didn’t mean to take the dreidel, honestly I didn’t!” Asher almost shouted. “I ran away just now because I was scared, but obviously you know all that already anyway, and it wasn’t on purpose!”

“You’d better come in,” I said. I led Asher to my room and sat down beside him on the bed. “Now, tell me everything.”

I expected him to tell about the dreidel, but to my surprise he said, “I... I’m sorry I wasn’t nice to you, when you were so friendly with the chocolate balls and everything. I didn’t want to make any friends here, do you see?”

“No, I don’t. Why didn’t you want to make any friends?”

“Because I didn’t want to live here! I didn’t want to leave my best friend and all the kids from my old neighborhood and my old school. I thought that if my parents saw that I was unhappy here, that I wasn’t fitting in and wasn’t making any new friends, maybe they would be willing to move back home.”

“And are they willing?”

“No, not yet. Actually, I guess they won’t ever be.” Asher stared at the floor. “It was a stupid idea. I wasn’t thinking straight. I just wanted them to see how miserable I am! But life is really boring without friends, so I decided to come just once to see your museum. That’s not really ‘fitting in’, right?”

“Right.” I didn’t know what else to say. Poor Asher! How would I feel if I was suddenly cut off from Yoel and Yom Tov and Tulli and all my friends?

“And besides... Maybe I did want to be friends, just a little,” Asher said to the floor. “Maybe that’s why I came… And the things in the museum were so beautiful! Especially the dreidel with the waves inside, I wanted to touch it for just a moment, to feel if it was really made of glass, if you could feel the waves. I couldn’t resist. I took it in my hand, and then I saw you coming. I was scared because you had warned us not to touch, so quickly, without thinking, I hid it in my pocket. I was going to put it back as soon as no one was looking, but I didn’t get a chance! I kept feeling that I was being watched, and I was afraid you’d be really mad at me, especially after... after I was so unfriendly. So I went home with the dreidel in my pocket. I felt terrible, but I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid that if I brought it back, you wouldn’t believe that I hadn’t taken it on purpose. Maybe even now you don’t believe me.”

“Of course I do! I was a bit hurt that you didn’t want to be my friend, and I was also disappointed, because I really wanted a friend my own age who was also my neighbor. But of course I believe that you didn’t mean to steal!”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 754)