The Tarantula at my Front Door
This Shabbat morning I took 22-month-old Yaakov outside, by the front door, to change his diaper. But when I looked towards the door, I saw something strange on the door frame. Furry black lines.
Eemale, please don’t let them be legs.
When the diaper was done, I stood up to get a closer look, and saw that it was in fact…eemale! A dead tarantula. Which must have been crawling into our house the night before when someone slammed the door on him. If that person, I realized, had slammed the door shut a second earlier or a second later, we would have had a tarantula crawling around our…EEMALE!
I immediately remembered Rabbi Akiva’s daughter– destined to die the night before her wedding, but ended up, miraculously, stabbing the poisonous snake meant to kill her when she stuck her hairpin into the wall before she went to sleep.
What an amazing miracle. A freaky instance of Divine providence. A hug from Hashem. He loves me. Is watching out for me and my family. Is carrying me on His shoulders over the bumpiest trails of life.
Later that morning 4-year-old Yaakov disappeared. 9-year-old Yoel told us he remembered seeing Yaakov playing next to the shul with his friend from gan– was his name Yehuda?
Oh yes, the famous Yehuda. Yaakov had been telling me for days that he wants to go to Yehuda’s house to play. Only Yehuda, Yehuda, Yehuda. But I didn’t know who Yehuda was, or who his parents were, or where they lived.
So it looked like Yaakov had taken things into his own hands, and gone to Yehuda’s house to play–solo.
I went out to the street to search for Yehuda’s family, when I saw Yaakov and (I assumed) Yehuda and Yehuda’s father heading my way. Yehuda’s father said to me in English, “Oh, I know your husband from shul. He told me you are from Baltimore. Where from?”
“From Mt. Washington.”
“Oh right, I am from Pikesville. On Thanksgiving we used to go down to the Mt. Washington Tavern to drink a few beers.”
“You’re a baal teshuva?”
“Where’d you go to high school?”
“Really? I went to Friends School!”
Two frum Jews discussing their Christian prep schools…
Alongside their Yiddishe 4-year-olds with kippahs and curly peyos…
The holiness of Shabbos permeating the air…
In the eternal city, Yerushalayim Ihr HaKodesh.
I told Yehuda’s father, “Can you believe we’re here?”
He shook his head in wonder, “No, I can’t. To this day, I can’t get over it. The zchut to be living this life.”
And for the second time that day I felt Hashem’s embrace.
Because every day, even when I don’t discover a dead tarantula in my doorframe, the reality of this life, my life, our lives, is a mind-boggling kindness. A neverending miracle.