It was one of those neighborhood sales. The ones where people who actually care about their sanity would never set foot. Where clothing and shoes are a fraction of the price, discounted for Bnei Torah, of course, but where you might (read: most probably will) be knocked down by the stampede of people looking for a good kill. I mean, deal.
That is where I found myself along with my two oldest daughters, looking for yom tov outfits. Since our budget was tight, when we received a coveted “invitation” to the sale, my neighbors assured me it was worth my while. “You’ll get all your children gorgeous outfits for the price of one outfit in a regular store!” they told me. It sounds too good to be true, is what I thought before I went. When I arrived and found several hundred other people awaiting their turn to be admitted to the tiny auditorium, I realized indeed it was.
We waited patiently for an indefinite amount of time, refusing to push, until we finally made our way to the front of one of the tables selling girl’s clothing. By this time, I could tell the volunteers who were manning the sale, mostly high school girls, were utterly exhausted. I pointed to the items we were interested in, which were displayed on the wall. “No, nothing left of that,” I was told. I pointed to our next option. “Nope, nothing of that either.” Figuring we had just chosen the most popular items, I asked for my third preference. “Only sizes 16 and 18 of that left.” I was incredulous; the sale had started less than 40 minutes before. Could everything worthwhile really be gone?
“Well, what DO you have left in the smaller sizes?” I asked, trying to hide my annoyance, since it really wasn’t the girl’s fault.
“This sweater we have in most sizes. And a few of these skirts.” She told me, pointing to a blue and orange set. It wasn’t exactly a color scheme that I appreciated, nor was it especially fancy for yom tov, but having shlepped out and waited this long, I wasn’t ready to head home without something to show for my time.
“Ok, I’ll take the sweater in a 14, 10, 8 and 6.” She went to retrieve them. Noticing the skirts ran rather small, I asked for the appropriate sized skirts to match each sweater.
“We have only three skirts left,” she told me upon her return.
Harrumph. Now what? It was an unusual shade of blue, and I certainly wouldn’t find something in a regular store to match. Not to mention how daughter number four would be so disappointed to be the only one not matching the rest. What to do? I wasn’t the type of mother who generally matched her children since with four girls in a row, things generally got passed down from sister to sister. This would be a lost opportunity for them.
“Do you have any sizes left of the skirt, even not one of the ones I mentioned?” I figured, it would still be worthwhile if I could have it taken in…
“Nope, nothing. I gave you the last three.”
I thanked her as I stepped aside to let the next person in line approach the front (not sure what was left for her), as I contemplated what to do.
“Do you think we shouldn’t bother with these since we don’t have enough skirts?” I asked my older girls.
“No, we like it!” they replied.
I found a small chair on the side of the room and sat down, watching the bee-like activity all around me. I was really at a loss on what to do. It wasn’t fair that everyone should lose out because I couldn’t get them all to match, but it wasn’t fair to the last child either. We sat for about five minutes, wondering what our next step should be. I was loathe to give up those three outfits and go home with nothing, but I was so overwhelmed by the whole evening, I almost contemplated doing just that.
“Alright guys, listen up,” I told my girls, switching to action mode. “Hashem can do anything. We are going to sit here right now and say some Tehillim. Let’s ask Hashem to send us that last skirt. I am certain He will answer us.” I had no idea how that last skirt would materialize, but I also knew that when in need of something, big or small, we daven. He could figure out the rest.
Together we said a few perakim of Tehillim quietly, as the hubbub continued around us. As we finished our fifth perek, a lady walked over to where we were sitting and literally dropped a large cardboard box within arm’s reach of us. “Here are some leftover items!” She called out to the crowd, as people starting darting over to see what goods they could find.
“Sweetie, go look in the box quickly before everyone gets here,” I told my oldest daughter. “I’m sure our blue skirt is in there!”
Sure enough, nestled among all the rejected robes, boys’ pants, and t-shirts, was one size 8 blue skirt to match the rest.