Victory Gardens – Chapter 107


Zayit receives a message from Manny inviting him and his wife to spend Shabbat with the Rothsteins in Jerusalem. Zayit declines, but pays Manny a visit while in Yerushalayim to pick up medication for his wife.


“Manny?” Esther’s voice whinnied out of her room like a high breeze blowing through the air.

“Ah, your wife is here?” said Zayit, puzzled.

“Yes, she is.” Manny was being circumspect and Zayit did not know why.

“Manny, can you come a minute?”

“Certainly. I’ll be right there. Excuse me,” he said, turning to Zayit. “I’ll be back momentarily.”

“Take your time,” said Zayit.

Manny entered the room where Esther was and saw that her face was paler than usual.

“Manny, my leg seems swollen.”

Afraid to react with the alarm he felt, Manny tried to minimize the fear that was taking hold of him.

“Maybe I’ll go over to Shaarei Zedek and call the Shwester.”

“You think I need a nurse? Is something bad happening, Manny? I can’t even tell anymore what’s a problem and what’s not,” said Esther.

“I believe you  should receive medical treatment, Esther, I won’t lie to you. Oh, you know what? Mr. Zayit is here with his wagon. Perhaps he can drive me over.”

“Since when do we take favors from people?” said Esther, peevishly. “Can’t you walk?”
“I could, but I want to get to the Shwester right away. Don’t worry, everything will be fine, b’ezras Hashem.”

He stepped out of the room and approached Zayit. “Pardon me, Reb Shlomo, if I could impose upon you to drive me over to the Shaarei Zedek hospital? My wife seems to be in some distress.”

“Certainly,” said Zayit. “When will she be ready?”

“I need to call the Schwester. My wife must remain home.”

“She is very ill?” he asked, with an expression of concern.

Manny tried to be terse without being rude. “I just need to call the Schwester and bring her back here. I’m no doctor, but I think her blood pressure may be rising to a dangerous level.”

“Blood pressure?” asked Zayit, the words of the pharmacist ringing in his ears.

“I’m sorry Reb Manny, you’ll forgive me for my forwardness. Is your wife perhaps…?”

“Yes, she is,” said Manny, admiring Zayit’s modesty.

“Well, first of all, b’sorot tovot,” he said. “I’ve just been to the Oplatka pharmacy and it so happens I have here in my pocket a remedy for high blood pressure. He said the condition requires immediate care, and this will alleviate the danger.” He took the small bottle of tincture from his coat and handed it to Manny.

“What did you need it for?” said Manny carelessly, not really considering the ramifications of his question, and only realizing he’d asked too personal a question when Zayit’s face changed shades.

“You, too?” asked Manny, and Zayit nodded.

Baruch Hashem. No tefillah goes unanswered. I’ve been praying for your family since shortly after we met. I was so grateful to you for taking care of my brother that I thought it the least I could do.”

“And I will say likewise, that I have been praying for you.”

The two men beamed, each suffused with joy both for his own good fortune and that of the other one, but they quickly turned their thoughts back to the situation at hand. “Did Mr. Oplatka tell you how to use this?” said Manny, holding up the small, tinted bottle.

“Certainly.” He quickly gave Manny instructions and he prepared the tincture and hurried in to administer it to Esther.

“Here Esther,” he said, handing her the glass with water and the drops mixed in. “Take this. It will help.”

“What is it?”

“I’m not sure. Mr. Zayit had it on hand. He said it would be helpful.”

“Why would he happen to have such a remedy?” said Esther, swallowing the bitter mixture.

Manny didn’t know how to respond, not sure he had permission to tell Esther.

Luckily, she guessed right away. “Are they … b’shaah tovah?”

Manny could not suppress his smile, and Esther’s face lit up as well.

“That’s the best news I’ve heard all day. All week! But Manny, I don’t want to be alone now,” she said. “I’m too nervous. Please don’t leave.”

“But I must call the Shwester… all right, let me see if Mr. Zayit is willing to go without me.”

“Thank you so much,” said Esther, picking up her Tehillim and saying Mizmor L’Todah with deep concentration and joy. Hashem works in such mysterious ways, she thought.

Meanwhile Manny was conferring with Zayit, who agreed immediately to ride over to Shaarei Zedek to fetch Schwester Selma.

“What if she isn’t available right away and you need to wait?” said Manny.

“Then I’ll wait,” said Zayit. “Yehudim have waited thousands of years for the Geulah. Zayit can wait, too.”

“Thank you ever so much,” said Manny. A strange feeling came over him, one he hadn’t felt perhaps since childhood. It took him a moment to identify it, it had been so long. “You’re a true friend,” he said quietly.

“Thank you,” said Zayit. And he walked quietly out of the house. 

To be continued . . .