The phone rang. Rochel checked the caller ID. It was the shadchan. Maybe this time…
“Hello, Rochel. This is Sima. How are you?
“Hi Sima. What’s doing?”
“Baruch Hashem. I called to tell you that I know a very nice girl for Zevy.”
“Oh, thank you! What’s her name?”
“Never heard of her. Where does she live?”
“She lives here in Monsey.”
“Oh, that’s good,” Rochel said cheerfully.
“She’s a very sweet girl.”
“Sounds good so far. Where did she go to school? How old is she?”
“She’s twenty-three. She went to Bais Yaakov.”
“Aha. What does she do?”
“She’s an assistant teacher in a preschool.”
Rochel’s heart sank.
“Ohhh, I don’t think that’s gonna work for us.”
Rochel could hear the disappointment and disapproval Sima’s voice.
“I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be snobby. I’m not saying the girl has to have the most prestigious job. But you know my Zevy. You know how into learning he is and that he wants to stay in kollel as long as possible. We don’t have the means to support him. I just don’t see how an assistant teaching job…”
“You don’t have to worry about that. The family wants nothing more than to support their son-in-law in learning.”
“Oh, I see. Aha. Whom can I call to find out more about her?
Sima gave Rochel some people to call.
Zevy knocked on the door and waited.
Leah’s father opened the door. He was tall and wore wire-rimmed glasses. He looked intellectual.
He smiled and extended his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Zevy. Please come in.”
“Nice to meet you,” Zevy said, shaking Mr. Feldman’s hand.
Zevy stepped inside.
“Leah isn’t quite ready yet. Let’s talk in the dining room.”
As Zevy followed Mr. Feldman through the living room, he caught sight of an exquisite painting on the wall. It was of a young girl filling her cup with water at a brook.
There was something about that painting that made it even more captivating to Zevy. The colors and shapes were not clearly defined, but blended into each other. The greens of the mountains blended into the trees. The browns of the trees blended into the grass. The image of the girl looked a little hazy.
He wanted to stand and gaze at that painting, but he followed Mr. Feldman into the dining room, passing a winding staircase on the way.
Leah’s mother sat in the dining room wearing a short brown sheitel. There was a plate of sliced cake on the table.
“Hello, Zevy. Nice to meet you. Have a seat,” Mrs. Feldman said smiling.
“Nice to meet you,” Zevy said politely.
“Have a piece of cake.”
“Oh, no, thank you. That’s okay.”
“Here’s Leah!” Mr. Feldman said brightly, standing up and looking out of the dining room toward the staircase.
Zevy stood up and watched as Leah came down the stairs.
Oh, she’s beautiful! he thought.
Her soft black hair was parted to one side, and gently brushed her shoulders. Her eyes were hazel, almost green. She had soft delicate features and she wore just a touch of make-up.
Her dress was black velvet with a bit of green and around her waist was a wide green satin sash.
She tilted her head and smiled a shy sweet smile at him as she neared the bottom of the stairs.
The world stopped.
They sat in the hotel lobby sipping their glasses of soda.
“So you’re an assistant teacher. How’s that going?” Zevy asked.
“Wonderful. I love my job!” Leah said, smiling brightly. I love children!”
She loves children.
“There’s never a dull moment,” she continued. “It’s always something. Today one of the little girls got glue all over her hair.”
“What?? How did that happen?”
“She’s a nice kid, but she’s a klutz,” Leah said laughing. “We were doing an arts and crafts project and she squeezed way too much glue on her paper. She has long hair and half of it was hanging in the glue.”
Zevy always tried to act mature and serious, especially on a first date, but he couldn’t help but giggle.
He and Leah laughed together for a moment.
“So what did you do?” Zevy asked.
“We took her to the bathroom and washed it out. It’s a good thing we noticed it before it dried.”
“Do you have adventures like this every day?”
“No, not every day. But I can tell you plenty of stories. What about you? How’s your learning going?”
“That’s good.” She took a sip of her soda. “Do you have any hobbies? What do you do when you’re not learning? Anything you like to do?”
“I like art. I paint on canvas.”
“Oh yeah?” Leah said, perking up. “Me too!”
“Really? You also paint? What kind of pictures do you paint?”
“Wow. I just love impressionist! It’s my favorite but I’m not very good at it.”
He looked down at the carpet, studying the flower design, then looked up at her again, saying, “I noticed you have a beautiful Impressionist painting hanging in your living room.”
“Thank you,” she said, turning her face away and looking down. She looked uncomfortable.
What did I say wrong? …Oh!! …
His heart skipped a beat. He stared at her with his mouth hanging open slightly.
“Leah,” he said, lowering his voice, “Did you… did you paint that picture?”
She looked up at him shyly and smiled.
He was speechless.
There’s a lot more to this girl than meets the eye.
“You’re a very talented artist,” he finally said.
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
“I wish I could paint like you. I could never do anything like that.”
“I’m sure your artwork is very nice. You have your own style. Don’t put yourself down.”
She’s very supportive and understanding.
They sat quietly. Not an awkward uncomfortable silence, but a shared quiet moment like they’d known each other for a long time.
He never felt this way. He felt relaxed and at peace sitting with her.
He studied the flower design on the carpet, petals and leaves in pastel colors – maybe he would try painting something like that one day.
He looked at Leah. His eyes settled on her hands which were folded on her lap. He looked at that silky green belt around her waist.
Ohhh, she’s a little chubby. Funny I didn’t notice that until now.
Zevy never wanted to date anyone even a little overweight. Not even slightly overweight like Leah. He told his mother to always ask the shadchan about that.
Thank You, Hashem, nobody told me, or I wouldn’t be sitting here with Leah tonight, Zevy thought.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Leah said, breaking the silence.
Zevy’s heart pounded. Did Leah notice him looking at her waist? Did she know he was thinking about her weight?
“Oh?” Zevy said, trying to sound calm.
“You’re thinking about painting a picture of those flowers on the carpet.”
He breathed a quiet sigh of relief.
“Hey, how did you know?”
They looked at each other and laughed.
Devorah was washing the dishes when Avi came up from the basement wearing that white shirt with the colorful oil paint splotches.
“You better hurry or you’re gonna be late for night Seder.”
“Yeah, I know,” Avi said, changing his shirt. “I couldn’t tear myself away from that painting. Go down and take a look.”
“No thank you. I’ll wait til it dries. Why don’t you paint with acrylic? How do you stand that smell?”
This ongoing friendly debate between mother and son about oil versus acrylic never came to a conclusion.
Avi left and Devorah went to the computer.
Avi’s name was on several shidduch email lists, and every evening Devorah would get a slew of resumes in her inbox from shadchanim.
Usually the shadchanim didn’t know the girls. They were just names on a shidduch list. Avi had gone out with a few girls whose names were mentioned this way, but so far nothing had worked out.
Still every evening Devorah got on the computer with renewed hope of finding a nice yeshivish girl who would appreciate and support her son’s learning.
She opened the first resume.
Faigy Stein. Boro Park, 24, Yeshivish.
She looked pretty in the picture. Good so far.
She continued reading.
I’m an assistant teacher in a preschool…
Oh forget it. That’s never going to work!
She continued opening resumes and deleting them quickly. Not pretty enough. Too tall. Too short.
Wrong school. Wrong job.
She opened the next resume.
There was no picture. Devorah wasn’t sure what to do with a resume without a picture, but she figured she might as well read it.
Flatbush… Yeshivish… Bais Yaakov… Occupational Therapist…
It all sounded good.
I have many hobbies and interests. My favorite hobby is oil painting…
Oh, I can just see the two of them painting together! How will I ever walk into their house with that smell? Devorah thought, laughing.
She sent an email to the shadchan, asking for the girl’s picture.
The picture was in her inbox the next evening.
She was a pretty girl, but she was a little chubby.
Devorah got off the computer.
“Oy, Ribbono Shel Olam,” she pleaded. “My son is 30 years old! Please send him his zivug!”