One I Can Handle, Not Two…Not Three

Friday afternoon, about an hour before Shabbat, I was finishing things up in the kitchen. Chaim was to arrive soon. Shmulik was out delivering some food to neighbors where we would be eating lunch. It was winding down towards Shabbat.

Elie came running down the stair and called out, “fire in a building in 03,” and went running out the door. I watched him jump into the car, slam the red light on to the top of the car, and peel out and zoom up the hill. I stood for a second, not more, and then my phone rang. I grabbed it. It was Shmulik, “tell Elie there’s a fire in 03 and he should come.”

“He’s on his way,” I told Shmulik, “are you going too?”

“Yes,” he said.

I can handle one, I thought as I stood there, not sure what to do. I can’t handle two. My peace was gone. I wasn’t sure what was left to do. I don’t have a television any more and even if I did, it is too soon to be on the news. Nothing on the Internet. Two sons. Fire. A building. I could hear a siren in the distance. It did nothing to calm me.

I called Amira. She was on the way to spend Shabbat with friends. She calmly explained to me what I knew already, but needed to hear. The fire department won’t let the ambulance crews into the fire. They will bring any injured out. The ambulance people are trained. The goal is to treat those who are hurt, not get others injured.

I thought of Chaim. He was on a bus to our house. We tell him to grab any bus that comes to our city. Five or six come this way, but only one comes all the way to our neighborhood and so we often pick him up in the front of the city.

I called him up and asked where he was. He had just gotten into Maale Adumim.

“There’s a fire in a building in 03,” I told him. 03 is a neighborhood near the front of the city. “Elie and Shmulik both went there. Do you want me to come pick you up?”

“Let me call them and see if they need help. I’ll call you back.” And then the thought. Great. Just great. I can’t handle Elie and Shmulik at the same time, now Chaim too? Are they trying to kill me?

Chaim called me back, “the fire is out. Everything’s fine. Elie’s coming to get me now. See you soon.”

So they came home. It looked worse than it was. Two dumb kids smoking something between two buildings set the trees on fire and it went up fast and big and looked like it was going to catch the buildings but everyone is fine.

One…two…three – no, that I can’t handle. But don’t try to tell them that – they are enthralled at the chance to help, the excitement of the moment.

2 Comments on One I Can Handle, Not Two…Not Three

  1. As I read your post I was, of course, reminded of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” — a story about a search for a soldier that came about as a result of a law enacted in the US that we do not allow siblings to fight in the same war, we do not allow the loss of more than one child to a family in a war. Of course, there are many cracks for this to fall through.

    And I know, from what you have written, that even though, you “can’t handle three” — you are VERY PROUD of your sons, as you well should be.

    G-d Bless You!!


  2. Breath, mama. These are capable, intelligent (young) men. They are very disciplined and well-trained. They are not going to run into a burning building on a whim. They have a plan and usually they have back-up. Breath, mama…

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