| Encore |

Encore: Chapter 52

He didn’t even do his usual Matzav, weather forecast, Yeshiva World ritual. Instead he went straight to Chase



t 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning, Shuey Portman parked outside the yeshivah building. The thick blanket of snow made the familiar view — the long, low building, the sloping lawn, the basketball court, and path down to the road — seem different, like it was a new campus.

The tree branches hung low under the snow’s weight, and Shuey walked carefully, leaving footprints in the soft white carpet as he headed to the building, lifting his wheelie off the ground so as not to track snow inside.

He peeked into the beis medrash, enjoying the sound of a heated first seder, the very boys with whom he’d sat in a studio three days earlier completely engaged in learning. See? The song was purely a bein hasedorim recreation, he thought, there was no bittul Torah here. Either it will make it or it’ll flop — either way, these boys will be learning, he told himself as he headed toward his office.

He hung up his jacket on a hook behind the door, promising, as he had so many times before, that he would put up a normal rack with a hanger so that his jacket didn’t have to get creased. The yeshivah executives who got invited to speak in Florida didn’t leave their jackets draped on flimsy hooks like wet bathing suits, he knew.

But there were bigger issues than his jacket. The first of the month was coming and the bills were due. Taxes, insurance, and salaries. He owed the caterer money and Ephraim had a few hundred dollars in gas receipts for driving the Rosh Yeshivah’s children to Monsey.

Shuey turned on the computer, fully expecting there to be some money in the account. A few of the parents paid tuition by automatic deposit. And the Rosh Yeshivah had solicited a bit over the weekend — the checks sat in a neat pile on Shuey’s desk, ready for deposit.

He didn’t even do his usual Matzav, weather forecast, Yeshiva World ritual. Instead he went straight to Chase.

He looked at the balance, closed his eyes, and shook his head, as if to clear the cobwebs and looked again. It was still there: a balance of $21,348.00. Something was off, he realized, certain that it was a mistake. There should have been about three thousand dollars, maybe a bit more.

He clicked off the site, then took a deep breath and started again. Chase. Username and password. Enter.

Balance: $21,348.00.


He checked the statement and saw the yeshivah had received a wire transfer of $18,000.00 from TORAH SUPPORT GROWTH FUND.

He frowned. He’d never heard the name before. A Google search showed nothing. This was strange.

He got up and headed back toward the beis medrash.

The Rosh Yeshivah was sitting in a little group of bochurim, and he looked up courteously when he saw Shuey approaching.

“Reb Yehoshua, welcome back home,” he said, and, when he saw Shuey’s face, he placed a tissue in the open Rashba on his sefer, closed it gently, and walked with Shuey to the corner of the beis medrash.


“Are you expecting any sort of larger-than-usual donation, maybe? Something that would have come by wire?” Shuey asked, trying to keep his voice casual.

“Well, I ended up collecting a bit over the weekend, I had time Sunday and went to speak to Gavriel Lauer, did you know we went to yeshivah together? Normally, you have to go through a gabbai, but I saw him in shul on Sunday morning and he couldn’t have been nicer.”

Rabbi Wasser’s face darkened for a moment. “He listened when I told him about the yeshivah, he loved the idea that it’s away from all the action, mamash like an island. Anyhow, he said he would like to do something big, but it’s a very rough time now, poor guy, I felt badly for him….”

Shuey felt that usual mix of awe and tenderness that Rabbi Wasser inspired in him. Rabbi Wasser was truly pained by the fact that Gavriel Lauer — who had his house in Flatbush, a compound near Lakewood, an apartment in Shaarei Chesed, and who’d made a wedding in the New York Hilton with Shwekey, Daskal, and Ribo there — was going through a “rough time.”

He tried to keep his expression serious as he nodded. “Takeh rough, you know, the bigger you are and all that,” Shuey said.

“Right, but l’maiseh, he’s such a mensch, he wrote out a check for $500 on the spot, so I got that, that was a very nice donation.”

“Oh wow, that is nice,” said Shuey. “Anything else?”

“Yes, I went to my cousin on Sunday afternoon, apparently he has a nice business in the Amazon.”

In the Amazon. The bochurim would love this.

“And he was very generous, he gave 360, so that was nice. And then at night, I went to Levinsky, he said he would send something. So, baruch Hashem.”

Shuey nodded. “That’s very nice, takeh, and it will come in helpful.”

He swallowed. “There was some extra money in the account, I’m trying to figure out where it’s from and it’s confusing. I don’t recognize the name. I guess I can call the bank and see if I can make sense of it.”

The Rosh Yeshivah smiled. “Gevaldig, how much is it?”

“Eighteen thousand dollars,” Shuey said, a note of pride in his voice, as if he himself were the anonymous donor.

The Rosh Yeshivah’s eyes flew open. “That’s very special, whoa. Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin, pshhhhh,” he shook his head from side to side, and again, Shuey was humbled. This man lived with a sense of Hashem’s control, expected Hashem’s kindness, and reacted to it with complete composure, because he’d never been in doubt.

“So voss tut men mit di gelt?” Rabbi Wasser asked, and his eyes danced with good humor. “I always wanted to ask that question, but I never had an opportunity. Once, actually, we won a Chinese auction in Lakewood, my wife came home with $5,000 in cash, and we decided she was going to get a new sheitel and the rest would go to tzedakah. That was geshmak.”

“It’s a lot of money,” Shuey said, “but we need most of it, we owe the caterer a few thousand dollars, we’ll both get paid on time this month.” He smiled, trying to make light of it. “And we owe Terrence for last month and this month. But it’s a huge relief, that’s for sure, I didn’t have too many eitzahs. That plus the money you brought in brings real yishuv hadaas.”

Rabbi Wasser nodded and smiled again. “Baruch Hashem,” he said happily, humming as he walked back to the beis medrash.

Shuey went the other way, suddenly feeling like he had free time to go on a hunt and figure out who had sent the money. The Internet could tell you anything these days, right?

Was this a sign that things were getting easier? That the siyata d’Shmaya he davened for was with him? Was the money suddenly sitting in his account an omen that the song would do what he thought it could do?

Was Shuey Portman about to make a comeback?

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 835)

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