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We shmoozed some more, the ayin-hore lady and I, as the world continued to stream through her kitchen. She interrupted me, interrupted herself, totally unfazed by the chaos, the sheer bedlam. The woman was nothing if not haimish. Then she gave me a heartfelt blessing, and we said goodbye.
After I got off the phone, I felt elated, relieved. I wanted to call my mother to tell her everything. I felt closer to her and to my grandmother, as if I had claimed some long-denied part of myself. In fact, I felt better than I had in months.
Just as I was about to write the check, I got distracted. Tomorrow, I’d send it. The next day I wrote the check, but couldn’t find an envelope. The following week, more excuses kept cropping up. At some point it hit me that I didn’t want to pay her. True, I felt better, but I couldn’t believe that a woman busting lead bubbles in a kitchen sink in Jerusalem could’ve brought that about. I couldn’t believe I had succumbed to something so ridiculous. It occurred to me that not paying was a way of hiding from myself what I had consented to — something silly and irrational, something I’d sworn I’d never do. Paying made the episode too real. This way I could pretend it never happened.
But wouldn’t not keeping my word be its own form of ayin-hore? I have been a fool for love many times. Why couldn’t I let myself be a fool for this? Why couldn’t I just let myself be a fool?
And so I confessed to my husband and asked if he could mail the check for me. “Of course,” he said. “Anything to help get rid of the ayin-hore.”
Ruchama King Feuerman’s new novel, “In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist” (New York Review of Books), will be published this September, and can be pre-ordered online and on Amazon.