| Win or Lose |

Win or Lose: Chapter 41

Yitzy was shocked. Why on earth would Mr. Greenbaum ask him such a silly question? Was this a joke?

"A s you now know,” began Mr. Greenbaum, “when I was younger, I spent some long, hard, years in Siberia.” He turned to Yitzy. “Do you remember what I told you about Siberia on the very first Shabbos that I came to your house?”

Yitzy’s mind jumped back to that Shabbos. “You told us that no matter how hard it was, you and your friends made sure to daven and learn together every day.”

Mr. Greenbaum smiled. “Yes, Yitzy,” he said. “Do you know why I told you that story?” He answered his own question. “You told me how hard it was for you to learn in class, Yitzy, so I told you how hard it was for me to learn in Siberia. I was hoping you would be inspired. I was hoping that my story would get you to try a little harder.”

Mr. Greenbaum paused to let his words sink in. “Unfortunately,” he continued, “I saw that my story didn’t help. You didn’t believe it was possible for Yitzy Levinson to learn and succeed.”

Yitzy swallowed hard and nodded his head. Mr. Greenbaum was right. He had never believed that he could succeed at learning.

“Yitzy,” continued Mr. Greenbaum. “Do you remember how I came to your house to tutor you?”

Yitzy smiled. He had been very upset that the old man had come to his house and tried to make him work hard.

“I did that to get you to try. I knew that if you really tried to learn, you would be very good at it. You had so much potential, but you didn’t want to use it. I knew that you had given up on the Mishnayos competition as soon as you heard about it. I just couldn’t let that happen.

“Yitzy,” he continued, “I am sure that by now you know how wealthy I am.”

Yitzy nodded his head. A few weeks ago, he would never have believed that the lonely old man living next door to him was rich. Now, however, he was very aware of how wealthy Mr. Greenbaum really was.

“As a boy, I was a happy young man with lots of friends. Unfortunately, all the years of hard work and starvation in Siberia changed me. By the time I was released, I was not the same person anymore. The coldness of Siberia had made my heart cold too. When I came to America, I decided that I would never be cold and hungry again. I was going to focus on making money.” Mr. Greenbaum stopped and sighed sadly. “I foolishly believed that making money was more important than having friends and a family.”

Mr. Greenbaum stopped and sighed again. “That was a terrible mistake.” He shook his head and continued. “Baruch Hashem, I was blessed with a good brain, and I used that brain to come up with all kinds of brilliant plans to make money. When I met you, Yitzy, I decided to use that same brain to do something good for a change. I used my brain to come up with my greatest plan ever: The plan to get Yitzy Levinson to learn.”

Yitzy looked up at Mr. Greenbaum in surprise. “A plan? For me?” he croaked.

“Yes, Yitzy,” Mr. Greenbaum chuckled. “Do you remember the day you saw me being wheeled out into the ambulance?”

A lump began to form in Yitzy’s throat as he remembered how scared he had been as he watched Mr. Greenbaum being wheeled into the ambulance.

“Yes, Mr. Greenbaum,” he said softly. “I remember. You looked so sick when they put you on the ambulance.”

Mr. Greenbaum smiled

“Yitzy,” he said, “do you remember what the ambulance looked like?”

Yitzy was shocked. Why on earth would Mr. Greenbaum ask him such a silly question? Was this a joke?

He looked at the old man’s face, but Mr. Greenbaum looked very serious.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 776)

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