We were sitting around the table at lunch time during the Shabbos sheva brachot and I was enjoying the nachas the comes from seeing my oldest granddaughter married to a wonderful boy.
Nachas without lachatz (stress) I jokingly call it, but it really is so wonderful to see the next generation following in the ways of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and previous generations.
It’s never to be assumed in today’s me-driven world with all its temptations, technologies and myriad distractions designed to pull anyone off the path
I remembered the years of bringing up six teenage daughters. Of course they weren’t all teenagers at the same time but sometimes it definitely felt like it. The noise, the telephone calls (we had to get a second telephone line just so my husband and I could occasionally receive calls), the constant singing and music booming from every room, the laughter, the clothes shopping, the teenage angst, the acne and the bad-hair days.
And of course anyone who has had the pleasure of educating their children in Israel will understand when I talk about the sweat and effort involved in getting your daughter into a suitable seminary. There always seem to be about 25 percent fewer places in the Beis Yaacov High Schools, especially in the Jerusalem area, than there are girls. And the competition for the various schools was and still is very tough.
When my daughter Leah, the kallah’s mother, was in this particular parsha, she was my first daughter and I was pretty green about the lengths to which some parents would go to get their daughter into the school that they wanted.
Many firstborn suffer from their parents’ lack of experience as each milestone is reached, but for those who are new immigrants in Israel even more so.
When Leah wasn’t accepted into the school of her choice, which wasn’t surprising with us being immigrants and having no protectzia, we accepted the decision, albeit with heavy heart for Leah’s sake. We proceeded with the application to another school although we knew she really didn’t want to study there.
Leah was not happy. She wanted us to fight, but we were just too un-Israeli to know how to go about it, and I also believed that if she wasn’t wanted somewhere I had no desire to force her on them. I felt it was better to go where you were appreciated and wanted, not where you had to fight to be accepted.
What we did say was that if at the end of her first year Leah was still unhappy, we would fight to have her transferred. We were hoping that she would settle down into the school she was in, or if not then should the situation warrant it we’d find out how to fight Israel–style by then.
The first year passed and Leah was definitely not happy. We kept up our side of the bargain and as the pressure and competition to get into 10th grade was almost non-existent – unlike those trying to get into 9th grade – Leah was accepted into her first choice school with little trouble.
I occasionally had pangs of guilty conscience for not being more proactive and strong enough to get her into the school she had wanted from the beginning, but she settled in and made friends quickly enough and the first year was almost forgotten.
And now here we were celebrating the chasunah of her firstborn daughter. The shadchan, Rochy, who had redt the shidduch, was the aunt of the chassan, who had been on the look out for a suitable match for her brother’s oldest child for some time.
As we ate our delicious Shabbos dessert, among the singing of zemiros and the divrei Torah, I turned to Leah and wondered out loud:
“Leah, what made Rochy think of your Shaindy. Where did she know her from?”
Leah turned to me smiling. ”You’ll like this, Mommy. She was in my class in the school you made me go to for a year when I didn’t get into the seminary I wanted. And, baruch Hashem, for some reason she liked me and had kind of kept up with me ever since. Occasionally, we’d meet at some event or simcha, and she knew I had a daughter the right age.”
Whatever was left of those guilty feelings I harbored for having made her go to the “wrong” school dissipated into thin air.
Oh how little we know of Hashem’s plans.