By Yoel Yaron
Decades ago, in the mid-sixties, we were young and broke. Hamutal was in the last year of her social work studies and I, with a fresh bachelor's degree in agronomy, was desperately trying to get a suitable job. We lived in a condo at the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv, fourth floor, no elevator. Our home, a rented apartment if you could call it such, comprised a hall that served as our bedroom, a kitchenette and a tiny bathroom. My nights were spent as a watchman at a building site.
Often, when I returned home early in the morning, I met my next door neighbor Moshe on the stairway on his way to work. Moshe, who lived alone, was evidently somewhat better-off financially than we were, as he had a radio receiver in his home. We couldn't afford such luxury, but thanks to the thinness of the wall that separated our flats, we were daily updated with the news, gossip and latest musical hits when Moshe turned on the radio on his return from work. At least once a week Moshe offered to share with me on an equal basis the lotto ticket of the coming official lottery that took place every Tuesday afternoon. "Trust me. I have a hunch that together we'll make it. Three times I won, small sums up to now but I discovered a method guaranteed to increase my chances and by combining your luck with mine I'm sure we can make a killing". Again and again I politely declined his offer, "Thanks, maybe next week. Right now I'm a bit short in cash".
Mornings, when Hamutal was at the university and Moshe's radio was silent, I complemented the much-needed sleep I had missed during my night shift. Afternoons Hamutal and I used to take a stroll as far as weather allowed. Part of the afternoon hours I dedicated to frustrating job hunting while Hamutal gave private lessons to eke our modest income.
One Tuesday Hamutal and some of her co-students attended an afternoon seminar in the university, and as she stayed home in the morning I kept myself awake so we could be together for a few hours. After lunch, when Hamutal left for the seminar, I went to sleep. About three hours later I woke up with a dream still clear in my memory. In my dream I had gone with Hamutal to her seminar. As we entered the classroom I saw the instructor scribbling numbers on the board and reading them out as she wrote them: "Three, six, seven, eighteen, twenty three, thirty two and the bonus number seventeen".
"Strange", I wondered. "What can those numbers imply?" Up to that moment I never had interest in lotteries in general and the lotto specifically. But now I wondered: "Could it possibly be a message from heaven? Who knows, may I ignore what appears to be a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity? What can I lose more than a few shekels if I try?" I wrote down the numbers, as well as I could remember them, on a scrap of paper: 3, 5, 7, 18, 25, 32, 17. No, I got it wrong. I made an effort to concentrate harder and tried again: 3, 6, 8, 18, 22, 32, 17. Again I felt uncertain and tried a few more times to get the right numbers, writing all my endeavors on the scrap of paper. "No need to panic", I told myself. "As far as I know, a lotto form contains several tables, allowing me to try several combinations. If providence has decided to be kind to me, it would surely guide my hand to enter the right combination into one of the tables".
Come evening and on my way to work I passed by a lottery booth. "Can I fill a lotto form?" I asked the vendor. "What am I here for? Sure you can", she replied and handed me a form to fill. Never having handled such a form before, I asked her to explain how to fill it, which she patiently did. Accordingly, I filled six tables with the different combinations that I had written on the scrap of paper, adding the bonus number 17 of which I was certain to each. I paid the vendor the sum that she stated, put my copy of the filled form in my wallet and proceeded to my night-watch at the building site.
Epilogue: Ten years later Moshe, still a bachelor, lost all his money in Las Vegas. I hear from common acquaintances that he keeps trying up to this day, never losing hope, to regain his fortunes. Hamutal and I, both retired by now, lead a comfortable life after having completed payments on our mortgage years ago. We still don't have a radio. What do we need one for, with a quadrophonic, sixty-inch screen home cinema set in our spacious living room that we hardly use, being busy with our eleven charming grandchildren?