“Think about it,” he continued. “Why do you think Mr. Greenbaum made up that whole contest in the first place?”
Yitzy couldn’t believe it. That’s it, he thought to himself, it’s all over. “I guess we live in Mr. Burtman’s building now,” he said.
He cringed as he thought of Mr. Burtman. That man had tried so hard to get Yitzy distracted by leaving all those toys at his door. It was a mean trick, but it didn’t matter anymore. In the end, Mr. Burtman had won and Yitzy had lost.
“So what happens now?” he asked his father.
Rabbi Levinson put his hand on Yitzy’s shoulder.
“What happens now Yitzy,” he answered, “is that b’ezras Hashem we go back to leading normal, happy lives. You didn’t really lose Mr. Greenbaum’s challenge, Yitzy.”
Yitzy looked up at his father in surprise.
“I didn’t?” he asked.
“No, not at all,” answered Rabbi Levinson. “Think about it,” he continued. “Why do you think Mr. Greenbaum made up that whole contest in the first place?”
Yitzy shrugged his shoulders. He had never really thought about why Mr. Greenbaum had made up a whole contest with his building as a prize.
“I’ll tell you why,” answered his father. “Mr. Greenbaum saw how much potential you have, and it frustrated him to see all your potential being wasted. You were smart, but you weren’t learning anything. That really bothered him. He made up that whole contest just to get you to try harder, and baruch Hashem you did. His plan worked. You did try harder, and you were more successful than you could have ever imagined.”
Rabbi Levinson paused and looked into Yitzy’s eyes. “So,” he continued, “even though you may not have won the building, I think that Mr. Greenbaum, wherever he is, would be very proud of how you did on both the Mishnayos competition and on the math test.”
Yitzy did not know what to say. His father’s words made a lot of sense. All Mr. Greenbaum had really wanted was for him to learn more, and he had.
Yitzy looked up at his father, and smiled. “I think you’re right,” he said softly. “Thank you. I feel much better now.”
Suddenly, Dassy came running into the dining room. “Yitzy,” she announced, “Yossi is waiting for you at the front door.”
“Why is Yossi here?” asked Mrs. Levinson.
“We made up to learn together like we’ve been doing for the last few weeks,” Yitzy answered.
Rabbi Levinson smiled. “You’re going to learn even though the contest is over?” he asked.
“Well,” answered Yitzy shyly, “we kind of realized that we enjoyed learning together, so we decided to keep doing it.”
Rabbi Levinson winked at his son. “Now that would make Mr. Greenbaum proud,” he said.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 772)