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Sample Entry

JUST SAY “YES!”

By Yaacov Peterseil

            “H…Hello, Moshe,” Tziporah said, interrupting her husband who was talking to the Elders in the back of the tent. “Oh, I’m sorry. Your guard said I could enter. I –“
            “Hello, Tziporah.” Moshe looked up and then nodded to those around him. They bowed and swiftly left. “It's good to see you,” Moshe told his wife.
            “It's good to see you too,” she echoed, moving across the half-empty tent. “Who would have thought –“
            “Yes. So much has happened,” Moshe said, a forced smile stretching his lips. He hadn’t seen Tziporah, or their two sons, for over a year, ever since he had gone from Midian toEgyptto free the Israeli slaves.
            “You've always had a talent for understatement,” she said.
            Moshe blushed. Tziporah knew her husband was uncomfortable but she was determined to close the barrier between them.
            “I mean it wasn't like I did all that much,” Moshe said. “Things get exaggerated. Of course, a great deal happened. But God made it all happen. I just acted as the messenger. Just the messenger.” Tziporah saw he still had that habit of tapping on anything within his reach when he was nervous and he was tapping quietly on his staff as he talked. It never used to bother her. It did now.
            “Of course. Though I remember when you didn’t want to be a messenger,” she reminded him, “when you just wanted to be left alone. To stay with your flocks. To stay with us.”
            “That seems like eons ago.”
            “It’s not so long ago. They say that when you love someone, that person never really leaves you, and yet being apart seems almost unbearable.”  
            “That sounds true.”
            “How do you feel about what's happened?”
            “I feel like God has been speaking to me forever.”
            “I feel like I haven't spoken to you, forever.”
            The grey of Moshe’s eyes turned a lucid black and he stood even straighter than his six foot four frame. “Have I ever not been a messenger of God?” he asked himself.
            Tziporah heard the incessant silent tapping on the staff. It sounded like nails being hammered into a coffin. “Moshe, look at me,” she ordered, forcing him to focus on her face. Slowly, against his will, his eyes fixed on hers. Immediately, she lowered her gaze.
            “Have you heard me at all?” she asked, wondering why she couldn’t look up.
            “Of course.”
            “Didn't you miss me?” she asked.
            “Miss you? Tziporah, of course I missed you. It’s just…so much has happened.”
            “So you've said. But I'm more interested in what hasn't happened.”
            “I don't understand?” Moshe removed his gaze and stared behind her, as though waiting to be saved by his guards.
            The pressure removed, she looked up. “God you understand. Me, you don't?”       “God speaks through me. I hear him from the depths of my soul.”
            “And from where do you hear me, Moshe? Is there no room in that soul of yours for me? Has God taken all the space?”  
            Moshe wondered if her words constituted blasphemy. God is space. There is no space without God.
            “It's not fair. I can't compete with God,” she whined, not recognizing her voice.
            Tziporah remembered her father, Yitro, warning her before they left Midian.  “Your Moshe is a holy man. He is filled, from top to bottom, with his God. Even I, The High Priest of Midian, do not spend all my waking hours serving our gods.”
            Moshe sensed her thoughts. Even after such a long time he could still hear what she was thinking.
            “Loving god is unlike any human bond,” he said, using the words he had spoken to his students many times. “It's like being under water and yet being able to breathe. It surrounds you. It engulfs you. It –“
            “Smothers, and chokes, and leaves no room for anything else!”
            In the silence that followed, Tziporah realized she had lost him.
            “Moshe, when my father told me we were coming back to you, I was so excited. All I could talk about; all I did talk about to our children, to anyone who would hear me, was how fortunate we, your family, were to be going back to you…. What did you feel when you heard we were coming?”
            Tziporah knew that this was the wrong tact to take with her husband. He could not be bullied. But her pride meant nothing to her.
            “Moshe, the Exodus fromEgypt, even with its plagues and the splitting of the red sea, all occurred within one short year. One year, Moshe. But what about the years we had together? The miracles are all gone now, but I'm still here.”
            The tears that flowed freely seemed alien to her face. They would not heed her demand to stop.
            “I know. I owe you so much. I owe you my life.” Moshe said these words without emotion; as a fact, a declaration, acknowledged and filed away.
            “I don’t want your life!” she screamed. “I want it back. Your love. I want us to be a family again.”
            Moshe answered with silence.
            “Why do I feel like I'm talking to a mountain? A silent, heartless mountain.”
            Tziporah felt faint. She leaned against a nearby table. Moshe made as though to steady her but then moved away when he saw she had steadied herself.
            Moshe’s eyes softened. “Tziporah, I’m glad you're here. I am. And I'm glad our children are with me. But even though it’s been little more than a year to you, for me it's been a lifetime. How can I make you understand? Being a messenger of God is not a part time job; it's not herding sheep during the day and taking care of my family in the evening. It never ends. In the beginning, I felt the adrenalin pouring through me as God's essence spoke through my throat, his all-encompassing presence guiding me, strange and unbelievable experiences overwhelming me. At first I wanted to run away from it. The Feeling. It was greater than I. It was too overwhelming. But after a while I craved it. Like an addict I sought it out. I craved it more than I craved anything in the world. I woke up from my fitful sleep waiting, waiting to be called by God. Waiting to be his abject servant –“
            “So where does that leave me? Us? Should I go back with my father?”
            “No,” Moshe answered, allowing his anger at himself to seep through. “I want you here. By my side.”
            “And our children?”
            “Of course I want them here too.”
            “But Moshe, when we were in my father's house, I would talk of all the wonderful things they would do when they returned to their father. I bragged about what a leader their father was. Of how they would one day take on this mantle of leadership. Moshe, when we were in Midian, surrounded by idol worship, we kept our faith because we knew you were waiting for us. That's what we thought. But in all that time you didn't even think of us, did you.”
            “Tziporah, a great deal –“
            “I know ‘a great deal has happened’, but Moshe, none of that has happened to us! We are as we were. In love with you. We didn't come here because of the miracles or the battles or the laws of God. We came here only for you. And if you don't want us, say so, so we can leave.
            “No, you can't leave. You're part of the Jewish people.”
            “Three more souls saved. Is that it?”
            “You belong here.”
            A damn broke deep inside of Tziporah as she shouted “I BELONG WITH MY HUSBAND!” Then, trancelike, she moved forward pounding on her husband’s chest. “Let me in! Let me see him!"
            Without touching her, Moshe made her stop.
            “Tziporah, this is not of my choosing,” he confided.
            At last, the opening she had waited for. “God gives us choices, Moshe. You said so many times. We choose whether to believe in God, whether to do His bidding, whether to let Him take us over. Completely.”
            “But once He has taken us, what choices do we have left? A messenger has but one task: to complete his mission."
            “And then?”
            He had no answer. None she would understand.
            “And then? Do we get you back then? Come on Moshe, give me some hope!”
            “When I was up on the mountain I learned about angels.”
            “What has that got to do with you and me?”
            “I learned what happens to angels when they complete their mission."
            “They receive a new mission?”
            “They cease to be.”
            “What are you talking about?  Stop this nonsense," she said, readying her last argument. “Tell me you don't love me and let me go back to a life I can understand. Maybe I can start again.”
            “You can. Here. With us. Be part of our future. Of my future. “
            “And will we be man and wife again?”
            Tap…tap…tap…. That terrible tapping blasted her ears.
            ”I said, will we be man and wife again? Just say yes, and I don't care if you mean it or not. Just say yes! At least give me that choice.”
            “Yes,” Moshe obeyed because he had no choice.
            “Good. Then I chose to stay. Now let me get the boys. They'll want to get reacquainted with their father. And this tent needs a good dusting, and where do you keep the Manna everyone is always talking about? How do you prepare it?
            “And…and…” She forced herself to looks into those godly grey eyes. “Where is my Moshe?”

  

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