Even though Nahum woke up with a headache he dragged himself to minyan. Services with a prayer quorum was non-negotiable and they were a good idea. Even if he slept or daydreamed through his prayers they would still be carried to heaven on the backs of those who carefully recited every word.
There had been a terrorist attack that morning, a molotov cocktail thrown at a car. The service included a lengthy recitation of the psalms for the wounded. Nahum grew impatient. He felt guilty for it—he hadn’t been attacked and yet all he could think about were his own troubles.
After services, he’d speak to Rav Amram. Rav Amram would tell him what to do, but today the tiny synagogue was more crowded than usual and everyone wanted Rav Amram’s attention.
One after another the worshipers approached him as Nahum sat in the back row waiting in the hot stuffy synagogue.
Finally it was his turn.
Nahum spilled out the whole story.
“Wow, tough.” said the Rav. Nahum leaned over toward him.
“Do you think I’m wrong. I mean what you would do”
“I’ll look into it. Call me in the afternoon.”
Instead of going home, Nahum bought breakfast at a falafel joint and ate alone in the office at his computer.
Work would distract him from his new status as the family ogre but what else could he say. He’d been fed false information, deceived, lied too.
At midday Rav Amram called to tell him to come to his home.
The door to the Rav’s apartment was half open “Come in,” he heard the Rabbi say “Sorry I’m not getting up.” He found the Rabbi seated on a bar stool alongside the kitchen island eating a grilled cheese sandwich. ‘Can I make you one too.”
For the first time he’d laughed since this whole thing started Nahum laughed. “So tell me about this girl. I mean do you think she’s a good match for your son otherwise.”
Nahum thought for a moment. Finally he shrugged his shoulders ” I don’t really know. He met her five times and I met her for five minutes. What can I know.’
“Well what do your wife and your son say?”
“Oh they think she’s great.”
“Please write out everyone’s names. Your’s your wife’s your sons and the kallah.” The rabbi handed him a legal pad and a pen.
“Can I write it in English. ”
“That’s fine.” For a long time the Rabbi studied the paper. What was he seeing in those hastily scribbled words? What sort of mystical magic was he performing?
“Nahum.’ Rav Amram “Do you know what your name means.”
It was his grandfather’s name meaning “It means comforter. ”
“Nahum melishon rahamim.” Said Rav Amram. “You’ve got the quality of mercy and mercy brings blessing. ”
“But do I have to pick up the pieces for the Silvers”.
“You feel like a frier,” the rabbi employed the Hebrew slang term for a sucker, a chump.
“Someone else was here this week, seated exactly where you are right now. A fellow whose made beautiful shidduchim for his kids, and he always splits the costs precisely down the middle, on principle. Well this time he married off another daughter and made the usual deal .” Nahum nodded. “So what is so bad about that.”
“Yes except that it’s a half year later and the poor girl is going for a get, The chosson had an internet addiction and he’s refusing treatment.”
“Okay so,” Nahum shook his head.
“You are right. Fifty fifty is ideal but I know that Rahely Silver is an excellent catch, even if she comes without a dime.”
“The Rav stretched out his hand. ” Mazal Tov Nahum – smile.”