ho’s the new boy?” asked Yonah.
“Anything new,” grinned Avishai, “is a great way to restart school after Succos!”
Yonah sighed. “No vacation until Chanukah.”
Rabbi Rosen said, “I am sure you will all make friends with Yechezkel.”
Three weeks later, Rabbi Rosen paced the room, reviewing for the next day’s Gemara test. Question after question brought a forest of raised hands. But the new boy, Chezky, rested his chin on his hands.
Avishai waved hard, but Rebbi said, “Yechezkel.”
Groans filled the classroom. Chezky’s French accent had made him popular at first. Everyone asked him questions just to hear him talk. Then recess revealed that he couldn’t play baseball. Patient explanations turned impatient, then stopped. Nine innings needed several recesses, and they had no time for an ignoramus.
Why did Rebbi force Chezky to display ignorance in class, too? The whole class cringed as he stumbled through an answer.
Chezky hunched into his chair as one hand after another shot up. Avishai hesitated. It was still Chezky’s turn — but what if Rebbi called on someone else? Avishai hadn’t been called on today, and not yesterday either. Slowly, his hand crept up.
“Avishai, can you answer?”
Proudly, Avishai answered, and the review continued.
When the recess bell rang, Rebbi said, “Avishai, come here.”
To his friends’ sympathetic looks, Avishai plodded to the front of the classroom.
Rebbi drummed his fingers on the table. “Perhaps you can give me advice.”
“Me?” The word popped out before Avishai could think.
“Yechezkel is not making friends. What can we do?”
“We tried,” explained Avishai. “He didn’t like talking to us.”
“Did people give up after the novelty wore off?”
“We invited him to play at recess, and he didn’t want to. What else could we do?”
“You’re a popular student, Avishai. Did you take him under your wing?”
Avishai stuck his hands in his pockets, scowling. Why was Rebbi picking on him? “We did everything we could.”
Rebbi sighed. “All right. Thank you, Avishai.”
Avishai bounced out to the schoolyard. Yoni had Avishai’s place guarding third base. Chezky was a familiar fixture near the wall, bouncing his soccer ball from his knee to his elbow and then to his head.
The trick was harder than it looked. Some of the boys had given up after a few failed efforts. Avishai hesitated. Was that what Rebbi meant? Not to give up because a game — or a person — wasn’t a novelty, wasn’t easy fun, was actually a lot more work than expected?
The game had started already. Avishai wouldn’t have a turn this recess. He might as well talk to the new boy.
Avishai slouched over. “Hey, Chezky.”
“Hello.” He concentrated on his soccer ball, not looking at Avishai at all.
Should Avishai mention Rebbi calling on Chezky? Say he felt sorry for him? Should he explain the rules of baseball again, so the new boy could play?
Chezky spoke first. “What are you wanted?”
He bounced the ball from knee to toe to knee.
Avishai winced. Broken English was hard to understand. “I want to learn the move you just did. With the ball.”
Chezky looked at him suspiciously. “For why? All the yesterdays no one playing my ball.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 749)
Oops! We could not locate your form.