Their spacious green lawn had been overtaken by a forest, by a jungle of leafy branches rising 20 or so feet high. It was quite disconcerting. Navigating along a narrow stretch of grass, we realized that one of those majestic trees had crashed to the ground, splintering the swing set into a pile of sticks.
“See, up there,” said Jeff, pointing to the jagged top. “That’s where the top half of the tree broke off.”
But there was more. Behind the swing set, another tree laid like a fallen soldier, pointing in the direction of the neighbor’s yard. The base of the tree, with its roots exposed, stood at least six feet high.
“Apparently, the weight of the first tree [that was] knocked toppled this tree,” Jeff said.
Another tree, trapped under the second tree, brushed against the trampoline. Like domino effect, the second tree knocked over this third tree.
On the other side of the trampoline the fourth tree was laid to rest. Barely visible under verdant branches, three walls of the shed were crushed to the ground. According to Jeff’s theory, the third tree knocked over the fourth tree. “Sometimes when a large old tree falls, the ground loosens up and the tree next to it falls, too.”
We finished our survey. The shocked mothers were still standing next to their children in the driveway.
“Our children had been playing in our backyard,” said the pale Rivkie Epstein with a shaking voice, “but right before it happened, they ran next door to play on their swing set. Thank G-d.”
Nearly two weeks later, on a Wednesday night, the moon shone brightly in the clear night sky. The Epstein’s backyard still looked like a twister had hit it. Inside, Mrs. Epstein was hosting a Chinese Auction to raise money for a yeshiva. The happy event had been planned many weeks in advance.
Knowing their hostess’s love for giving tzedakah, many guests mentioned the quote from the Talmud: “Tzedakah saves one from death.”
That’s one perspective.
Mrs. Epstein said with the voice of a child: “All I can think is how much G-d loves me.”
More stories by Tzvi Jacobs may be found on www.tzvi.com.