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All I Ask: Chapter 39

His simple joy at having someone come around to ask after him was touching to see


anky walked through the long dining hall, heading for the kitchen. At some tables the bochurim were talking in learning; at others, they sat and ate in silence. At the last two tables, a lively discussion was in progress.

“So why did they arrest the mashgiach? Because he took money for himself?”

“No, it wasn’t about the bank transfers. He was arrested because he’s an authorized signatory, and they suspected the yeshivah of money laundering. All authorized signatories are responsible for whatever goes on in a nonprofit.”

“Wrong. The board is responsible, not the signatories.”

“What’s the difference? The mashgiach and Langerman are members of the board, and they’re also authorized signatories.”

“Then why didn’t they arrest the Rebbe shlita?”

“I guess they still have some respect for rebbes.”

“Mah pitom? Of course they don’t have any respect for the Rebbe, it’s just that he isn’t a member of the board. He’s an authorized signatory, but he never signs. The mashgiach is the one who actually signed, that’s why he got into trouble.”

“So how does his company in Switzerland come into the story?”

“It doesn’t really. But when the government did the audit, they found irregularities in the amutah, and then they started checking all the outgoing transfers. That’s when they saw the transfers to the company, and when they investigated the company, they found out it was owned by the mashgiach….”

Raised voices, knowing expressions, lively debate. How did these young bochurim know all these details? And why were they discussing it now, as if it were the latest news? Had Yanky missed something?

He pricked up his ears, but just then they noticed him passing by, and the conversation suddenly jerked to a halt. He made a mental note to check into the matter and proceeded to the kitchen. His tenant, Bugi, was supposed to be working there now. Nochumku had gotten him a temporary job in the yeshivah kitchen, peeling vegetables and cleaning. Now they’d see whether he’d actually shown up for work, or decided he just didn’t have the strength and stayed in bed. Ah, here he was! He was standing at the sink, scrubbing something.

“Mah nishma, Bugi? How’s it going?”

Bugi’s face lit up. His simple joy at having someone come around to ask after him was touching to see.

“Right now, everything’s all right,” he said. “I feel like I could work for two years straight, or even… even until I retire. But I know it won’t last. It never lasts. I feel good for a while, and then one day I wake up, and I can’t see any reason to get out of bed.”

“And what do you do then?”

“I wait for it to wash over me and go away. You wouldn’t understand. You don’t know depression. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be lying in a black hole, asking yourself, What am I even living for? and not having any answer.” Bugi placed the pan on the drying rack, then picked up the next pot to be scrubbed. “But now that I’m getting up and going to work, doing something, I feel like there’s some hope. Maybe I’ll even find someone, get married, and have a family. And then, when I ask myself what I’m living for, I’ll have an answer.”

“You won’t,” said Yanky.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 795)

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