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The Promised Child

"Don't you think I know that, Mendel? I can hear you pacing
back and forth all the way to the kitchen. Tell me, Mendel, why
are you so on edge? We've waited so long. What do another few
days matter?"

Reb Mendel rose and went to the window. The rains were
like a misty mantle draped over the entire valley. For a few long
moments he looked out the window in silence. Then he thrust his
hands into the pockets of his long black caftan and turned to his

"You know how much it means to me to have children. Oh,
of course, I know that everyone wants and needs children. But to
me it also means something else. My father and my grandfathers,
for six generations back, have served as the Rabbonim of
Pulichev. My greatgrandfather, Reb Shloime Pulichever, after
whom my father was named, was a talmid of Reb Moshe Iserles,
the R'ma. Will it all stop with me? I do not have any brothers or
sisters. My father's only sister is married to Reb Yom Tov Luria of
Wielkowicz. They are older people, and they have no children
either. I am the only one left in my family. Am I to be the last

"I know that these things have been bothering you, Mendel,"
she said quietly. "They have been bothering me too. For a long
time. But why are these thoughts preying on your mind right
now, just when we're preparing to go to Krakow, just wrhen we've
found new hope? Is it the rains? They'll let up soon enough. And if
they don't," she added in a softly reassuring voice, "we'll go in the

Reb Mendel shook his head.

"I wish it were as simple as that," he said. "Many times I asked
myself why we weren't blessed with children. Why are we less
deserving than other people? You are such a special person, so
kind and goodhearted, never thinking of yourself before others.
How could your prayers be refused? Surely for your sake we
should have had a child."

"Mendel, stop it," the Rebbetzin protested. "Please don't
belittle yourself. There may have been some reason that Hashem
didn't want to give us children till now, and there was just
nothing we could have done about it."

"And you are saying that now it may be different?" asked Reb

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