the countertop. She looked around for the cover of her pen while answering an incoming call. “How are you, Bassi? How are the kids? How are you managing?”

“Baruch Hashem, wonderful.” She heard the cheerful voice of her younger sister. “Baruch and Gadi went out to chase a deer that they claim they saw. Shulamis and Meira tried to tell them that there are no deer in the Galilee Hills, and they all went out to decide who’s right. Arik and Daniel are playing Kapla here next to me, Malka is trying to knock it down, and Kreindy is sleeping, and that’s it. Oh, and Yisrael Meir is not back from cheder yet, of course.”

“And who was right? I’m curious. Are there deer in the Galilee or not?”

“What else do you want me to know? I don’t even know if there’s enough laundry detergent in the house, and you’re asking me about deer?”

Sarah chuckled. “Would you like to come to us for Shabbos?” she offered.

“With Kreindy? I don’t like traveling with such a small baby in this cold.”

“But how will you be able to cook this way?”

“Oh, the kids help me. You have to see the dips that Shulamis can prepare… I’ll make a challah dough and fish tonight, Aryeh will make the cholent, and we’ll manage just fine.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 12

January 4, 2021

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 12 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. 

“Reiness…” Mordechai Reiness knitted his brows. “Which Reiness?”

“His first name is Elazar. From Acco. Or Haifa, actually.” Yigal Erenbaum looked ahead as he gripped the wheel. He regularly gave people rides on his way home; he knew it was a great chessed for them and was happy to help them out. After this passenger got in and thanked him effusively, Yigal’s attention was piqued when he heard that the man’s name was Reiness.

“Elazar Reiness? Oh, you mean my cousin. We were actually just talking about him recently.”

“He’s your cousin?”

“Yes, but we’re not the same age at all. He’s about thirty years older than me. His father was much older than my father.”

“And what does he have there in Acco? A yeshivah? A youth hostel?”

“I have no idea.” Mordechai shrugged. “I just know that my brother was very surprised when he moved back to Acco.”

“Back?”

“Yes, his family lived there when he was a child. My older brothers still remember one single, historic visit they made there.”

“So, why did he move back?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 11

December 28, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 11 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. 

Osher

I opened my drawer and took out the linen with a pattern of colorful squares. Nechemiah sat on a chair near the bed and drank the tea I had made for him. He watched me stretch the sheet over Yeruchem’s mattress, and wave the thick blanket in the air a few times. “So that it should be soft and fluffy and full of air,” I explained as I did it again. I remembered my father waving our blankets in the air. At home, Abba always does that when he puts on the linen. I could never do it as well as he does, but I’m getting there.

“I thought that the only way to do it is to bang the blankets,” he said, his eyes closed.

“So from now on you’ll know that you can also wave them in the air,” I said as I folded it back. “Here you go—make yourself at home.”

He laughed at my joke, but his laugh was hoarse, clearly the laugh of someone feeling ill. He got up, swayed a bit, and then slowly walked toward the bed. He just about fell into it.

“Do you want some Tylenol?” I asked.

“Yes, thanks. I think there is some in the kitchen cabinet, right side on the top.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 10

December 21, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 10 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! So good to see you! You haven’t been here for two days already!”

“That’s right,” Ariella said tonelessly. “It’s fine—you seem to have managed without me.”

“Should I make you a tea? You’re very hoarse again.”

Her sister looked at her gratefully. “Yes, thanks,” she said quietly, and sank into a chair in the kitchen, exhausted. “I’m thinking about going away.”

“Going away? Where to?” Lakey hung the milchig dishtowel on the hook.

“I don’t know.”

“Will you take me with you?” Lakey asked mischievously. “Sounds like a magical place, this ‘I don’t know.’”

“You have school.”

“And you have work.”

“My students can wait a bit,” Ariella said dismissively.

“That’s not exactly true,” Lakey said. “You teach about six girls a day, five days a week. So out of all of those, there aren’t some who have tests coming up? Accordion is one thing; you can always leave them some instructions about what to practice when you’re not here. But math?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 9

December 14, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 9 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. 

Osher

I sat on the floor of the carpentry shop and examined the carvings in the wood. With half an ear, I heard Reb Elazar speaking. He has a regular seder, I see. He starts with the parshah already on Wednesday evening, and he has two additional shiurim on the parshah, on Thursday and on Friday afternoon. Sometimes, he gives it in the carpentry shop; other times it can be in the back kitchen, or even on the beachfront.

He happens to be a very interesting speaker, and despite the ugly hole I had mistakenly made with the machine in the middle of the word ‘V’achalta,’ his words swirled around me and apparently also found an entry point to my head.

“I really enjoyed that midrash about Yaakov Avinu,” I told him afterward. “I wonder if my father knows this midrash. He likes to tell us lots of midrashim at the Shabbos table.”

“Tell him, and you’ll find out if he knows it.”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 8

December 7, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 8 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. 

The wheels of the accordion cart protested as Ariella wheeled it down the street; they were not enjoying the overuse after a long hiatus. Ariella tugged the cart behind her, deliberating whether to go into the hardware store to buy something to oil them with, or if she should leave the errand for the way home from Zahava’s house.

She glanced at her watch. No, she’d better wait for the way back. Zahava’s little students were waiting. They had made up for ten o’clock a.m., and now it was two minutes past ten…

“Good morning, Ariella.”

“Good morning, Morah,” Ariella said, not looking at her watch anymore, although Morah Mayer’s voice gave her an urge to glance at it again. It was a reminder of those days when the teacher would stand at the gate of the school to greet the latecomers.

“How are you, Ariella?”

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The Black Sheep – Chapter 7

November 30, 2020

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 7 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. 

The story of the black sheep was about a prince who had been sent into exile because of his misbehavior—so contrary to the rest of his refined and cultured family members—and thought he had been forgotten there forever. Because he was so unruly, he never bothered to read the letters from his father, the king. Osher’s preschool teacher had told the class the parable in kindergarten, and Osher had returned home fascinated by the story of the prince who was the black sheep of his family.

Reb Elazar and his son, Nechemia, who was home from yeshivah for Shabbos, listened to Osher’s account with interest.

“One boy asked the teacher if the mischievous prince would stand on the benches during circle time and jump onto the floor, ‘like Osher does.’ The kids all laughed, and the teacher told the boy that we don’t talk that way, but it didn’t help. And when my sister Ariella came to pick me up at the end of the day, I told her everything, and she went over to that boy and told him that when she was little, she also jumped off the chairs in her kindergarten class. But the girls didn’t make fun of her, because it’s not a nice thing to do.” Osher didn’t know that he was the first one of the boys to be doing this kind of “session” in the Reinesses’ private kitchen. The Friday night seudah was long over, and only he had gone up to help Reb Elazar and his son organize the refrigerator so that everything could fit back in.

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