Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
TITLE: Tova's Treasure
By Crista Darr
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“Tova,” mother calls.
Papa turns and grins at me, his eyes dancing in the firelight. I rush to embrace him before returning to the kitchen.
The smell of freshly baked cheesecakes makes my tummy rumble. Trays of cheese-filled pastries line the counters.
Saba and Safta arrive with words of praise for mother’s cooking, and encouragement to Papa. It is a proud day for Saba, passing the Shavuot traditions to his first born son.
Papa stands before us, straightening his kippah atop his balding head. He lifts the Holy Book in his hands and opens to Ruth. In rich baritones, Papa reads. Saba nods his head in approval as Safta dabs tears from her eyes.
“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
Every face turns toward the sound of my giggle. Where you go, I will go. My hand slides back into my pocket, feeling past lint and coins for Papa’s treasure – a replica of the one he gave to mother a lifetime ago.
Papa resumes his reading, his voice rising and falling in a melodic cadence. Mother’s brow is furrowed as her eyes search for empty cups or dropped crumbs. Safta gazes at the walls, tracing the path of green vines mother hung for the occasion. Saba leans back in his chair puffing from his pipe and exhaling little curls of smoke.
I turn away from them to study the creases in Papa’s face and the shape of his mouth as he speaks.
Papa looks up. His eyes lock with mine as he recites the next line, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter.”
This time we both giggle. Saba frowns at this impropriety. Papa finishes the Book of Ruth and clears his throat, “On this day the Lord God of Israel thundered from Mount Sinai, imparting to us His holy Law, carved on tablets of granite from his own finger.”
Papa opens the Torah and Saba joins him in chanting the Ten Commandments. I imagine God’s voice, rumbling from the distant mountain.
“My family,” Papa concludes, “we are guilty.” A passion rises in his voice that startles his listeners, commanding their attention. “No man is able to keep this Law. We do not put the Lord first in our lives. We have dishonored our parents. We have told lies. We covet the things of others.”
Saba’s solemn look affirms his agreement.
Papa continues, “The day is coming when every man must stand before the holy and righteous Judge. Our God, because of His goodness, must punish sin.”
The room is silent, breathless.
“God’s love has made a way of escape for us. Jesus the Messiah – Yeshua Ha Moshiach has come to take our judgment.”
Saba drops his plate on the coffee table. His fork clatters to the floor.
Papa’s voice rises with urgency, “Isaiah saw Jesus as a Lamb, pierced for our transgressions.”
Saba stands to his feet, knocking his chair over.
“David said, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet.’ David was never pierced. He saw Jesus.”
Saba grabs Safta’s arm, pulling her to her feet.
“Father, please listen,” Papa pleads. “Zechariah saw Jesus when he prophesied, ‘Lord, what are these wounds in your hands?’”
“You are no longer our son!” Saba shouts.
Papa bows his head as his parents hurry toward the door. I pull the treasure from my pocket, clenching it in my fist.
Mother chases after my grandparents.
Papa looks at me, deep into my soul. His words have stirred my heart like kindling into flames. I run to him, stretching out my hand, the golden circle of the ring lying in my palm. Papa’s voice is soft as he reads its inscription, “Where you go, I will go.”
“Tova,” Papa cries as he slips the ring on his finger. He embraces me and echoes the benediction to Ruth, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter.”
*Bible references may be found in the following chapters: Ruth 1, Ruth 3, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Zechariah 13.
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