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The Hand of Divine Justice
By Therese Dvir © 2008
Days follow days, seasons and years turn like a demented carousel, bringing with them their portion of misery and happiness, short moments of extreme elation, or dreadful sorrow until a life ends and another one springs up. The creator surely inserted these complete contrasts into each one's life span. But for what purpose? Was it to challenge us, to stir us up to take action when facing the various stages and aspects of our daily existence?
The Marcianos lived in comparative comfort, but their hearts were divided between outrage at Solomon and keen affection for him. They desperately wanted to bridge the gap with their son, but the sequence of events started long before his birth could not be undone, and the offense against them by the son they loved so dearly had been too great. He didn't ask for forgiveness, and so the parents resisted their own impulses to absolve him. What was Miriam's excuse in all this after Solomon had demonstrated his love and affection by rescuing them from poverty? Did she fear opposing Mardoché, in which case she was a moral coward; or is that too harsh a judgment about someone who had a marriage to defend? What is wrong with people?
In the end, Mardoché had to be told the truth about the financial arrangement and, as expected, the anticipated eruption occurred. When things settled down a bit and he could see reason, he was forced to accept the situation as a 'fait accompli'. Most of the money had been invested in the business and couldn't be recovered without sale of their livelihood. Then where would they be? They still had other children to educate. So they had to accept the situation as it stood, but their terrible hurt and animosity wasn't relieved, at least not the father's.
David finally graduated and became a doctor, while the twins both followed the religious path and became rabbis. Mercedes gave birth in quick succession to two girls and two boys after her firstborn, André. The extended family grew and strengthened its internal ties. Saturdays at the grandparents' house were an event, and the place brimmed over with happy people and children's laughter. Etienne adhered to the precepts of his new religion and was seen with his three sons attending the synagogue every Saturday morning. Mardoché and Miriam seemed blessed with a good life together and a happy and large family. Yet they had not achieved peace in their souls. They wept bitter tears when they were alone. They pined for Solomon, who had been banished from the family.
At David's wedding, Mardoché had his first health scare that struck at him in the middle of the preparation for the ceremony. David diagnosed the condition as a heart attack and recommended rest and treatment. One would think that with two doctors in the family there was sufficient medical help to treat his problem, but the damage done to his heart was beyond their joint capacity to repair. All their efforts could only delay his death, not prevent it. For several weeks he lingered. Finally, Solomon was summoned to his father's side.
The meeting between father and son was the most poignant and sorrowful moment in all their lives. Solomon stood at the door to his father's bedroom; Miriam was sitting at her husband's bedside, silent and solemnly grave, while the other children prayed in the adjacent room. Mercedes busied herself in the preparation of tea and coffee for the guests as a way of controlling her emotions.
"Solomon is here," whispered Miriam in Mardoché's ear.
The old man opened his eyes and joy immediately covered his features, much like the breath of earth when rain finally falls in its dry cracks.
"Solomon, my son, oh, my beloved son. Please come closer."
"Papa," Solomon, almost shouted, in tears; while kneeling beside his father's bed. "Papa please, forgive me! Can you?"
"Forgive you for what? For the many wonderful years we shared together, for the obedient and loving son you were, and are even to this day? Oh, I always knew that the money Etienne lent me was yours. I was selfish and arrogant. I refused to accept a reality imposed on you and me. I refused to show compassion as you did by staying at your grandmother's side when her health was gone. My dear son, life is paved with mistakes and misunderstandings under the umbrella of stupidity, useless pride, and lack of indulgence. I realized today that I was so wrong, and I need you also to forgive me."
"No, father. I have nothing to forgive you for. You were the pillar of my childhood. At your side I learned so much and became what I am today. It was a long and strenuous journey, but you never failed me. It was me who was momentarily dazzled by the glamour of rich society. I had to learn that richness comes from the heart and not from earthly material possessions. But, I matured quickly and promised myself to come to you and ask for your pardon. Please father, grant me your blessing."
"Come close, my son, I know that death is holding me tight in its grip and that soon I shall join our creator. I remember saying once, under a furious wrath, that you'll never get the firstborn benediction from me. I am so sorry for the promise I made. It was wrong and, today, despite my pledge and in front of us all here, I want to bless you as my firstborn."
Solomon bowed his head onto his father's chest. Mardoché kissed his son's wild hair, while murmuring his prayers. Solomon grabbed at the old man's hands desperately which he kissed and drenched with a flood of tears. The relatives and family there could almost swear that an angel had flown into the room, filling it with warmth, love, and tender mercy. No one in the room could avoid crying at the poignancy of it all.
Before he passed away, Mardoché made a special demand of Solomon,
"When I die, please take my remains to Israel and bury them there. Promise me that right now," he said breathlessly.
"I promise father. Please be calm. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you, you know that," the young man said.
"Thank you my son," cried Mardoché, deeply moved by Solomon's immediate reply.
Mardoché died a few days later, calm and serene like a gentle summer breeze that passes over us, leaving behind a scent of peaceful fulfillment. All mourned for the well-loved man. Solomon made the arrangements to fly his father's body to the Holy Land where he arranged for the burial in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
"Why would a man like Mardoché choose to be buried so far away from his beloved wife, children, and grandchildren?" asked Mercedes.
"Look beneath the surface and see what his main target was," replied Solomon. "This is his way of guiding us to our homeland, Israel," he calmly responded.
Excerpted from the book "The Hand of Divine Justice" Copies may be ordered by
visiting the website: www.BarnhardtAshePublishing.com or by phone at 800-283-6360.
Barnhardt & Ashe,
Suite 51, PMB 432; 444 Brickell Avenue,
Miami, Florida 33131, U.S.A. Vist the author's website:
from the November 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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