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Faith From Ashes

“Keshet!” a stern voice echoed down the small hallway. “Keshet! Get up. It is your sister’s wedding day. You cannot stay in bed the whole time. Get up.” Keshet, a seventeen-year-old girl, sat up slowly in bed, rubbing her eyes. “Keshet!” the voice became shrill. Keshet cringed as her mother stalked into the room and grabbed her wrist. “Keshet, get up.” She dragged her daughter out of bed. “Now, get dressed and get ready. It’s a special day for Libi. I cannot have my daughter absent from her younger sister’s wedding. Now come!” Malka stared her daughter down until Keshet gave way. “That’s my girl. Now get going!” Malka stalked out of the room, leaving Keshet alone.
Keshet stood in her room, slowly preparing for her sister’s wedding. She didn’t understand. Her mother and father favored Libi. Even in her name was she favored. Whereas Keshet simply meant “rainbow,” Libi meant “my heart.” Libi was the child that Malka and Eliyyahu gave everything to. They gave her more food. They gave her more clothes. They even found her a husband before they started looking for Keshet. In fact, Malka and Eliyyahu hadn’t started looking for Keshet yet, even though Libi was marrying that day. Keshet sighed, putting her hair back in the normal way. She wanted to do it otherwise, but she was unable, simply because that was not a privilege given her.
When Keshet entered the front room, she found her mother fussing over Libi. Keshet ignored them and went straight for the door. “Keshet, where are you going?” Malka demanded, hands on her hips. Keshet turned to face her mother, silent. “Keshet, you must stay to help with the final preparations. Your younger sisters and I can’t do it alone. And your father can’t help much, either. We shouldn’t ask your cousins and aunts, because they never asked for our help. You must help.”
Keshet sighed, “But, mother, I am one person. Surely, I can’t make that big of a difference.” She turned back to the door, but her mother’s shrill voice interrupted her path once more.
“Keshet! You are staying here and that is that. How could I let my eldest daughter roam the streets aimlessly, lazily, while her mother and sisters slave away in preparation for her sister’s wedding? It’s shameful!” Malka tsked. Once again, she grabbed her daughter’s wrist and pulled her back. “Now you stay and help!” Compliantly, Keshet sighed, for there was nothing she could do.
Later, when their mother left the room, Libi looked up at Keshet, her dark hair pulled to the top of her head, her dark eyes shimmering with happiness and excitement, her dark skin glowing with the same. “Keshet, my darling sister, why do you and mama never get along?” the fifteen-year-old girl asked. “You and she are always bickering and bantering. There’s never peace in the house when you two speak. Why is it so, Keshet? Why?” Her expression changed, now wrinkled with perplexity.
Keshet sat beside her sister with a sigh. She loved Libi. Truly, she did. It was the fact that she was favored by her parents over her that she didn’t like at all. She wrapped an arm around her sister, laying her head on Libi’s shoulder, and replied, “Libi, oh my sister Libi, I do not know. Mama and I… we just clash. I’ve wondered much about why it is that we do, yet nothing has come to mind. I wish it were not so.” She sighed, on the verge of tears. This was not how it was supposed to be. A mother and a daughter were supposed to be close, supposed to be happy, supposed to be friends. But Keshet and Malka just didn’t get along. It saddened Keshet’s heart very much.
Yardena, five, knelt beside Keshet, her head on Keshet’s knees. Closing her eyes, she sat there for a moment before saying, “Keshet, I believe I know.” Keshet and the other girls all looked at their littlest sister. At only five, Yardena had a deep connection with the LORD. Sometimes, she would even have deep insights that the older ones would not understand where she got them from. Keshet nodded to Yardena to go on. “I believe it is because mama loves Keshet. Mama sees Keshet’s potential. She wants the best for Keshet. She sees that Keshet can do more than we. She sees that Keshet is more independent. Mama sees the blessings in Keshet and wants to cultivate them. That’s why she’s hard on Keshet. It’s not because mama doesn’t like her. It’s because mama loves her very, very much.”
Keshet stared at Yardena. She couldn’t help it. Would her mother really be so harsh on her because she loved her very much? It seemed nonsensical to her. With a sigh, Keshet shook her head. She stood up. Picking up Yardena, Keshet kissed the top of her head. Yardena was such a sweetie. Keshet wished she could simply hold Yardena all day.
But then her mother showed up. “Keshet!” she yelled. “Put Yardena down. The wedding is in less than an hour. We must get going. Hurry! Hurry!” She clapped her hands, demanding all the girls to get up with a single motion. It worked. The sternness of Malka caused each of the girls to hop up and dash to help, except for Libi, whose job was to sit and look pretty, and Keshet, who was lost in thought. “Keshet!” Malka scolded again for the hundredth time that morning. “Keshet! Stop thinking and get working.” When Keshet didn’t respond, Malka slapped her across the face, leaving a red mark. “Keshet, I am talking to you.”
Keshet turned away from her mother, tears boiling behind her eyes. At first, she thought Yardena’s words could be true, but now, after this, she highly doubted it. What kind of way was it to show your love to slap someone? It made no sense. As the first tear slipped out the corner of her eye, Keshet dashed for the door.
Instead of ending up outside, Keshet ended up running into a man she’d seen before--Yeshua bar Yosef, a traveling preacher. Blinking the tears back, she excused herself, saying, “I’m sorry. Forgive me. I’m in a hurry. I must get away for just a little. My sister, Libi, is to be wedded this afternoon. There is too much pressure on me right now. Again, I am sorry.”
As she started to leave, Yeshua stopped her, a hand gently on her shoulder. “Keshet, daughter of Eliyyahu and Malka, everything is well. Let your soul be at peace, for the LORD is watching over you. His hand is upon you. He has a plan for you. You simply must wait and let it unfold before you. Be patient, Keshet. Be patient.” He smiled and walked away, leaving Keshet alone and confounded.

XXXXXXX

Later that day, after the wedding, Keshet was at the wedding feast, with her little sisters Yardena, Gili, and Naamah. Libi was off with Ronen, accepting congratulations. Malka and Eliyyahu were with Ronen’s parents, Nitza and Ovadia. Keshet’s older brother, Mikha’el, and his wife, Talya, with their children, Tehila and Sigalit, were speaking with some of the guests. “Talya?” Keshet called to her sister-in-law. “Talya, could you watch Yardena, Gili, and Naamah for me?” Talya nodded. “Thank you so much.”
As Keshet wandered away, someone caught her eye--Yeshua, the preacher from before, with his mother, Miriam. She averted her eyes before he could call her over to speak. But as she passed Yeshua, she heard Miriam say, “Son, they have no more wine.” Keshet paused. How could that be? Her father and Ovadia had made sure that they were stocked up on such. It couldn’t be so.
She hurried to her father’s steward, Barak, and asked, “Is it true what I hear, that the wine has become so far depleted that there is none left in the stores?” Barak nodded. “Does my father know?” Barak shook his head. “Why not? He should.” Barak explained that it was because he knew Eliyyahu would be ashamed and enraged, and hence embarrass himself and his family if he were told. Keshet understood now. “Thank you, Barak.”
When she finished speaking with the steward, she hastened back over to where Yeshua and Miriam stood. Again, she heard them speaking. Miriam repeated, “Son, they have no more wine. Can you not assist them?”
Looking off in the distance, Yeshua quietly responded, “Woman, it is not yet my time. My Father has not planned it for me. Leave it be.” Yet Miriam pressed and Yeshua kept refusing. Yeshua insisted that it was not his hour.
Finally, Miriam called over the servants. Speaking to them, she said, “Do whatever he tells you.” She stood back, smiling at her son. If he wasn’t going to be bold and make the first move, she would do so for him. She knew that this was his time.
With a smile at his mother, Yeshua turned to the servants. He pointed to some jars over near the wall. “Fill them and return.” When they had filled them to the brim, they returned, bringing the jars along. Yeshua then commanded, “Draw some and, finding the steward, let him taste.”
Keshet hurried to Barak. Out of breath, she said, “Yeshua! That traveling preacher! He is searching for you.” She led him back to the spot, even before the servants could find him. She pushed Barak towards the jars. “He is here. Let him taste.” One of the servants drew the water. Barak took the ladle and sipped. His eyes wide, he handed it to Keshet, who in turn tasted it. “Wine! But it was water.”
Barak nodded. “Wine it is. And not just any wine. It is the best wine I have ever tasted. What did your father and Ovadia do? It is custom to serve the best wine first. Then, when the guests are out of their minds with too much wine, to serve the worse. This? Your father and Ovadia did it backwards. They served the good wine, then the worse wine, and finally the best wine.”
Keshet shook her head. It certainly was strange that they should serve the best last. It wasn’t like her father to try to be different either. He was one for strictly being traditional. Tradition was the center of her father’s life. Tradition and routine. Without tradition and routine, Eliyyahu was not content. They ruled his life completely.
With wide open eyes, Keshet looked to Yeshua, just now realizing that it was his doing. “Yeshua, how did you--” Yeshua cut her off with a raise of his hand. When he didn’t say anything, Keshet took it to mean that he didn’t want any questions asked. He wanted it to be left like that. She understood. She would want the same if she were in his position. Instead of continuing her question, when Keshet next spoke, she said, “Thank you, Yeshua. You saved my father’s dignity.”
Yeshua nodded and simply walked away. Keshet was stunned that he could do such a thing. After working such a-- a-- a miracle! Keshet knew her father would have been thoroughly embarrassed had Yeshua not acted when he did, even if it was against his will. Keshet felt she was indebted to him for saving her family’s dignity. She would have to talk to him later.

XXXXXXX

Two months later, Keshet was in the marketplace with her mother and sisters. Libi was beaming, for she had just announced that she was expecting her first child with Ronen. Malka was extremely happy, and had insisted that they go searching for some new materials to sew new dresses for Libi. While Malka took the younger girls and searched for that, Keshet wandered off on her own. During her wanderings, she came across Yeshua again. She smiled. Just the man she wanted to speak to! She ran towards him, knowing she looked rather undignified. “Yeshua! Yeshua!” she called. When he turned around and saw her, she called again, “Yeshua, I just wanted to thank you again for--”
Again, the hand went up. Keshet fell silent. Yeshua smiled at her and said, “Keshet, there is no need to thank me. I only ask that you thank my Father, for it was He who worked the miracle through me. I was only His tool.” He turned to leave, but Keshet stopped him.
“Yeshua, Yeshua! You really have the power of the LORD in you,” Keshet commented. “It is very strong. I can feel it radiating from you. Just standing near you makes me feel as if I stand in His presence. How could this be?”
Yeshua set a hand on Keshet’s shoulder. “Keshet, this I cannot answer.”
Keshet’s face wrinkled in confusion. “But why not?”
Yeshua shook his head. “I just cannot, Keshet.”
Keshet nodded. But then it dawned on her! There was something special about this Yeshua bar Yosef. He was no ordinary man. He could work miracles, as she saw at her sister’s wedding. He was a preacher. He was a teacher. He had God within him. Who was this Yeshua bar Yosef? Who was he that he was all this? Keshet knew she had to find out.

XXXXXXX

Years after the incident at her sister’s wedding at Cana, Keshet was preparing for her own wedding to a man named Mattityahu bar Ravid. Libi stopped by with her three precious children. She was sobbing. Cradled in her arms was a very still little Tovia. When Keshet welcomed her into her room, Libi stumbled into Keshet’s arms. “Keshet, oh Keshet! I do not know what to do. Tovia… I-- I-- I think…” She sniffled. “I think he may no longer be with us.”
Keshet took the baby, feeling him. His skin was cold and clammy. He didn’t react to her touch. When she whispered in his ear, the child didn’t respond. He wouldn’t open his eyes. He wasn’t breathing. Her own breathing became quick as she felt tears stinging her eyes. Her nephew… her darling little nephew… He… he was gone. Nodding, Keshet handed the deceased child over to his mother.
But then she had an idea. Wiping her eyes, she told Libi to sit down on her bed. “I will be back soon, sister.” She dashed for the door, leaving her sister and nieces and nephew in her room. When she reached the door, she flung it open and raced outside. She knew he was here. She’d heard reports of the preacher being in these parts again. She had to find him. She had to! Looking this way and that, she asked everyone she found if they had seen the traveling preacher.
Finally, she got a positive response. “Oh, yes, he’s over there!” one very enthusiastic man replied. Tucked under his arm was a pallet. “Oh, he’s wonderful! He’s wonderful!” The man tossed his hands up high. “Praise the LORD for Yeshua bar Yosef. Praise the LORD!” He dashed off, announcing the good news of his healing.
When Keshet heard the man’s words, her heart leapt for joy, as did her feet, carrying her to the location of the preacher. There was a crowd, a very large crowd. Keshet had to shove her way through. Finally reaching Yeshua, she fell to her knees, clutching his robes, sobbing. “Oh, Yeshua! Oh, Yeshua! Please, come with me. My nephew, Tovia, has passed from this world, we think. Come! Come, I beg you!”
As she knelt there, Yeshua lifted her chin and looked her in the eyes, his own dark eyes smiling with compassion. He gave her a hand up. “Keshet, daughter of Malka and Eliyyahu, sister of Libi and Ronen, betrothed of Mattityahu, I shall come.” Keshet threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. Before she could shout her thanks, he whispered, “There is no need to thank me, Keshet. There is no need to thank me.”
Keshet let go and ran ahead, leading the way to her parent’s house. When they arrived, she burst through the door, shouting, “Libi! Libi! I have brought him! I have brought the man who worked the miracle at your wedding. He is here to heal Tovia.” She flung the door open and rushed into her sister’s arms, lifting her to a standing position. “Libi, Tovia will live!”
Libi turned away from Keshet, a cold look on her face. When she spoke, her voice was hard. “No, Keshet. No one can save Tovia. He is gone. He is gone. What do you not understand about that? My little Tovia has passed from this world! He is not mine any longer!” She spun around to face her sister. “He is not in my hands!” Angrily, Libi stormed out the door.
Keshet sat down next to her still nephew. Gently caressing his face, she looked up, tears glistening in her eyes once more. “Can you heal him, Yeshua? Can you bring him back? You do not know how much little Tovia means to Libi and Ronen and his sisters. Tovia is the apple of his daddy’s eye. He is the prince of his sisters’ hearts. He is the bundle of joy to his mama. Libi cannot live without him. She will die if her son does not live. She will die.” She picked the bundle up and held him out to Yeshua. “Please, Yeshua! Please!”
Yeshua took the bundle. Gently, he removed the cloth from the child’s face. Touching Tovia’s lips, Yeshua closed his eyes, mumbling something under his breath. Keshet, watching silently, held her own breath as did. When Yeshua looked up and there was still no movement from the baby, Keshet almost lost hope. The tears sprung back into her eyes as she turned away from Yeshua. But Yeshua touched her shoulder and turned her around. When she was facing him, he held the bundle out to her. Taking it, she lifted the cloth which Yeshua had replaced. As she did, little Tovia smiled up at her, laughing his little baby laugh. Keshet almost dropped the child for joy.
Raziela, Libi’s four-year-old daughter, squealed for joy. Running to the door, she shouted in her little voice, “Mama! Mama! Tovia lives! He is here! He is not gone! The nice man healed baby brother. Tovia isn’t dead! He isn’t! He isn’t!” She clapped her hands and ran to Yeshua, throwing her little arms about his legs. Raziela squeaked, “Oh, thank you, nice man! Thank you! I got a little brother again.”
Just then, Libi entered the room. When she saw her little boy in her sister’s arms, she scooped him up, holding him very close. “Oh, Tovia, thank the LORD that you are alive!” She turned to her sister and hugged her, whispering, “Oh, Keshet, how did you know what to do to save my little one?”
Keshet smiled, glancing at Yeshua. “I have been following Yeshua, as has Mattityahu. I knew that Yeshua was here and that he had healed people before. I simply trusted that Yeshua, through the power of the LORD our God, could do it. And he did.”
Libi turned to Yeshua. She fell to her knees, her face in her hands. “Oh, Yeshua! Yeshua! How could I not have trusted that you could heal my son? My faith is little to none. My faith was gone. But now? Now I believe that through the LORD a simple man such as yourself, Yeshua, can do anything. My faith has returned. I believe now. I believe that the LORD will take any measures to accomplish his will. Thank you!”
Yeshua simply smiled. “Thank the LORD, Libi, not me, for it is the God of our forefathers that worked the miracle.” He then left the room.
Keshet turned to Libi. Libi turned to Keshet. The two sisters fell into each other’s arms, crying for joy. Through the faith that Keshet had in a simple man, Yeshua bar Yosef, Libi’s faith was strengthened.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Knights.Love said...
Mar. 22, 2012 at 11:01 pm
Thank you. I feel this is actually one of my better pieces. My teacher really liked it, too. Would you mind reading my story "The Catastrophic-Yet-Not-So-Catastrophic Valentine's Day"? I want some opinions on that one, too.
 
TaurusGal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 21, 2012 at 10:53 am
Very well-written. Each character possesses a unique character. It is fluent and clear. Just that some little parts are a bit long for me. But overall, it's a masterpiece. I enjoyed every bit of it. Good work.
 
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