Haim Lefkovic was a good man, but, Haim Lefkovic knew nothing.
‘Hymie!” cried his wife Rivka,“You know nothing! Nothing!!”
Hymie! What’s that in front of you?”
Hymie looked down at the bowl of soup in front of him and studied it as though it were an exam paper in ancient Greek.
“Yes, Hymie! It’s soup! But, what kind of soup Hymie? What kind of soup?”
Hymie watched Rivka’s mouth twist around the teeth her parents had never cared to fix.
Her eyes were now close to his. They were hard brown marbles that always shocked him with their lack of nuance or light.
In all their thirty years together, he’d never ceased to wonder at the dullness of her eyes.
It’s not that he hadn’t noticed when they first met. He had.
But, when he found himself face to face with her at his cousin’s 21st, just when they called for the boys to take the hand of the nearest girl and lead her to the dance floor, his heart went out to her.
Why? Because she had smiled. And her smile was crooked and her teeth were crooked and he knew that nobody else would have her, and so, in the end, he married her.
“What kind of soup, Hymie?”
Hymie dipped his spoon into the brew and slurped the soup.
“Oy! Nice soup! It’s chicken soup, Hymie! It’s…Friday night.”
And then, he saw. The candles on the table, the challah, the wine. And the empty chair next to his wife.
He put down his spoon.
“Eat!” she commanded.
“We should wait …for Ruchele.”
“Hymie! You …know …nothing! No-thing!”
And so, they played out their lives, till one evening, Hymie died.
He left his body on the bed; quietly packed up his bag of life, and stood in a queue at the gates of heaven.
A customs officer sat at the gate.
“Mr. Lefkovic, you can only take one thing with you from your bag of life. What will it be?”
Hymie opened the bag. But screeching through all the stuff of his life, was Rivka’s scorn:
“Hymie! You know nothing! Nothing!”
He closed his bag.
“I …I don’t know…I don’t know what to take.”
“O Mr. Lefkovic, then you’ll have to wait over there, till you do know.”
Haim Lefkovic waited outside the gates of heaven a long time.
In that time he saw people file past, each with their bag of life, some full, some heavy, some light, some… musical.
Then one day, Rivka. Crooked and bent under the weight of an enormously heavy bag.
Hymie had an epiphany.
He ran to the customs officer.
“I know! I know what to take!”
“Yes, Mr. Lefkovic?”
Hymie called out over all the heads of all the travelling souls, directly to his Rivka. “ I want, to take with me, to My Maker, a bowl of my Rivka’s chicken soup!”
Suddenly Rivka’s bag was weightless. She swung it to and fro, like a young girl.
The customs officer stamped Hymie’s passport and nodded.
Haim Lefkovic walked through the gates of heaven, carrying a bowl of his wife’s chicken soup.
Truth to tell, Haim Lefkovic had never cared much for chicken soup.
But, as the customs officer wrote in a memo to Immigration, “Never let it be said, that Haim Lefkovic, knew nothing.”