| Curveball |

Curveball: Chapter 2  

“In this story, does Rafi score the winning home run and win the game for his team?”


"Once upon a time, there was a baseball player named Rafi,” began Rafi, as he sat at the edge of his little brother’s bed.

“And he was the best player in the whole wide world!” shouted Avi.

“That, right, Avi,” continued Rafi. “Rafi was the best player in the whole land and everyone was jealous of him. Well, one night, Rafi’s team was playing the second-best team in the land. Rafi’s team had two outs and no one was on base. One more out and their turn at bat would be over. But suddenly, a loud noise erupted from the stands. It sounded like thunder. The fans were cheering for Rafi, who had just come up to bat.”

“Ooh! Ooh! I know what happens next!” interrupted Avi. “I bet Rafi scores a home run and wins the game for his team!”

“You’re a genius,” said Rafi as he smiled at his little brother. “How did you know the surprise ending?”

“Because you always score a home run in the stories you tell me,” said Avi.

“I do?” asked Rafi. “Well, that’s just because my stories are like my real life. Seriously, if it wasn’t for me, I don’t think my team would ever win a game.”

“Hey, what’s going on in here?” asked Mommy, as she poked her head into the room. “Rafi, I asked you to read Avi his bedtime story while I finished washing the dishes. Where’s the book we were in the middle of yesterday? Didn’t you see it on Avi’s bed? I left it out for you guys. Look, it’s right there.” Mommy pointed to a book on the floor next to Avi’s bed. It was a picture book with a collection of stories about Shabbos.

“But, Ma,” whined Rafi, “Avi’s not interested in that book. It’s so babyish. I decided to tell him a story that’s way more exciting.”

“And what story would that be?” asked Mommy.

“A baseball story about Rafi!” shouted Avi.

“And let me guess,” said Mommy. “In this story, does Rafi score the winning home run and win the game for his team?”

“Hey! How’d you know that?” asked Rafi.

“Because that’s what always happens in your stories, Rafi,” said Mommy, shaking her head as she headed back to the kitchen.

The next week at school, Rafi raced into his classroom just as Rabbi Schreiber was about to begin class.

“So nice of you to join us, Rafi,” said Rebbe with a smile as he took a stack of papers out his briefcase. “Before we begin davening this morning, I want to pass out something very exciting. As you all know, we are almost finished with Perek HaKoneis. In honor of all your hard work, the school is putting together a beautiful siyum for you and your parents. The main part of the program will be the divrei Torah and choir performance. We will begin practicing the songs today and I will be asking a few of you who I have chosen for solos to stay in during lunch for extra practice.” Rafi gave Meir a big smile and a thumbs up sign. “Here are the invitations for you to give to your families. Yasher koach, boys! I’m very proud of you!”

The sixth-graders eagerly accepted the invitations from their teacher and, after looking them over, carefully put them in their backpacks. As the boys began opening up their siddurim, Rafi quickly turned to whisper to Shmuli and Meir who sat right behind him, “We need to talk at recess — it’s really important.”


“Okay, Rafi, what’s the big news?” asked Shmuli, as the three friends headed to their special corner of the yard.

“If it’s about the siyum, I also have some important news to share,” said Meir, looking uncharacteristically glum.

“Um, no, it’s not about the siyum. But what’s wrong, Meir? You look kind of upset. Is something wrong?” asked a concerned Rafi.

“No, no, it’s not such a big deal, guys. Don’t worry. I’ll tell you in a minute. You go first, Rafi.”

“Okay if you’re sure… Here’s the deal, guys. It’s about baseball,” began Rafi.

“Again?” asked Shmuli smacking his forehead. “How can everything in your life be about baseball? What’s going on now?”

“Well,” continued Rafi in a slightly offended tone, “if you remember, Little League tryouts are in two weeks.”

“How could we forget?” Meir whispered to Shmuli.

“So it’s super important that I start practicing with other players. Now I know that you two don’t want to join the team, which I happen to think you’ll regret. But just because you don’t want to be on the team yourselves doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support the team.”

“Support the team?” interrupted Shmuli. “Don’t tell me you’re collecting tzedakah money for Little League now?”

“Of course not!” responded Rafi. “But there are other ways to support the team. What I mean is by supporting my efforts to make this the best season possible. Basically, I’ll need you two to help me practice.”

“I don’t get it,” wondered Shmuli. “What do you need us for? Why can’t you practice with the guys from Little League?”

“Umm, I tried that,” stammered Rafi, “but for some reason we don’t get along so well and none of the guys I know from baseball want to practice with me.”

“So what do you need us to do?” asked Meir.

“All I need from you is two hours every afternoon after school for the next two weeks. Easy, right?”

Shmuli looked at Meir. Meir looked at Shmuli. Both boys looked at Rafi and burst out laughing. “You’re kidding, right? You don’t actually think we’re going to spend two hours every day playing baseball with you, do you?”

“Of course not,” responded Rafi quickly. “You can trade off days so you’re each only playing every other day.” Rafi realized his idea wasn’t going over very well, so he immediately changed his plans. “Okay, okay, if that’s too much baseball for you, how about one hour each afternoon?”

Meir and Shmuli looked at Rafi in disbelief. Meir was the first to respond. “I guess I could help you out for half an hour every other afternoon. But that’s as much as I can handle.”

“Alright,” Shmuli reluctantly remarked. “I can commit to half an hour every other day, too.”

“Well, if that’s your final offer…” Rafi said.

“It is,” Meir and Shmuli responded in unison.

“Okay, it’s a deal. Thanks, guys!” Rafi bumped fists with each of them. “Now what was your important announcement, Meir?”

Well,” Meir stuttered while looking down at his shoes. “Rebbi called me at home yesterday. It turns out there’s been a change of plans. Something is going on with one of the other boys in the class… and ummm… Rebbi took away my solo.”

to be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 845)

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