Reb Nissan opened the door with his usual welcoming smile. I was too nervous to smile back.
“Uh... Ummm ... You know the purple dreidel? The glass one? With the white waves inside?” I began hesitantly. What was the matter with me? Why was I talking in questions?
“Yes!” Reb Nissan was alarmed. “What about it? Did it break?”
“No, no,” I hastened to reassure him, but I myself was not reassured, just the opposite. If he thought I’d come to tell him the dreidel was broken, that meant he didn’t have it. So what did happen? Where was the dreidel?
“Baruch Hashem,” Reb Nissan sighed with relief. “So what did you want to say about it?”
“That it’s gone,” I blurted out quickly. “It’s not in its place on the shelf. I can’t find it anywhere.”
“Oh no!” Reb Nissan gasped.
“I’m so sorry, I was there the whole time, but I never imagined that one of the exhibits could disappear... I thought I just had to keep order and make sure nothing broke. Do you think that… that maybe someone took the dreidel?”
Reb Nissan did not answer. He went with me to the museum, to see for himself. To look for the dreidel himself. But he couldn’t find it either.
“It can’t be that one of the kids took it!” I said. “That’s stealing — who would do such a thing?”
It seemed as if Reb Nissan hadn’t heard me. He picked up a wooden grogger decorated with tiny, detailed drawings, and turned it slowly, making a squeaking noise. “The purple dreidel, of all my collection,” he said quietly. “It is very precious to me, a unique work of art, the work of a well-known artist. And it is also worth a lot of money. Most of the things here are not expensive, but that one is.”
“I’m terribly sorry,” I said again, because I could not think of anything better to say.
“It’s not your fault, Bentzion, I’m the one to blame. I wasn’t careful enough, I left my collection like this without supervising it myself….”
Suddenly I knew what to say. “Don’t worry, Reb Nissan, we’ll find the dreidel, b’ezras Hashem. We’ll call an emergency meeting of the secret club and make a plan,” I promised.
Reb Nissan smiled indulgently. “You are good children,” he said, but there was no hope in his voice. “Well, it’s all min haShamayim, it should be a kapparah.”
We’ll find it, I promised again, this time silently to myself, and went home to call my friends and arrange an emergency meeting.
As I opened the door of the house, I heard Batya lamenting: “It’s gone! Simply disappeared, I can’t believe it!”
Wow, it’s nice of her to care so much. “He didn’t take it to clean,” I told her.
“Who didn’t take what to clean?” She looked at me, confused. “Oh, the dreidel? That’s too bad.”
“Did you forget the dreidel?” I was disappointed. “But just a moment ago I heard you crying that it’s gone!”
“Oh, no, I was talking about my special eraser. The one made of several shiny, colored layers, remember it? I was putting my collection in order and suddenly noticed it was missing.”
“Did you ask Shmuel? He wanted that eraser, didn’t he?”
“Shmuel is already asleep, and Mommy said I can’t wake him up. Just wait and see what I do to him in the morning!”
“Take it easy, it’s only an eraser. You can always buy a new one instead.”
“They don’t sell this kind anymore!”
“Big deal. Reb Nissan lost a unique and precious work of art, handmade by a well-known artist!”
“Well, yes, obviously that’s much worse,” Batya admitted grudgingly. “What are you going to do about it?”
I went to the phone. “I’m calling an emergency meeting of the secret club.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 749)
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