Since downsizing considerably to move from Pennsylvania to Highland Park, NJ, my husband and I have been sharing a closet in our bedroom for the past six years. Our turf is clearly divided, his belongings to the left, mine to the right, and like wool and linen, never the two shall mix.
My husband is in charge of making sure that our closet keeps smelling nice. I don’t ask what he does to make sure that happens, and he never volunteered the information.
One day, I saw something on the top shelf of my closet that I wanted to pull down. I was too lazy to get a stepstool, so I prodded the corner of the box with a hanger, hoping that I would be able to catch it as it fell off the shelf into my waiting arms.
Sitting on top of that box was a plastic cereal bowl I didn’t know was resting there.
Filled with baking soda.
My husband’s secret weapon.
Before I even knew what was coming, responding to my hanger’s prodding, this bowl sailed through the air, did a 180, and deposited about two cups of baking soda all over me. One moment I was eager to check out a box on the top of the closet, and five seconds later I was sputtering, and trying to breathe through nostrils full of white dust. My face, arms, torso, legs, shoes, covered in a white film that is hard to describe, but picture throwing a handful of flour up in the air and letting it settle on you wherever it may land. You get the idea. The angel dust even spread itself all over my hanging clothes, and as I opened my mouth to scream for my husband, it entered my mouth as well. (Baking soda is renowned for its dental health qualities, but I don’t recommend eating it raw.)
The sight my husband and children found as I slunk out of our closet should have aroused sympathy, but instead, it brought on gales of laugher, the rolling on the floor, every time you try to control yourself, you just laugh more… kind of laughter. You see, apparently, I was quite the sight.
But Hashem brings the refuah before the maka. My hair was covered in a cap, and although coated in baking soda, I was spared the grief of a sheitle full of baking soda, which might have been a novel way to introduce some extra shine to my wig, but who needs the hassle?
It wasn’t long after the baking soda incident saga that I felt Hashem’s preparation for the maka in another palpable way. I visit once a week with Mrs. Lola Mappa, a lovely holocaust survivor residing in Lawrence, NY, for whom I am privileged to write her memoirs. As I was leaving her home today, she suggested to me that I borrow a scarf of hers, so that I shouldn’t be cold on the way home. I insisted that I was dressed warmly enough in my jacket, and that I would only be in the car anyway, so there was no need for a scarf. Lola has a big heart, and she wouldn’t hear of it. She went to her room and removed from a drawer one of her personal scarves and showed me how to wrap it around my neck for warmth. I appreciated her kindness, although I felt the scarf to be entirely unnecessary. I left with it wrapped securely around my neck.
A half-mile from Lola’s home, I heard myself scream as my car made an explosive sound. My right front tire blew out into smithereens, rendering my car immediately incapacitated. I was traumatized by this unexpected, dangerous turn of events, and with shaking hands, I called Triple AAA from the side of the road. (I was not from there, and I didn’t know if they had Chaverim!). I paced the side of the road for quite some time as I waited for Triple AAA rescue to arrive. I was shaking from fear, but I was warm, in my new, winter scarf.
Hashem prepared the refuah before the maka. And good for me, Lola was listening.
Azriela Jaffe is a regular writer for Mishpacha magazine, the author of 24 books, a holocaust memoir writer hired by private families who wish to document their matriarch or patriarch survivor’s life story, and also known in the Jewish community as the “chatzos lady.” Visit www.chatzos.com for more information on how to transform your approach to the stress of erev Shabbos. www.azrielajaffe.com