Ah, Arad. Everyone has a story here.
"Did you forget about me?" asked a voice plaintively. My cell phone practically vibrated with pathos as I was riding home on the bus from Beersheva.
"Of course not!" I quickly replied, having NO idea who it was.
"This is (garble garble) from the curtain store. You need to pick up the curtain rods. I have no room for them here." The heavy Russian accent blurred his name, but I remembered him. Naftali had come with me to the little square of stores near the souk so I could get curtain rods. The house has been looking a little naked lately, and it is time to remedy that.
The man at the store was an old Russian man -- 80, to be exact -- a survivor of the Holocaust and some horrible family traumas as well, which he proceeded to share with us, tears in his eyes. He was angry at Naftali for praising men who learn Torah all day, rather than work at regular jobs. (Naftali recently survived an attempt on his life so he has been leaning toward the holy side of late.)
"My grandmother of blessed memory, worked till her nose dropped off." He pantomimed the action for us. "Her husband, my grandfather, sat there and learned Torah, never worked a day in his life, never earned a single piaster of his own, never ate even one crumb of bread he earned himself. My grandmother raised 14 children and worked till she died. Her husband sat there. And learned. And learned." The tears threatened to rush.
"G-d forgive me, but I do not forgive him. Not now, not ever. What he did to my grandmother was unforgiveable. And her son, my father, remembered it all. When he grew up, he worked very hard to support us all, my mother too. He was a great man."
Naftali tried to cut in, but fortunately, the man ignored him. I was relieved; I wanted to kick him to make him shut up. He had no idea what he was about to mess with here, and I had no way to explain it to him -- even if I could have gotten him to understand, which I wasn't sure I could.
"When I grew up and got married, I also worked. I started this store and worked all my life to support my family too. That is how it should be. A man should support his family, not make his wife work so hard%