Breindl tells Yehudah about her family’s hard life in America and how Esther rescued them. She want Yehudah to understand that he is a wanted part of the family. Later, she and Motti discuss sending tickets to bring Berl and Fisch from Denmark to Palestine. They will not tell the boys, but Yehuda, who overhears, does not feel bound by this.
* * *
Motti traveled to Yerushalayim the following day, determined to make good on his decision. He spent the time driving in his wagon in deep prayer, hoping that he was doing the right thing – the best thing – for the boys.
He invited himself to stay with his brother until all the arrangements were made, claiming that a visit to Mama and Papa was long overdue, but it didn’t stop his heart from pounding. His life was getting too big for him. He had believed, once, that settling in Eretz Yisrael would be the defining moment in his life, and it was, for a long time. But this: first the Sperlings and now the mythological brothers coming to life; the water was rising over his head. He’d have to struggle to remain afloat.
He arrived in Yerushalayim exhausted but resolved. He went to the telegram office first and sent off the first missives: SENDING SHIFFSKARTEN FOR ROSENBERG BROTHERS. DETAILS TO FOLLOW. M. ROTHSTEIN.
At Emanuel’s house, Motti was greeted with open arms by his brother and sister-in-law. Papa and Mama were already seated at the dining room table, an impressive repast – not lunch and not dinner; Esther had adapted the ritual English tea to conform to their heimishe habits – spread out before them. Papa and Mama, creatures of habit, were genially sipping coffee and chatting, still good friends after many years of marriage. Their faces lit up when Motti entered the room. Despite their enormous love for and gratitude to their oldest son, there was nothing like the sight of their muzhinke to warm their elderly hearts.
“Mutteleh!” Mama cried happily. She rose slightly then quickly sat back down, aware, again, of her advancing age, and Motti came over to where she sat and kissed her tenderly on her wrinkled cheek.
“Hello, Mama. It’s been too long.”
Mama nodded, but refused to let her yearning get in the way of her happiness at the sight of her son.
“Papa,” he said next, unashamedly kissing his father as well.
“Ephraim Mordechai! It’s about time you paid your mother a visit.” Motti knew this was his way of offering a warm greeting, and he accepted it happily.
“Sit down, Motti,” said Emanuel. “Make a brachah.”
Motti hadn’t revealed the reason for his visit and Emanuel hadn’t asked, but he was certain it had something to do with the Sperlings. He wondered if Motti had come looking for Kalonymous, and what he would say if Motti questioned him directly. He’d kept his visit with Reb Leib to himself until now, uncertain when and if the time would be right to seek out Kalonymous once again. He’d go today, he concluded, while Motti was in Yerushalayim, and see if he’d receive a different response.
The day got away from him though, as he enjoyed the rare occasion of sitting with his parents and his brother. The talk was filled with memories and laughter, and Emanuel didn’t remember a time he’d felt so good. It was this desire to hold on to these feelings that sent the time slipping through his fingers even as he watched it go.
It was only later on, after Mama and Papa had been escorted lovingly to their rooms, that the two brothers retired to Emanuel’s library. Esther bustled in with plates of strudel she’d learned to prepare under Mama’s tutelage and which she knew the brothers enjoyed. Mama didn’t bake much these days, and it was a taste of home for them. Emanuel poured them each some brandy and they made a heartfelt l’chaim.
“So, brother,” said Emanuel. “I know you said you were coming to visit Mama and Papa, and they were thrilled to see you, but I suspect there is something else lurking behind that wide forehead of yours.” They both chuckled as Emanuel referred to the source of endless teasing when the two of them were younger. “What’s going on?” He held his breath, hoping that his brother hadn’t noticed the date on the telegram.
Motti sighed. “What else?”
“More clouds on the horizon?” said Emanuel.
“Define ‘clouds,’” Motti replied. “Is the imminent arrival of Berl and Fisch considered clouds?”
Emanuel nodded sympathetically. “It’s hard to say,” he replied.
“You saw the telegram. They’re both alive. I can’t turn my back on them,” said Motti. “And I need your help.”
“Of course,” said Emanuel. “I’ll give you the money right away.”
“Thank you, but no,” said Motti. “I’m going to do this myself. I just need your help with the logistics. I know you arranged tickets for the Sperlings.”
“Of course,” said Emanuel. “It’s no problem at all. We can take care of it tomorrow. Surely, though,” he added tentatively. “You will want to find Kalonymous and let him know.”
To be continued . . .