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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Tova's Treasure
By Crista Darr


Reaching in my pocket, I grasp the hidden treasure while watching Papa kneel before the hearth. His strong, weathered hands place another log on the bed of glowing embers. Reaching for the iron poker, Papa stokes the kindling. The flames rise, wrapping their flickering fingers around the wood. Satisfied, Papa returns the poker to its stand.

“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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This article has been read 1059 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/01/07
Oh, how moving and beautiful! How hard it must be when a family is torn apart so--my heart aches for this family. You have a definite gift for putting us right there in the moment--this piece has a real immediacy to it, enhanced by the present tense. Wonderful!
Debbie OConnor02/01/07
Beautiful entry. I love the scene, the connection between father and daughter, the passion of the father as he relates the OT prophecies to Jesus, the Messiah in a desperate plea for his parents to hear. This piece lives. :-)
Joanne Sher 02/02/07
Amazingly vivid - your details are so clear. I was RIGHT THERE. So real-to-life and believeable. Wonderful tale. I agree - the present tense gives this such a wonderful immediacy!
Phyllis Inniss02/03/07
Great entry. Hope the grandparents can find a way back into the family.
Pat Guy 02/04/07
Oh my ... what a glimpse into such sacrifice of heart. I could feel each intense moment buffered by the innocense of the precious little girl. I loved the atmosphere, POV, the feeling of being right there - just everything. I LOVED this entry.
Sally Hanan02/05/07
Beautifully written, and very inspiring.
Cheri Hardaway 02/05/07
So incredibly beautiful! I was momentarily confused as to exactly who each character was to the other, but it came clear in the end. This piece couldn't have been written any other way than in the present tense. As so many have commented already, using the present tense puts your reader right there in the scene. I could feel the emotions, the passion for the Lord. Just a wonderful piece! I see this in the winner's circle. Blessings, Cheri
Sara Harricharan 02/05/07
This was like looking through a window and into another world. The characters were so vivid and the message just as true! I liked the interaction between Papa and Tova. :)
Suzanne R02/05/07
You've vividly brought to life the main characters and the emotions that charged the room. Well done.
Donna Powers 02/06/07
Absolutely lovely and I so enjoyed this. Your description brought us right into the scene and the emotions seemed so real. Just wonderful! Thanks for sharing this
Venice Kichura02/06/07
You've captured emotions masterfully as if we felt we were there. Great job!
Birdie Courtright02/23/07
Oh, Crista! This is amazing. The characters come alive and I could see and feel the tension rising in the room as 'Yehshua' was spoken--I was holding my breath as he forcefully continued the witness, knowing the risk. The ring was a powerful statement. Wonderful!