If only I’d focused on Moshe from the beginning, I could have made a great shalach manos already
he truth is that the idea itself isn’t so bad.
It’s actually kinda fun. Or it would be, if only I’d picked someone else. Sighing, I walk into the den with a jumbo bag of pretzels to try and get my creative juices flowing. It’s what I’m famous for. Creative ideas, that is. I take some more pretzels, hoping ideas will come.
“Hey Aharon, what’s up? How come you’re not outside playing? It’s a gorgeous day.”
“Well, I would be,” I reply in a huff, throwing a few pretzels in the air, trying to catch them in my mouth. The bright sunshine streaming in through the large double window winks at me, teasing. “But I have something important to do.”
“Practice catching pretzels in your mouth? I think you’re better at catching balls in a mitt,” my know-it-all sister Shoshi laughs.
“Ha,” I shoot back. Although, actually, maybe I could pick her brain.
“Shosh, maybe you can help. You’re good at this stuff.,” I add, before she has a chance to refuse.
“Oh, okay,” she smiles. There’s nothing know-it-all sisters like better than being in the know.
“It’s like this.” The words come out in a rush now. “Two weeks ago, Rebbi came into class and told us that this year we’re only allowed to give one shalach manos. It has to be a nice one, and it should be as imaginative as we can make it. The catch is that we had to pick a name from a hat, well, actually, it was from a Purim mask, and we have to keep who we got a secret. Then, in two weeks, which is actually two days from now, we have to bring the shalach manos into class, and everyone is going to guess which shalach manos is for which boy.”
“Sounds pretty much like what most classes do,” Shoshi says.
“Yeah, I know,” I sigh again, balling up the now empty snack bag. “I guess the real problem is who I picked. I’m allowed to tell you, ‘cuz you’re not in our class. I picked Moshe Schultz.”
“Exactly!” I shout.
“Huh?” she seems a little confused.
“That’s the problem! Moshe Schultz is the quietest kid in the whole grade. He’s not good at sports and he doesn’t collect anything. I’ve thought and thought, and now I only have two days left to make something, otherwise I’ll ruin my reputation as a creative genius!”
“And he won’t have a nice shalach manos,” Shoshi adds pointedly.
“That’s beside the point,” I shout a little too loudly, maybe to cover the twinge of what might be guilt at my lack of consideration, but it could also be indigestion from the whole bag of pretzels I just devoured.
“Well, maybe you should be thinking of him for a change instead of only being worried about yourself,” she says patronizingly. “Like, what would he like to get?”
“Never mind!” I say and stomp up the stairs.
I decide that I’ll simply procrastinate a little longer and see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll go check on my Sherlock Holmes Purim costume. Thinking of my original costume brings a smile to my face, Moshe Schultz already out of my thoughts.
Halfway up the stairs, I pause. That’s it! For the next two days, I’ll be a super sleuth and follow Moshe everywhere to find out stuff about him. Then I’ll make the best shalach manos ever!
For the next 48 hours I’m a man, okay, kid with a mission.
Tuesday starts off pretty well. During recess I feign tiredness and stay inside so I can watch my subject. Hmm, okay, he likes pretzels — well, we would have had that in common if I could ever face them again after eating so many yesterday. I see him walk over to Duvy, who’s left his snack at home. Duvy gratefully takes a couple of the proffered pretzels.
During the last period, I manage to take a bathroom break the same time as Moshe. I don’t get much more material for my mission, but at least I get some fresh air for a few minutes. At one point Moshe stops in the hall, and my pulse speeds up. I’m sure something momentous is about to happen, but he only picks up some candy wrappers that are on the floor and throws them into the garbage. By now I’m so desperate that I decide to follow Moshe home.
“Hey, Aharon, you walking home?” my best friend Laizer asks.
“Um, yeah, I guess.” He must notice my unenthusiastic response because he looks at me and walks away.
“Hey, wait!” I call after him. “Sorry.”
“What’s up with you?” he asks quietly, “You’ve been acting weird lately.”
Impulsively, I decide to let him in on my mission.
“You’re crazy,” he tells me, like only a best friend can. “Everyone will like you no matter what shalach manos you give.
But Laizer doesn’t get it. He’s smart and a great ball player. He doesn’t need to be as creative as I do.
He must have noticed my downcast expression though, because he agrees to come with me.
We run after Moshe, but the afternoon is a waste of time. We see Moshe helping a little kid cross the road, waving to some old man, and then kissing the mezuzah as he goes inside his house. That’s it!
Dejected, I part ways with Laizer and trudge home. I absentmindedly grab a stick lying on the floor. If only the stick would turn into a snake, like Moshe Rabbeinu’s stick, that would be cool enough to take my mind off things.
I stop short and beam widely, suddenly sure of what I will give Moshe the next day. Much as I hate to admit it, Shoshi was right. If only I’d focused on Moshe from the beginning, I could have made a great shalach manos already — one that really reflects who he is. I run the rest of the way home; I have lots to do.
Purim in school is great! Shua made me an awesome shalach manos with a lightbulb, because I have so many creative ideas, he explains, which makes me feel great. Then it’s my turn to give.
I take out a long stick, like Moshe Rabbeinu’s, covered in nosh. “Moshe Schultz lives up to his namesake,” I explain. I describe how Moshe’s always careful to help others, by picking up garbage, smiling at an old man and sharing his nosh. “And he never shows off about it!” I finish off passionately. I realized that Shoshi and Laizer were right. It doesn’t really matter if what you do is the best — focusing on the other person is what counts. And you know what — I think I’ll make it my business to be friends with Moshe from now on.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 951)
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