Moshe and Leah

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“Leah, listen to me. I went to see the rabbi. He said I should give you this.” Eyes looking down at the floor, he hands me a folded parchment. It is a get, a religious divorce.

“The rabbi, he said that after this is all over, I might not be able to give you the divorce and then God forbid, you might not be able to remarry ever. So, I got this done right away.”

“Moshe, no…” I yell at him. He flinches and his chair scrapes against the floor.

“Will you be a woman according to Jewish law?” I ask, trying to control my volume. I am sitting on my hands. The need to reach out to him is so strong.

“Yeah, probably…a woman.” He seems to taste the word, rolling it off his tongue…

“So, our relationship, it will be prohibited. Moshe, how long do we have?”

“About two months, according to the doctor, until I am closer to…to a woman.” His tears are now falling openly down his cheeks on to the table – large fat tear drops like rain. Three days till we can touch.

“We have two months,” I whisper. It sounds so horrible. So terminal. But he isn’t dying. He will still be on this earth, just not with me.

“Three more days till mikvah,” I say.

“Oh, hell…” Moshe runs his hands through is red curls. I never heard him curse before.

At the mikvah, I try to dry my tears long enough to fully submerge my body in the water, not a hair can remain outside the water for the submersion to take effect. I sit waiting my turn in the bathroom attached the communal mikvah room. The get is in my purse. My whole being feels sick and heavy. I take the get out of my purse and suddenly I have an unstoppable urge to tear up the parchment and flush it down the toilet. I tear it into a hundred tiny pieces and flush. I text Moshe right away.

I tore up the get. See you soon.

The mikvah water feels good. It is cold and centering. Fully submerged, I say the blessing and then I submerge again, holding my breath under the water.

Blessed are You, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with the mitzvot and commanded us concerning immersion.

This water, is it not supposed to be a womb? I ask God, imagining Moshe with tits and a pussy, dipping into the mikvah. This thought, I know it is wrong. I know I should feel disgusted. Moshe is my husband. I do not feel disgusted.

When I return home, Moshe greets me at the door and we hold each other.

“Since you told me, I keep thinking that we won’t be able to have a baby together…after. I want your baby in my womb. We only have two months to try. Are we not commanded to have children? I want this.” I am freezing. My hair is dripping on the welcome mat, from beneath the scarf.

“Moshe, say something….” I beg.

“Leah, I want a baby with you so badly. I don’t know how to do this with you. I don’t know how to do this with anyone. I don’t know how to become a woman. How can I have a baby with you? What are we going to tell this baby? You will marry again and your new husband will be watching my child grow. What will I then be to this child, an aunt?” He is standing. His body is gently rocking back and forth, as if in prayer. He will never be an aunt to our child. Between us, there will always be the want of bodies. The certainty of this truth cuts across my fear addled brain.

“The brutal truth. We’ll tell our child, if we are blessed with a child, the brutal truth.” I trace his jaw line with my finger. His facial hair is beginning to thin. His jaw line is softening. Wow.

“Moshe, I don’t know how to do this either, except I know I want you. I want your baby, while it is still possible, while I can become pregnant.”

He closes his eyes, letting me run the pads of my thumbs over his face. “I imagined you as a woman at the mikvah. I imagined you going to the mikvah. It was not a horrible thought.” He goes completely still. His hands are clammy and cold. He is not moving, not saying a word.

“God, I am sorry – I am sorry.” I am not sure what I am apologizing for. For his pain, for our pain, for God’s pain.

He opens his eyes and leads me to our room – where he thankfully moved our beds together and fitted them with the gunmetal king sized sheets we used during the times of the month when we are permitted to touch. The room is pitch black, the shades are down.

“Is it ok if I turn on the bedside lamp, I really want to see you…”

“For the last time” He whispered, finishing my sentence. Always brutally honest.

“Yes. I want to see you…your…your cock.” My voice wasn’t coming out right. It sounded weak, uncertain, but I am feeling certain. I try again to speak.

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Bruriah is a formerly frumwriter, attorney and mother. She came to Orthodoxy on her own as a teenager and then came out of it as an adult.