The Daf on the Bus, Again

I am on the bus with my double stroller, trying to keep the twins calm. Liav is eating a baguette, strewing crumbs all over her fleece, the stroller, and the floor beneath. Tagel is inexplicably screaming “bubbles,” her favorite activity, but as far as I can tell there are no bubbles in sight and I have no idea how to console her. I hand her a ball. She throws it on the floor angrily, it rolls to the front of the bus, and she sobs louder. I offer her a piece of baguette. She throws this too. I take a sip of my water, unsure what to do next. Tagel starts yelling, “Mayim, mayim,” insisting on holding my bottle. I hand it to her, knowing that she will object if I try to screw the cap back on. Predictably, she spills it all over herself and her sister. Tagel bursts out laughing, but now Liav is shrieking. I reach into my bag for a dry washcloth, and the man sitting across the aisle from me—a religious man with an open Gemara—kindly offers to hold the stroller so I can have two free hands. I look at the top margin of his Gemara and sure enough, he is learning the sixth chapter of Yevamot, which I started last night. Looks like he’s up to the case of the man who is just about to have sex with his wife on a rooftop when suddenly he rolls over, falls off the roof, and lands in the waiting arms of his brother’s childless widow, penetrating her. I wonder if I should spare him all the rabbinic deliberations and just summarize the Talmud’s conclusion: “The bottom line,” I’d tell him, “Is that it all counts. Intentional or unintentional, voluntarily or by force. It’s all the same.” But this man is still holding onto my stroller for me, and so for the sake of my daughters I wisely bite my tongue. I wipe off the girls’ dresses and make out why Liav is screaming – she wants her pacifier. Oh well, so much for trying to wean her off it – in light of the glares from my fellow passengers, I give in. Liav sucks away contentedly, and Tagel amuses herself by alternately crying out “egg” and “moon” while pointing excitedly to the first page of the Very Hungry Caterpillar board book. Both girls are relatively calm. I am about to sit down when a religious woman, her hair and every inch of her body covered, taps me on the shoulder and motions that she wants to whisper something in my ear. I lean in, my mind already racing: What parenting blunder have I committed now? What did I do that this mother of eleven-or-so kids sees fit to censure me? The woman whispers, “Excuse me, when you bend down, I can see your….” I thank her, not even bothering to adjust my pants. Yes, I should tuck in my shirt. But as far as I know, there is no one about to roll off the roof of the bus. And besides, there is no time – the girls are crying again.

4 thoughts on “The Daf on the Bus, Again

  1. Avi says:

    I wish you would blog more. I look forward to reading each of your entries – your writing style is so pleasant, so easy to read and expereince what you write.

    Like

  2. Maggie Anton says:

    Intention [or lack of it] is a very serious matter for the Rabbis. Consistency, however, is of less importance. Each situation calls for its own discussion.

    Keep up the good work. I too wish you would blog more often, but with 3 kids under 3, I'm thankful for what you do. Happy Hanukah.

    Like

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