The Night the Rabbi Came for Supper
By Ted Roberts
I knew I was in trouble when I reached in the fridge
for a cold Pepsi
and pulled out a 2-foot salmon who still owned his
head and tail. Not
three days ago he had cruised up some gravelly
Northwest river looking
for a scaly version of Demi Moore. And it was in that
moment that the Kroger Company snagged him and
eventually sold him to
We only buy whole salmon when the Rabbi comes
by for supper.
That’s how I knew about the Rabbi. But there was
another clue, which I
had missed the day before.
Two female strangers entered our home with
mops and buckets and
a whole box full of spray bottles. They went from
room to room making
an incredibly obnoxious noise with a machine that
sounded like the
whirlwind that Elijah rode to heaven. (Maybe it was a
Then they hid all my possessions. Their final act
was to convert the
den floor into an ice hockey rink by applying a thick
layer of wax.
Evidently, everybody was briefed on the den floor
except me and the
cat. We went down hard.
And I also should have been suspicious when
my wife spent a
whole afternoon in the kitchen; which disrupted my
concentration on the
TV football game - chopping and blending and bubbling
punctuated by the
thud of the refrigerator door as it slammed shut. It
was like old
times - when she used to cook for her slender,
Were we in some time warp? Alarmed, I left a
game to dash to the kitchen.
After all, even a great chef like her, after
a 10-year vacation
in Provence, could forget to keep hands off burners
and fingers out of
blenders. Thankfully, she was unharmed and I gently
gave her a few
tips about operating the sink faucets and turning on
the big, boxy,
white appliance with four burners. “Yes, you can use
all four at
once,” I coached. She quickly got the hang of it.
then as she
experimentally turned dials, I lightly asked, “There’s
supper, right - that’s why you’re back in the
“Right,” she replied. “Would you show me how
to put cold water
in this pot so I can - is the word, ‘boil’ - these
potatoes.” It was a
poignant scene like when Pavlova returned to the
concert stage after
four years at the Bijou Burlesque. Or when Rembrandt
returned to his
palette after a summer of doing barns in the Dutch
Ah, the annual Rabbi visit; when women become
husbands turn into servants - fetchers of wood and
drawers of water, as
it is so elegantly phrased in Genesis.
I knew the score as soon as I met the dead
salmon in our
fridge. I confronted my mate:
“I can tell the Rabbi is coming because my
snacks in the fridge
have been replaced by a long, dead fish - right?”
She gulped and started to present some
outrageous mistruth, but
I bored in again. “And this morning I watched our cat
- normally a
nimble, agile, 4-footed creature do a slalom on the
den floor and crash
into the wall - you waxed the den floor, didn’t you?”
“OK, OK, OK,” she cried. “You’re too clever
for me. Yes, THE
RABBI IS COMING.” She was not herself. She was under
a strain. I
knew it the moment she let fly with our best Pesach
platter. She never
threw THAT platter. This was worse than I thought.
It was comfort
time. We hugged.
“It’s OK, it’s OK,” I murmured.
“There’s more,” she sobbed. “Much more, many
inviting four families from the synagogue.”
Aha, that was why all the pictures in the
foyer had been
removed and replaced by a 10-foot banner; “Welcome to
our Rabbi and
half of the Synagogue” it said.
That’s what I hated. The disruption. The
cat hates it, too.
The minute she sees the fleet of cars unloading at the
curb, she’s outa
here. She sleeps around the neighborhood for a few
nights and only
returns when she sniffs the remains of the salmon in
Of course, there’s leftovers for me, too.
About a week’s worth.
A huge problem unless you believe a 60-year old
adult male is properly
nourished on 21 meals of lime Jello , curried slaw,
and fish bones.
Every year I make the same constructive comment and
every year my
Jewish Martha Stewart objects; “Why not,” I suggest,
“place one of
those styrofoam takeout containers beside every place
setting at the
table. Let the guests take home leftovers so we can
resume our normal
diet after the festive meal. If not, me and the cat
are eating out.”
Ted Roberts kown as "The Scribbler on the Roof"
Website: www.wonderwordworks.com and
from the January 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine