| Once upon a Story |

Best Decoration  

Boruch grew nauseous as he watched. “What is it?” he demanded in horror

As he ran down the steps of his yeshivah, Boruch Schwartz was the happiest kid alive. How could he not be? Succos vacation had finally begun. He wouldn’t have to go back to school for almost three weeks.

Boruch jumped onto his bike, snapped on his helmet, and happily pedaled down the block.

Suddenly, he remembered something. Today was a special day. His uncle Dov had ordered a bigger succah for his own family, and Boruch’s family would be getting his old one. Although it wasn’t brand new, Uncle Dov’s succah was much newer and nicer than the one Boruch’s family had used. It was made of bright green and white plastic walls, with lots of windows to let light in. Today was the day that the new succah was to arrive, and Boruch couldn’t wait to see it.

In a short time, Boruch pulled up in front of his house. He quickly parked his bike near the garage and ran to the back porch, where he knew the new succah would be. Every year, his father would line up the Succah walls on the back porch, and the entire family would help put it up.

Suddenly, Boruch heard a familiar voice.

“Hey, Boruch!”

Boruch whirled around and found himself facing his older brother, Ari.

“Ari!” Boruch cried. “I forgot that you were coming home from yeshivah today.”

Ari was three years older than Boruch, but the two of them were very close.

“Oh, great.” Ari chuckled. “I’ve been away in yeshivah for one month, and you already forgot about me.”

Boruch took a step toward his big brother, then suddenly stopped short. His eyes grew wide as he stared at what was in his brother’s hand. It was a plastic plate, but in the plate was a pile of mush that looked and smelled very, very, strange.

“UGGGH! What in the world is that?” he cried.

Ari looked down at the plate in his hand. “You mean this?”

“Yes,” said Boruch. “It looks horrible.”

Ari laughed as he held up a forkful of mush for his brother to see. “This stuff is delicious,” he said. “They don’t have good food like this in my yeshivah, that’s for sure.” He opened his mouth wide, and shoveled a heaping forkful of the mush into his mouth.

Boruch grew nauseous as he watched. “What is it?” he demanded in horror.

“This,” answered Ari, as he chewed, “is a lovely portion of Shabbos leftovers. It is made up of delicious chopped liver, coleslaw, and cholent, all mixed together.”

Boruch forced himself not to gag. He had forgotten about his brother’s eating habits. Ari hardly ate anything at all when he was away in yeshivah, but when he came home, he would eat anything and everything in sight.

“Um… welcome home, Ari,” Boruch murmured, as he tried not to look at the food on the plate.

“Chomp… thank you… slurpchew… Boruch,” Ari answered between bites.

Boruch waved his hand at Ari. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s go see the new succah. It should be on the back porch already. I’ve been waiting all day to see it.”

“Oh yeah,” said Ari. “I forgot that we were getting Uncle Dov’s succah. I can’t wait until we get it up. It’s going to look great in our backyard.”

The two brothers rounded the corner to the back of their house, and ran up the back-porch steps.

Suddenly, they froze. Lined up along the walls of the porch were the walls of their old succah.

“Hey!” cried Ari. “This is not the new succah. It’s our old one.”

Boruch scratched his head. “Maybe the new succah didn’t come yet,” he said. “Maybe Totty took the old succah boards out so we could give them away.”

Just then, the back door to their house opened, and out walked their father. On his face was a big smile.

“Hi, boys,” he said. “Welcome home.”

“Hi, Totty,” said both boys together.

“Where’s the new succah?” asked Boruch.

The smile faded from Rabbi Schwartz’s face. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, boys,” he said sadly, “but we’re not going to be getting a new succah this year.”

“WHAT?” exclaimed Boruch.

“I’m sorry,” Rabbi Schwartz said again. “I’m also a little disappointed. I was sure that we would be getting Uncle Dov’s succah.”

“So what happened?” asked Ari.

Rabbi Schwartz sighed. “What happened,” he said, “was that your uncle Dov called me this morning with some interesting news.”

“What news?” asked Boruch.

“Well,” continued Rabbi Schwartz, “this morning, your uncle Dov went to the succah factory to pick up the new succah he had ordered. Unfortunately, when he got there, he realized there was a problem.”

“A problem?” asked Ari.

“Yes,” answered Rabbi Schwartz. “You see, the succah was exactly the right shape and size that they had ordered.”

“That’s good,” said Boruch.

“Yes, that is good,” agreed Rabbi Schwartz. “The shape and size were perfect, but the color wasn’t.”

“The color?” said Ari.

Rabbi Schwartz nodded.

“Yes,” he said. “When Uncle Dov ordered the succah, he kind of made a mistake. When the man asked him what color he wanted the succah to be, Uncle Dov told him to be creative and use his imagination.”

“What happened?” asked Boruch.

“Well,” answered Rabbi Schwartz, “the man really used his imagination. The succah was painted bright pink, with yellow stripes.”

Boruch covered his eyes.

“Oh, no,” he groaned.

“Oh no is right,” answered Rabbi Schwartz. “Baruch Hashem the succah company agreed to repaint the succah a different color.”

“That’s good,” said Ari. “When will it be ready?”

“In about three weeks,” answered Rabbi Schwartz.

“THREE WEEKS?” cried Boruch. “That’s after Succos!”

Rabbi Schwartz nodded again. “That’s right,” he said. “It looks like we’ll be using our good old succah again this year.”

Just then, Mrs. Schwartz came out of the house, with her six-year-old daughter, Dina.

“Oh good,” said Rabbi Schwartz, “I see that everyone is here. You’re all just in time to hear an important announcement.”

“Important announcement?” asked a surprised Boruch.

“Yes,” answered his father. “Ima and I know how disappointed everyone is that we’re not getting a new succah. That’s why we have decided to do something special.”

“Yes,” continued Mrs. Schwartz. “This year, instead of hanging up decorations, we want each one of you to paint a mural on a wall of our succah.”

The Schwartz kids were speechless.

“What kind of picture?” Boruch asked finally.

“It can be a picture of anything you want,” answered his mother, “as long as it has something to do with Succos.”

Rabbi Schwartz pointed to a box.

“In this box,” he said, “are all kinds of pencils, markers, and paints for you to use.”

“The paint and markers are permanent,” added Mrs. Schwartz, “so make sure to wear old clothing, in case they get stained.”

“WOW!” shouted Boruch. “This is great!”

“When can we start?” asked Ari.

“Why not now?” answered Rabbi Schwartz.

“NOW?” cried a wide-eyed Dina.

“Yes,” answered Mrs. Schwartz. “Go get on some old clothing, choose a wall, and start painting.”

Immediately, the Schwartz children ran to their rooms to change into old clothes.

Five minutes later, Boruch found himself standing in front of a large wooden succah wall that was lying in the grass. Boruch’s brain began to race with ideas for his picture. He loved drawing. Hmmm, he thought to himself, what should I draw?

Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. “I know, I’ll paint a picture of a man in a tallis, holding an esrog and lulav. That should be a nice Succos picture.” Boruch immediately went to work, lightly sketching his picture on the wood with his pencil. Finally, it was done. He stood back to admire the picture. He had to admit that it looked great. Now all he needed to do was to fill in the picture with paint.

Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted. “Hey, Boruch,” Ari called.

Boruch turned around and found his brother standing right behind him, admiring his drawing. Once again, Ari was holding an interesting plate of food. The smell coming from the plate began to make Boruch nauseous.

He forgot all about his picture and pointed to the plate. “What on earth is that?” he asked.

Ari smiled. “Oh, this?” He chuckled. “It’s just a new recipe I invented. I call it ‘gefilte fish, chrein, and ketchup.’ ”

Boruch almost gagged. He began pushing Ari away.

“UGGGH!” he moaned. “Get that stuff away from me.”

A surprised Ari lost his balance. As he stumbled, his plate of food went flying through the air.

The two brothers watched the food fly right over Boruch’s succah wall. They gasped in horror as a glob of ketchup-covered-chrein landed with a plop right in the center of Boruch’s succah wall.

Ari quickly grabbed a napkin and tried to remove the blob of ketchup-covered-chrein.

Boruch looked back down at his wall. “OH, NO!” he cried. “The chrein and ketchup blob left a big round red stain, right in the middle of the esrog I drew. My picture is ruined.”

“I’m sorry,” said Ari softly.

Boruch didn’t answer. As he stared down at his ruined picture, he felt tears beginning to form in his eyes.

He had been so excited to decorate his succah wall. He had imagined himself staring happily at his wall all Succos. Now he would be staring at an ugly red stain all Yom Tov, instead.

He glared at Ari.

“You ruined it!” he said.

“I’m sorry, Boruch,” Ari said. “I feel very bad about your picture. Maybe we should trade. You take my succah wall, and I’ll take yours. I don’t mind the red stain. I’ll try to make it into part of my picture.”

Boruch looked down at his wall. Smack in the middle of the wall was a perfectly round, deep red stain. How could Ari possibly make that into anything nice?

Suddenly, Boruch’s eyes lit up.

“Ari,” he cried, “you are a genius.”

Ari scratched his head. “I am?”

“Yes,” answered Boruch. “Thank you for offering, but we don’t have to swap walls.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Ari.

“Don’t worry,” Boruch answered. “You’ll see when my picture is finished.”

Ari shrugged.

“Okay,” he said. “I’m going to go work on my picture.”

As soon as Ari walked away, Boruch went right to work, painting his picture.

Two hours later, he was finished. “Totty, Ima, Ari, and Dina,” he called, “I’m finished. Please come see my wall.”

The whole family gathered around Boruch’s picture.

Ari began to laugh. On top of the wood Boruch had written the words “Ve’samachta Be’chagecha.” Under those words was a picture of a smiling clown, with a large, red, ketchup-chrein nose.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 830)

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