| Jr. Fiction |

Holiday in Gibraltar: Part 5   

“We’re far too nice, that’s the trouble,” said Yanky. “We can’t climb because we have to babysit Zvi”



he following afternoon, Camp Yeshivas Ohavei Torah set out on their rock-climbing expedition. It didn’t take them long to get the hang of it, and if it wasn’t for Zvi Leader dragging behind, Danny and Yanky would have finished the short, “easy” climb together, ready to tackle the next grade. But Zvi whined about every bump and scratch, and they had to wait so long each time he stopped to complain or “catch his breath,” as he called it, ,that they fell behind the rest of the group. The final straw came when Zvi said he didn’t think he could go on any longer, and Yanky, reaching down to help him, lost his balance and fell against a jagged piece of rock.

He let out an angry yell, and Zvi burst into tears. Yanky hadn’t broken anything; he was just sore. He picked himself up, ready to go on, but Zvi refused to budge.

“I give up,” said Yanky.

“Me too,” said Danny.

“We’re far too nice, that’s the trouble,” said Yanky. “We can’t climb because we have to babysit Zvi.”

“Shhhh,” said Danny. “He has ears, you know. Come on, let’s help him climb down.”

The three of them sat on a bench in silence, watching tourists line up for ice cream. Eventually, fed up from looking at Zvi’s legs swinging back and forth, Danny crossed the street to look at the sign advertising sightseeing tours of the Gibraltar caves. A tour of one of the largest caves in Gibraltar was on tomorrow’s itinerary, and he wasn’t going to let Zvi spoil it for him.

“What’s up?” asked Yanky, when Daniel returned to sit next to him on the bench. “Your face is a picture.”

“Of what?” said Danny.

“Well, let’s say I always thought of you as a patient kind of guy. Now I see a different side. Rather interesting.”

“I’m glad I gave you something to think about while you pass the time.”

Yanky slapped Danny hard on his back. “Go, Danny!” he said.

“I gather you are now recovered from your little accident,” said Danny.

“Wish I could say the same about him,” said Yanky, indicating Zvi. “What is the matter with the kid?”

“No idea,” said Danny. Sometimes he wondered if Zvi was deaf. He seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they were talking about him, sunk in his thoughts. It was enough to drive a kid mad.

There was a series of shouts behind them. The triumphant climbers had returned.  There was loud praise for Yitz Green, who climbed “like a mountain goat,” according to Rabbi Ganz. Privately, Danny thought that he looked more like a fox or a cat. There was something majestic, cunning and deadly about him.

Everyone sat down to a packed lunch around the entrance to a nearby cave while several macaque monkeys hung around, trying to make friends.

One of the monkeys bared its teeth at Danny and sat opposite him, as if trying to get his attention.

“Look, Danny has a new friend,” said Yitz Green. If anyone else had said it, Danny would have laughed. But coming from Yitz it was a barbed comment, so he just continued eating his sandwich.

“Aren’t you going to share your food with him?” asked Yitz.

Then a very odd thing happened. The monkey turned from Danny and half hopped, half ran toward Yitz, then began running around him in circles, screeching.

It was weird and rather frightening. Yitz screamed and tried to bat the animal away. Everyone stared at the spectacle of cool Yitz terrorized by a monkey.

“Don’t you think he’s trying to tell you something, Yitz?” asked Yanky over the noise of the jabbering animal. “Try saying sorry to Danny.”

A few boys booed the idea but most of them agreed. “Say sorry, Yitz!” they chorused.

“Sorry, Danny, I’m sorry!” shouted Yitz. To everyone’s amazement, the monkey stopped in its tracks and ran off jabbering and screeching.


After they returned to the hostel, Danny asked to speak with Rabbi Ganz.

“I’m sorry to let you down, but Yanky and I are finding it hard having Zvi Leader follow us around all day. Can we be freed from duty tomorrow? We’d like to focus on the tour of the caves.”

Rabbi Ganz sighed. “Of course,” he said. “Rabbi Shine and I will keep an eye on him. We want you both to enjoy yourselves. But just remember one thing. It may not seem so, but it’s an honor to be trusted by Zvi.”


“His mother is very ill. When I say ‘very,’ I mean seriously. He’s terrified of losing her,” said Rabbi Ganz.

“Wow. I’m really sorry,” said Danny.

“He’s gone from being an unstoppable force of nature to a shy, timid person, in the space of a few weeks,” said Rabbi Ganz. He shrugged. “So, we’ll take care of Zvi tomorrow,” he said, walking away rather quickly, leaving Danny with the uncomfortable feeling that Rabbi Ganz was disappointed in him.


Despite his initial excitement, Danny found himself zoning out as the tour guide droned on as they toured the caves the next day. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that a monkey had appeared at the entrance of the cave. Weirdly, the monkey seemed to recognize him. It ran, chattering toward him, interrupting the flow of the guide’s commentary. Everyone laughed.

“Stand back,” said the tour guide. “Don’t touch, it might get aggressive.” But the monkey was determined to stick beside Danny.

It was distinctly strange. Everyone was watching Danny and the monkey.

“I wish it would come to me,” said one of the boys. But the monkey pointedly ignored everyone except for Danny.

“He’s singled you out,” said Yanky. “It’s like he knows who you are.”

“Not much of a compliment,” said Danny, “to be singled out by a monkey.”

“Well look how he attacked Yitz. He knows the difference.”

And then from one minute to the next, the monkey was gone. Everyone began to follow the guide through the tunnel into the first of the inner caves. Only Danny stayed behind. A strange sensation had come over him… as if he had been there before. The boys, the tour guide, Rabbi Ganz, and Rabbi Shine, all disappeared.  There were just the waves at the entrance of the cave, the slow drip-drip of water inside, a rushing wind, and a voice.

Esa einai el heharim… me’ayin yavo ezri…

Who was that? He turned, half afraid, half exhilarated. But there was no one there.

Ezri me’im Hashem, Oseh shamayim va’aretz.”

“Danny? Is that you?”

Yanky was standing staring at him.

“Saying Tehillim, Danny? You okay?”

“It wasn’t me.”

“Er… it was,” said Yanky. “I heard you.”

“No. I heard it too, but it wasn’t me.”

“Are you okay? You got heatstroke?”

“No,” said Danny, wonderingly.

“Come out into the light,” said Yanky. “You’re all confused.”

Danny followed Yanky to the entrance of the cave.

“Look over there,” said Yanky. “Look, he’s waiting for you.”

There it was, the same monkey, crouched on the ground outside. When Danny appeared, it did an extraordinary thing. It lowered its head to the ground and seemed to bow.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 950)

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