Led by a small boy whom the Finder has hired, Emanuel begins to search for Kalonymous. The boy tells him they will go first for a brachah.
* * *
“Shalom, yeladim!” Zayit raised a hand in greeting as he approached the Rothstein home.
His visit was not unplanned. He and his wife had spent several hours the evening before with Motti and Breindl, trying to calm them down and think of solutions. There were fires burning in three places: Kalonymous’s unknown location somewhere in Yerushalayim, inside the elder Rothstein home, and in the hearts of their two little charges, Hershel and Dovid’l.
Breindl remained distraught after her attempt to calm the boys. They missed their brother terribly, and their pain left Breindl at a loss for words, because really, she and Motti had sent Kalonymous away. She knew it, they knew it, and no one could explain why such a thing that caused so much heartache had been allowed to take place. The world they’d carefully knit together to house the young refugees had unraveled completely, and there seemed to be no way to piece it back together.
The easy atmosphere that had once permeated their home had disintegrated as well. Tempers were short and tears easily shed. It was hard to mask the tension. Even their son Yehudah understood that something had gone terribly wrong, and had taken to spending more and more time away from the house, roaming the fields.
Breindl would serve Motti bread and soup, but instead of the warm smile she usually served with it, her eyes were raw and her mouth turned down at the corners. Neither of them could believe how quickly and how thoroughly their lives had changed from one day to the next. Had they known the domino effect that was about to be unleashed, they’d surely have made different decisions.
Zayit and Orna listened as their young neighbors bared their souls in pain, accepting the older couple’s sympathy in the form of endless cups of tea.
“As much as we would like to find Kalonymous,” said Breindl, “Our main concern right now is the boys, Hershel and Dovid’l. All the progress we have made with them is starting to reverse itself. They sit on the floor with their backs against the wall exactly as they did when they first arrived, only now they don’t have Kalonymous to cling to and they look even more forlorn. I don’t know what to do for them anymore!”
Orna placed her worn hand over Breindl’s softer one and held tightly. She’d led her young neighbor through various child-raising challenges, and she’d encouraged her when the decision had been made for Motti and Breindl to take in the refugees. There was little Orna wouldn’t do for Breindl, but she could not turn back the clock. Decisions had been made; consequences had unfolded, and all there was to do now was figure out the next step.
“We are so grateful to have you to turn to,” said Motti, though he had said it before and would no doubt say it again. “How did I misjudge so badly? I was blinded by something I did not want to see in my own son. I understand that now. Perhaps we should have let Emanuel and Esther take them in as we had originally planned. Then none of this would have happened.”
“Is it helpful to speculate this way?” asked Zayit. “What was, was. Now we have to look at what is. The most pressing problem right now are the little ones, so that is what we will take care of first. Would you mind if I come to collect them tomorrow and take them on a little walk? Do you think they would agree to come with me?”
“Without Kalonymous?” Motti doubted.
“I think they’ll go,” said Breindl. “They barely leave the house anymore, and they will appreciate the opportunity. I will pack them some nice food in a sack and maybe you could make a picnic for them.”
“Should I come as well?” asked Motti.
“Let’s see how it goes,” he said, not unkindly, but Motti knew that Zayit expected to be the sole adult in charge.
Motti looked down at his fingers, unable to look his mentor in the eye.
Zayit put a firm hand on Motti’s shoulder. “There’s no shame in making an error in judgment,” he said. “The shame is ignoring it, or trying to rationalize. You sent Kalonymous to your brother’s house for what you thought were the best reasons. You couldn’t have known Kalonymous would bolt.”
“But I should have known!” said Motti, in grief. “He was wound so tightly, and I threw him into a new situation with no preparation at all. On some level I knew we were risking some sort of outburst. I… I just didn’t think he would run away.”
“Once he was certain his brothers were safe, he was set to erupt,” said Orna. “It’s human nature, and even though he’s so young, he is still very much human.”
“I believe that Kalonymous is resourceful and that he’ll come back, when he’s ready,” said Zayit. “But the little ones are in our care right now. They must be our main concern.”
To be continued . . .