| All I Ask |

All I Ask: Chapter 30

“Money comes and goes — who knows if I’ll always have it? I want to know I can get along without it if I have to”



ante Hindy’s armchairs were soft and comfortable. Yonatan settled into one right after the Friday night seudah, thinking over the events of the past few days and wracking his brains to recall when and how that absurdly important scrap of paper had made its way into his backpack….

“I know!” he suddenly said, and his young cousins all looked at him, amused.

“What do you know?”

“Nothing… I just remembered something I’d forgotten,” Yonatan stammered. “Of course I was at the Central Bus Station! I came to Israel for a few days in the summer to check out the job market, and I had an interview lined up. I had a package with me from my neighbors, the Bodners, for their son, and I was supposed to call him when I arrived and arrange to have him come and pick it up. But I wanted to walk around town on my own, so I decided to go to this little place, the Hotel Avital, where Jeremy Bodner was staying.

“It was very hot, but I didn’t take a taxi. I have this thing about experiencing life like a poor person, especially in Jerusalem, where so many people can’t afford luxuries like taxi rides.”

The cousins all crept a little closer to Yonatan, wondering about their cousin’s strange predilections. “Yonatan Eliav, experiencing life like a pauper?” asked Chaim sardonically.

Yonatan laughed. “I can just imagine how my Dad would react if he knew. I never told him about my little game of virtual poverty. He’d think I was crazy if he saw me using public transportation, budgeting 50 quid for myself and living on it for a week, eating nothing but bread and that soft Israeli cheese, with my credit cards off limits. I would even leave my phone in my hotel room for the day, so I could feel like those poor people who have no phone and no GPS.”

“But why?” Chaim insisted.

“Because,” Yonatan said, “I don’t want to be too dependent on money. Money comes and goes — who knows if I’ll always have it? I want to know I can get along without it if I have to.”

Chaim nodded, and Yonatan resumed the story of that hot day.

“When I got to the bus station, I started asking people, in my broken Hebrew, how to get to the Hotel Avital. A few guys tried to give me directions, but they all contradicted each other. Aside from all the people offering me the wrong directions, there was a beggar, sitting on cardboard, calling out to me, trying to tell me his version of where the hotel was. But he looked so pathetic, and the other people were all telling me he wasn’t in his right mind, so I chose not to pay attention to him.

“So I decided to listen to the guy who seemed the most sure of himself. Off I went, tramping in the heat with a pack on my back, and I ended up on a wild goose chase. He sent me to that area on Derech Ruppin where there’s a cluster of big hotels, none of which was the Hotel Avital.

“So it turned out that the beggar was right after all, and everyone else was wrong. I turned around and walked all the way back to the bus station, hoping the beggar would still be there.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 786)

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