| Encore |

Encore: Chapter 39

“Oh, come on, you guys are just being nasty,” Lieber said, and just like that, the whole conversation went from being light to being tense, and everyone got uncomfortable



haim Harari’s brother had made money doing fix n’ flips in East Orange, so he fancied himself a real estate mogul.

“It’s not so shver — the yeshivah owns land both ways, all the way to the road, and then behind, down the creek. We can build like this…” He drew an imaginary map with his fingers. “I would say twelve, thirteen houses, and there you go. No more financial problems.”

Sensing a current of interest, he jumped off the bed and started pacing back and forth. “Bungalow colonies in the Catskills are all the same, the oilem is bored of it, Woodbourne and Fallsburg and 52. We can make Modena so hot.”

“No way.” Lorb didn’t agree. “No one is driving from the city or Lakewood all the way to Modena. You’re dreaming.”

Harari’s eyes flashed. “Hunter! Tannersville! They’re even farther, so ha!”

“Pssshhh, listen to the shakla v’tarya.” Lieber had one sock on and one sock off, so he was hopping around the room. “He comes with ra’ayos, all ready for shiur klali. Harari, you’re saying good. Let’s open a bungalow colony. The yeshivah can use a pool.”

“The rosh yeshivah will never let, he’s not opening up the campus to families,” Brandman said. “Not a chance.”

Harari was ready for this. “It’s not a full-year thing, it’s sach hakol two months a year, and one of them is bein hazmanim, it’s not a big deal. These days, people want homes in the mountains and they need a shul. We have it all — a sefer Torah, a minyan if they want to do a Shabbos during the winter… we’re covered. It’s a no-brainer.”

“Okay, Chaim, so start building. Should we go to Home Depot and buy two-by-fours? Maybe pre-fab houses?” Lorb was trying to take back the advantage.

“First of all,” Harari said, “you don’t pronounce the ‘T.’ Home Dee-poe, not Home Depot. Second of all, we’ll get a contractor. I just have the concept, now I give it over to Rabbi Portman and let him make it happen. That’s why he gets the big bucks. I just learn here.”

As if to prove his point, he grabbed his pen and paper and left the room, off to petition Rabbi Portman.

It was quiet for a moment after he left. Then Lieber said, “Listen, you can make fun of him if you want, but l’maiseh, he cares about this yeshivah. We need money, and he’s going to find a way to make it happen.”

Maskim, it’s nice, but it’s completely not l’maiseh,” Lorb said. “The idea has no shaichus. Here, I have an idea too.” He jumped up, imitating Harari. “Let’s divert traffic from the Thruway through the campus and put up a toll-booth, does that work?”

Brandman got into it. “How about this? We make a little amusement park, we’ll put billboards on the highway and get people to come, you know those types who pull over for every tourist attraction? I mean, my parents once took us to see an insect farm, it was basically like my backyard. So we can do it too.”

“Yeah.” Sutton was laughing. “This room can be a haunted house, and we can use Terrence’s golf cart like a go-kart and do some games on the basketball court, maybe that zach where you have to knock over a barrel or something… Go call back Harari and tell him we got the payroll covered.”

“Oh, come on, you guys are just being nasty,” Lieber said, and just like that, the whole conversation went from being light to being tense, and everyone got uncomfortable.




Chaim Harari looked frustrated as he left Shuey Portman’s office.

“The problem is, the man doesn’t have enough vision,” he said to Tishler, who was walking by. “Instead of seeing solutions, he sees problems.”

Tishler looked confused and he shrugged elaborately. “Okay,” he said amiably.

The key, Harari knew, was Dovi Korman; he was the only one who could rally the troops and make something happen. Korman just had this way. When he spoke, the other boys listened, and when he shared a dream, no one snickered.

But was it fair to make him part of project to save the yeshivah when his father had been the one to drop the ball?

Harari headed to the beis medrash, looking for Boruch Zeldman, the only one who could answer the question. He wasn’t there, so Harari went to check outside. Maybe there was a basketball game going on. The court was empty, so Harari continued on to the dining room. Maybe someone had prepared midnight snack.

He finally found Zeldman in the kitchen, pouring popcorn into the yeshivah’s large cholent pot.

“Hey, Chef Zeldman, sorry to interrupt your avodah, quick question.”

Zeldman looked up, but was clearly distracted, so Harari kept going.

“Listen, we need to get the oilem involved, we can do this. It’s not a big deal. But it’s our achrayus to help out, and I feel like we should try. Thing is, without Dovi, it won’t get started. Can we ask him to help? Will he feel bad?”

Zeldman looked at him awkwardly, and Harari wondered what he’d said something wrong.

A moment later, the large walk-in refrigerator door slammed shut and Dovi Korman stepped out.

“Hey,” he said cheerfully, “what’s the matzav? You want to know if we can talk about the elephant in the zoo? That my father can’t carry the yeshivah alone anymore? Avadeh we can.”

“The room,” Zeldman said.

“What?” Both boys turned to look at him, confused.

“Elephant in the room, not elephant in the zoo.”

“Okay, shkoyach, professor,” Harari said, all business. “Dovi, you with us? What’s the eitzah?”

Dovi was carrying a large box of salt. He put it down on the counter and ran his hands through his hair.

“Hmmm… We need a mehalech that works for yeshivah, that can make the yeshivah money, but also won’t make the rosh yeshivah nervous, right?”

He started pacing around the kitchen, deep in thought.

He stopped short and pounded the table. “I got it. Chili sauce!”

“Chili sauce?” Harari furrowed his brow, trying to pretend he got the idea, that he was able to hold his own. “How does that make money?”

“No, not for the yeshivah, for now, for the popcorn. Chili sauce. The guys will love it.”

He climbed onto a chair and started rummaging around on the high shelves.

Harari crossed his arms, all business. “Nu? Come on, man. Let’s get this done.”

Dovi Korman didn’t turn around when he answered.

“It’s a good cause, takeh, but great ideas don’t just come. You don’t just shoot out ideas and see money pouring in. Give me some time, brother…”

Harari felt chastised, but he understood. This was still hard on Dovi, even with all the bravado.

He remembered his brother Shmuel coming home from a date all excited, and then the shadchan called that the girl had said no. Shmuel had said, “You serious? Her loss,” then shrugged and kept playing ping-pong, as if he’d heard that there was a chance of rain tomorrow.

But then Shmuel had hit the ball violently, causing it to crack — and Chaim had realized that his older brother wasn’t as cool as he made it look. He watched Dovi Korman pour too much chili sauce into the cholent pot and he thought of his brother Shmuel.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 822)

Oops! We could not locate your form.