Tales of Yanky

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a 1. GETTING THROUGH THE DOORS OF LIFE

b 2. DON'T YOU HAVE TIME FOR ME?

c 3. YANKY THE BUILDER

d 4. THE FAILURE

e 5. YANKY AND THE HI-FI

f 6. YANKY AND THE INFLUENCES

g 7. YANKY AND THE ITCH

h 8. YANKY LABORS IN VAIN

i 9. THERE'S MORE AND MORE AND MORE AND.......

j 10. THE AEROPLANE

k 11. WHO IS COMING TO STAY

l 12. YANKY IS COMPLIMENTED

 

 

1. GETTING THROUGH THE DOORS OF LIFE

 

"I can't do it! I can't do it!"

 

Yanky's plaintive wails struck a chord of pity in the hearts of all who heard his voice, as it carried through the Scheiner house.

 

"I have to go to davening every morning! Every single morning! And I have so much homework! And I have to go over the Gemora over and over again and again and again! I can't do it all!

 

This last verse of Yanky's beseeching lament was nearly enough to bring tears to the eyes of those who heard him. - Nearly, but not quite enough. In fact, to be truthful, Yanky's audience were becoming a bit tired of the nightly routine.

 

And not just at night. "I can't do this!" and "I can't do that!" At any time of the day, you could expect to hear the siren start up.

 

Now, lets be fair. A person does have his limitations - even Yanky! How much can a man made of mortal flesh and blood be expected to do? And the list seemed to be getting longer and longer. Every day brought its new host of obligations. "Yanky do this!" and "Yanky do that!"

 

"Everyone else manages to do it!"

 

But the standard reply did not dent his insistence.

 

Brrring!, Brrrring!

 

Mr. Scheiner declared a cease-fire in what promised to be a classic battle of wits between himself and Yanky as he hurried to answer the shrill call of the telephone.

 

After some minutes of excited conversation, Mr. Scheiner put the telephone back on its cradle.

 

"Yanky! Do you feel like a visit to a really posh hotel?"

 

In a trice, Yanky was beside his father, ready to say "I can!"

 

"An old friend of mine just called me up to tell me that he was in town. He's staying at the `Super Regal Hotel' and I think I'll go round to see him now. Do you want to come with me?"

 

Yanky didn't need to reply. His beaming face said "Yes! Yes! Yes!" without his having to utter a word.

 

Quickly, father and son put their jackets on, said good-bye to the rest of the family and went out into the warm spring evening air.

 

Twenty minutes later, they drew-up in front of the grand portico of the ` Super Regal Hotel'. Mr. Scheiner put on the hand-brake of the car and they both leaned back into their soft leather seats to gaze at the opulent facade.

 

"I'll go and park the car, Yanky. Meanwhile, you go in and ask at the reception desk which room Mr. Yosef Gorgut is staying."

 

Yanky clambered out of the car and Mr. Scheiner drove round to the car-park, parked the car and walked back to the front of the building. He was surprised to see Yanky standing there in front of the entrance.

 

"Yanky! What's the matter? Why don't you go in?"

 

"I can't."

 

The standard answer took Mr. Scheiner completely by surprise, but he listened as Yanky continued.

 

"Look at the door. It's a sliding-door because there are no hinges and I can see the tracks. But the door has no handles and there is no sign of any way to open it. It's impossible to open the door. I just cannot get inside."

 

"So how did these other people get in there?"

 

Of course, he had also seen the figures of people moving around behind the ornately-engraved glass door. But Mr. Scheiner's question did not move Yanky's determined stand.

 

"There must be a side entrance. Let's go and look for it!"

 

But now it was his turn to be surprised, as his father burst out into laughter.

 

"Come, Yanky. Lets go for a walk." Mr. Scheiner took Yanky's hand and began walking --- straight towards the door.

 

When Yanky realized where his father was going, he tried to squirm out of his fathers gentle, but firm grasp.

 

With determined steps, Mr. Scheiner continued to walk forwards towards the thick glass wall in front of them.

 

"We can't do it, Daddy! We can't...."

 

Yanky's protests were suddenly cut short, as the doors silently slid open to allow them to enter.

 

They went in and turned back to watch as the doors closed behind them. Then they walked into the Reception Room, with the doors automatically swinging open as they approached.

 

Mr. Scheiner did not raise the subject of the doors until, one and a half hours later, they were, once again, parked in front of the Scheiner house.

 

"Noo, Yanky, what did you learn from our little trip, today?"

 

Yanky looked sheepish. He knew that he had been wrong to argue with his father. But how was he supposed to know about Hi-Tech automatic doors?

 

Mr. Scheiner smiled at his son. He seemed to be reading his mind. "Of course, I realize that you have never seen an automatic door before and I realize that I could not expect you to know about the special optical sensing system which these doors use to detect when someone is approaching which triggers the relays and motors which open the doors."

 

"But," he continued, "The designers know that there are many people like you who don't know about these doors, but they assume that even if the person sees that the doors don't have any handles, the person will continue to walk towards the door to try to get in. Then, when they get close, the automatic system takes over and the door opens by itself."

 

"I know what you're going to say, Daddy." Yanky turned to face his father. "You're going to say that this world is full of automatic doors. Right?"

 

This time, his father's broad smile told him that he was on the right track.

 

"I know. Rabbi Gutgebber is always telling us that this is a world of trying. We have to try and the Aibishter takes care of everything else."

 

"Absolutely right, Yanky. And if we wouldn't have tried to go into the hotel, we would never have been able to collect this little parcel."

 

Mr. Scheiner took out of his pocket the thick brown envelope which Yanky had seen Mr. Gorgut give his father. He opened it and pulled out a shiny, new digital watch.

 

"My friend works in watches and I had asked him to get me a really good one which should last you a long time. You see, if you try, you can sometimes get more than you expect!"

 

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2. DON'T YOU HAVE TIME FOR ME?

 

Weeeeeeeeee!

 

The sound of the drill seemed to go through Mrs. Scheiner's teeth. She tried to keep her mind on the washing-up, but she couldn't help imagining that she was sitting in the dentist's chair with her mouth open wide, staring up at the big bright light above the drill.

 

Bang! Bang! Bang! The blows of the hammer seemed to be aimed right ontop of her head. Wow! What a time poor Mrs. Scheiner was having as she tried to do her housework.

 

Weeeeeeee! Yes, Mr. Scheiner was enjoying himself as he put his new drill to good use. There were loads of jobs he had been saving up for when he got his replacement for the old, worn-out drill which he had used for years. The new drill was a really modern piece of equipment - multi-speed, rachet-chuck and reversible. You could use it to power anything from a screwdriver to a pump, as well as the usual things like drilling, sanding and sawing.

 

Mr. Scheiner had been building-up a whole list of jobs to do, furniture to repair, shelves to make and cupboards to build, etc., etc., the list seemed to get longer and longer as time went by. Now, with drill in hand and Yanky at his side as his worthy assistant, work could commence.

 

Weeeeee! Again, Mrs, Scheiner teeth seeto vibrate at the sound.

 

WeeeeeGrrrrrr! Oops! Whatis that sound? It does not sound too healthy for a new drill. Mr. Scheiner switched off the machine and started it again.

 

Grrrrr! This time, sparks flew out from the side of the barrel and the drill became silent.

 

Again, Mr. Scheiner switched off the machine and started it again.

 

Nothing happened. Yanky looked down at the gleaming piece of shiny metal. Just a minute ago, it had seemed the epitome of power and utility. Now, it lay lifeless, a piece of expensive scrap-metal.

 

As Yanky looked and philosophized, Mr. Scheiner began rummaging around in the box.

 

"What are you looking for, Daddy?" Yanky asked.

 

"I'm looking for the receipt and guarentee. We'll go straight back to the store and get it fixed."

 

So, they put the drill in its box, got into their car and drove off to Mr. Garmer's Hardware And Tools store.

"Oh! Dear! This should never have happened!" Mr. Garmer was genuinely shocked. "I'll send it off straight away. Phone me in a few days and I'll let you know when you can collect it"

 

Some days later, Mr. Scheiner phoned Mr. Gramer.

 

"Oooh! I'm so sorry, Mr. Scheiner. You cannot imagine how busy I have been. I completely forgot to send off your drill. Please forgive me. I'll send it off immediately. Please phone me again in a few days."

 

A week passed by.

 

"Oh! Um! Um! I am most terribly sorry. You cannot imagine how busy I have been, and I am really sorry. It just slipped my mind. I'll go right now and send off the drill and I'll phone you as soon as it comes back. Is that okay, Mr. Scheiner? Mr. Scheiner! Hello! Hello! Are you there? "

 

For Yanky, this was a memorable telephone call, because he had never seen his father blow his top before.

 

"Mr. Garmer. What were you so busy with? You were busy with customers! Right? So why couldn't you find time for me? What I needed `slipped your mind' and you forgot. Right? So I don't count as a customer! Right?"

 

Yanky admired his father's style and delivery. He started off quietly and slowly built up to a crescendo of powerful logic. Right?

 

"Now, look here, Mr. Garmer, it's been nearly two weeks since I gave you back the drill and this is the second time that you have insulted me by telling me that other customers are more important to you than I am. I'm giving you one more chance, and I hope for your sake that you will get the drill fixed immediately!"

 

Mr. Scheiner slammed down the handset and sunk down into the big wooden chair next to the phone. With a long face, he looked at Yanky.

 

"Daddy, Why are you so upset? After that lecture he's sure to make sure the drill gets fixed very soon." asked Yanky.

 

"Oh! It's not the drill I'm worried about, Yanky. It's me!" Mr. Scheiner moaned softly. "Do you realize what I said to Mr. Garmer?"

 

Yanky could have repeated every word of that memorable conversation, but Mr. Scheiner did not wait.

 

"I had a complaint against Mr. Garmer that he has time for everybody, except for me. So what is Hashem Yisboruch going to say about me? I have time for my work and I have time for this and for that. But do I find enough time to learn Torah and do mitzvos?"

 

Yanky was not used to hearing his father talk like this and it made him feel very uncomfortable. He went over the telephone conversation in his mind. And he began to feel even more uncomfortable. Of course, his father was correct. How many times did he `forget' to do this or `forget' to do that mitzvah. How many times had he `forgotten' to go over the Gemora, but remembered to get a new book to read from the `Torah Library'.

 

The wind of depression from Yanky began to blow over towards Mr. Scheiner.

 

"No! No! We mustn't get depressed, Yanky! We must be positive and use this incedent to help us. So what do you think we should do?"

 

Deep thought furrowed Yanky's brow.

 

"Well, first, I think that we should forgive Mr. Garmer, because we cannot be annoyed with him over somethink which we do ourselves."

 

"Good idea, Yanky. I'll 'phone him straight away and apologize."

 

"And I think that you should remind me about this whenever you see that I'm `forgetting'." continued Yanky.

 

"So let's make a secret word which can use to remind each other!"

 

"I know!" shouted Yanky, "We can say `Haven't you got any time for me?'"

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3. YANKY THE BUILDER

 

"Where's my hammer?" Yanky's urgent cry echoed through the Sheiner house.

 

"Why do you want your hammer, Yanky?" Mrs. Scheiner's voiced lacked the tone of panic which it usually has when the hammer is mentioned. A hammer can be used to make or to break. And, whichever it does, it usually leaves a mess. But, today, Mrs. Scheiner did not fear a mess. Even Yanky, the Master Messmaker, could not have enough time to make a mess if he had to be at work in five minutes.

 

"I need my hammer for my work!" Yanky's tone of frustration made it quite obvious that his job required the use of a hammer - and he was right.

 

Mr. Rothschild had advertised for an odd-job man to do repair-work at his factory for six weeks. The applicant was to be an expert at repairing furniture and sundry wooden articles used in the factory. And Yanky had six weeks holiday from school. This was the perfect match!

 

At the interview, Mr.Rothschild had been as impressed by Yanky as Yanky was by Mr. Rothschild. The Boss was seated behind his massive mahogany desk. No less than five telephones sat ontop, separating piles of cardboard files, ledgers and books. Flanking him were two screens, one from the computor and one from the video-camera showing different parts of the factory. He had not really expected such a young applicant for the job, but the vacancy was only for six weeks and he was a man who was interested in results - not about details on a birth-certificate.

 

"Can you fix wobbly tables so they don't shake? Can you make a dovetail joint? Do you know how to glue a chair together? Can you handle a saw? Can you bang in a nail without smashing your thumb and landing me with a bill for $1000 Industrial Damages?"

 

Yanky was non-plussed by the barrage of questions. He told Mr. Rothschild straight. He was a veteren of thousands of repairs. He could tackle anything - even a dovetail joint, when he'd find out what it is. And he had passed the stage of bashing his thumb with the hammer.

 

As Mr. Rothschild looked at him, Yanky felt that his whole life was hanging on the Big Decision. He felt as if Mr. Rothschild was reviewing his whole past life, all the jobs he had ever done for his mother and father and neighbours and friends. And he thought of all the repairs he had messed-up and covered over and pretended that he had repaired them properly and all the times that he had even damaged the piece a little bit more and not said anything about it to the owner. Now, Yanky truly regretted them all

 

"If he gives me the job," Yanky had resolved with all his heart, "I will do each job perfectly, and if I cannot, then I will tell him and not try to fool him."

 

Mr. Rothschild seemed to be able to read Yanky's mind, because, at that moment, his stern look seemed to clear.

 

" Okay, Yanky. Clock-in on Monday at 8.30 and we'll give you a try."

 

And now it was Monday morning at 8.25 with the factory five minutes walk away, and Yanky is looking for his hammer.

 

"Oh, Yanky! They must have a hammer at the factory! Do you think they cannot afford to have a hammer there? I'm sure they will have everything you need!"

 

Yanky had to acceed to his mother's sarcasm. Of course, she was right. It would be unthinkable that a million-doller concern could not afford to have everything he was likely to need. If there was something that they did not have, they could send someone out to get it.

 

So, Yanky put back his saw and packet of nails and tin of screws and his set of screwdrivers and collection of those little plastic things and set off for work, confident that Mr. Rothschild could supply him with everything he would need for his job.

 

After jostling through the crowds of workers going throuthe iron gates of the factory rounds, Yanky looked for his name amongst the rows of cards by the entrance. There! His cardseemed to beckon to him as the name `Yaakov Scheiner' caught his eye. Quickly, he withdrew the card from its sheath, inseit into the slot below the clock dial and pressed the lever. Yanky looked at the figures stamped onto his card. 08.33 Yanky had clock-in for the first time in his life. Now he was a real worker.

 

The supervisor saw the new employee. "Hi, Yanky! I'll take you to where you have to work and help you get settled." And he led him to the Repair Shop. There certainly was a lot of work to do. Stacked on one side were brocken tables, chairs, benches and cupboards. On one wall were rows and rows of the most fantastic array of tools Yanky had ever seen. And on a third side was a massive workbench with sets of little drawers full of an unbelievable selection of nails, screws and everything else a carpenter could possibly need.

 

The first thing Yanky reckoned he would need was a good supply of nails. He soon found the little drawer. And there were very few nails there. What should he do? Suddenly, his eyes caught a glint from the floor. He looked down. There were nails on the floor. He started to pick them up. But each one was bent. Now, a bent nail is no problem for an experienced carpenter like Yanky. Quickly, he picked up a handful and started to hammer them back into shape. When he had straightened them all, he picked up another load and got work on them. Several hours later, he was surprised to see Mr. Rothschild himself standing by his side.

 

"Well, Yanky, how is the work going?"

 

Yanky gloated over his hoard with pride. "Look at all these nails I have collected." Yanky showed him the huge piles of nails arranged on the workbench, each one perfectly straight and all sorted according to size.

 

Mr. Rothschild surveyed the proud collection. As he looked, his face got redder and redder. "Is this what I hired you for? Do you think I need all these nails? If I needed nails I would have bought as much as I want. In fact, I already have as much as I need in my stores. I hired you to repair furniture. And you have been wasting your time and my time banging these old nails straight."

 

Poor Yanky reeled back under the onslaught.

 

"In future, if you think you need more, you should ask me first. Meanwhile, you can assume that you have got everything you need. Unless you are afraid that I cannot afford to buy some nails!"

 

That last comment, with its heavy tone of sarcasm really hurt. Yanky turned away as he bit back the tears from his eyes. A worker does not cry.

 

By the time Yanky regained his composure, Mr. Rothschild had left. Yanky selected a chair from the pile and got work. Its condition did not seem too bad. Some glue at the joints, a few bangs with the hammer to fit the pieces together and a couple of nails at crucial points should make it like new again. Quickly, he located the glue and spread a few drops inside the joins. Then he took the wooden mallet and gave the chair a few sharp taps.

 

Bang! Bang! Bong! Bong! Hey! That sounded good! Yanky did it again. Bang! Bang! Bong! Bong! Wooden drums! Yanky always liked playing the drums and he always regretted that his mother would never let him have his own set. He looked around. No-one was in earshot who could complain that he was giving him a headache. Bang! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bang! Yanky looked around for a long piece of wood for a base-drum. Then he found a small piece with the tone of a kettle-drum.

 

Baaang! Bong! Bong! Bing! Bing! Bang! That was it -The Genuine Patented All-Wooden Drum Kit. Then Yanky set to work tuning it, sawing off bits of wood from here and from there until each piece of wood had the precise tone he required. Finally, when all was ready, he found another mallet and started practising. Time passed quickly. Such fun!

 

Again, Yanky did not notice Mr. Rothschild coming into the workshop. But when he did see him, the ashen white colour his face became contrasted sharply with the fiery red of Mr. Rothschild's face.

 

"Come here, Yanky." Mr. Rothschild led Yanky over to the rows of tools covering the wall. "You see these tools? Well, there here to be used for my work. Whilst you're here, you can use them to earn yourself some good wages. When you leave, they stay here. If you used them well, your dollars will be waiting for you. If you play around with them, you won't get a cent."

 

Mr. Rothschild turned on his heels and left without saying another word. He did not need to. Yanky looked back at his drum-kit. The bits of wood had lost their glamour. They looked cold and unfriendly. They mocked him. "Fool!" they seemed to say. "You wasted your time on us. You enjoyed yourself, but you will get nothing from it." He turned back to the rows of tools. "Come!" they seemed to cry. "Use us for your work and you will enjoy yourself and earn your wages."

 

Yanky set to with renewed vigour. By the end of the day he had repaired three chairs, two tables and was half way through a big cupboard and as happy as could be. Yes, he trully earned his wages and he thoroughly enjoyed himself hammering and sawing and gluing and sanding. He really felt that special feeling of satisfaction which a person gets when he is doing his job well.

 

That evening, over supper, Yanky related the day's events to his father.

 

"Good Yomtov! Yanky!" his father remarked when he had finished his story.

 

Mrs. Scheiner's brow furrowed in perplexity. "Its not a yomtov today!"

 

"Well, Yanky has just gone through Rosh Hashonah, Yom Kippur, Succos and Simchus Torah." replied Mr. Scheiner

 

Mrs. Scheiner's perplexity turned into frustration. "Please don't talk in riddles! What are you talking about?"

 

Mr. Scheiner laughed. "You see, when Yanky was standing in front of Mr. Rothschild, applying for a job, he was doing what we all do on Rosh Hashonah. On Rosh Hashonah we ask the Big Boss to grant us another job for the coming year. When he realised that his past record did not quite live up to the job he was asking for, he was going through a sort of Yom Kippur, when we regret our past misdeeds and accept upon ourselves to be good."

 

"But I didn't work in a Succah!" interjected Yanky.

 

"Right, Yanky." Mr. Scheiner replied. "But what does the Succah teach us? It teaches us that we have everything in this world only to use for the job we have been given. When we leave the world, we don't take any of it with us - only the wages for doing our work properly. What looks permanent to us is really only temporary. A person feels that his home here on this world is permanent, but it isn't. So the Succah reminds us that we are here only while he have our job to do. It's only a temporary home for earning as much wages as we can for our life in the next world - Olom Habo."

Mrs. Scheiner nodded. "That's why we read the megilla Koheles. King Solomon was an expert at amassing great wealth and he really knew that it is all pointless unless it is for the right purpose."

 

"Right! Vanity of vanities! It's all a waste of time, unless it used for mitzvos," agreed Mr. Scheiner.

 

"Now I understand why Simchas Torah comes after Succos!" Yanky jumped up and down in his seat with excitement. "Because when a person is doing his job properly, he is really happy. And our job is to learn Torah and do mitzvos."

 

"Right, again. Realising that this world is temporary gives us a true sense of values. So then we appreciate how fortunate we are to have the best Boss, the best job, and the best wages."

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4. THE FAILURE

 

He sat hunched over the table, text-books and exercise books spread all around. Homework time was not Yanky's most pleasant time of day, especially when algebra was on the menu. (A + B)ý = ? As much as Yanky's great mind pondered the problem, he just could not work it out. The brain which played with Relativity and plumbed the depths of e = mc2ý was foiled by a simple equation which any 12-year-old could understand.

 

It did not take Yanky long to reach his inevitable conclusion. He decided that he is just not cut-out for these trivial, mundane levels of Mathematics. Obviously, the Yanky mind is designed to grasp higher concepts of Time andSpace and Metaphysics. But, as his imagination went into orbit, a sharp pain in his left thumb brought him bacto earth.

 

"Mummy! Mummy! Look at my thumb! I need those antibiotics!"

 

Together, Mrs. Scheiner and Yanky inspected the angry red, swollen thumb.

 

"Yes. I think you are right, Yanky. Dr. Feldman told us that after he had taken out the splinter it might become infected, so we had better get the antibiotics he prescribed. Here, take the prescription to Mr. Rokeach straight away."

 

Five minutes later, the astringent, lightly-perfumed air of Rokeach's Pharmacy tickled Yanky's nose. He scanned the shelves of bottles, boxes and tubs. Is there anywhere as sparkling clean as the inside of a pharmacy?

 

"Yes, Yanky! What made you miss school today?" Mr. Rokeach's pleasant expression indicated that he was genuinely concerned and not criticizing Yanky in any way.

 

Yanky used his left hand to pass his prescription over the counter. His tactics produced the desired effect.

 

"Oh my! That is a nasty infection! You certainly need antibiotics straight away. Let me see which type your doctor prescribed."

 

"I suppose he prescribed penicillin." commented Yanky, just to show Mr. Rokeach that he was knowledgeable in pharmaceuticals, as well as all the other fields in which he was an acknowledged expert.

 

Mr. Rokeach smiled at Yanky's precociousness. "Actually, Dr. Feldman prescribed sodium cloxicillin. It is much more powerful than penicillin and less people are allergic to it." He turned around to look for the medicine.

 

"You know, penicillin was originally discovered by accident." Mr. Rokeach liked chatting with Yanky. "Yes. A research chemist called Alexander Fleming was preparing a culture of bacteria when a spore of a fungus flew in though the window and landed on his petri dish. After a couple of days, Fleming noticed that all the bacteria near the spore had died. So he grew the mould and isolated the chemical which killed the bacteria. And that chemical is what we now call penicillin."

 

Yanky followed most of the story, but his brow was still furrowed when Mr. Rokeach returned to the counter.

 

"We're out of sodium cloxicillin, but I have to go to the factory now anyway to pick up more supplies, so I'll get more of that as well. You know what?"

 

Yanky didn't know, so he waited patiently.

 

"Would you like to come with me to the factory?"

 

Can you imagine Yanky turning down an offer like that? But wait! His mother was expecting him home in a few minutes.

 

"Of course I'd like to come." The shine in Yanky's eyes confirmed his acceptance. "But my Mother is expecting me home now and I have to ask permission first."

 

"Of course! Here! Let's phone home and I'll speak to your mother. Anyway, you would have to wait for me to come back because you definitely need the antibiotics."

 

Fifteen minutes later, the massive green gates of Nostrum Pharmaceuticals rolled back on their bogies allowing Mr. Rokeach, with Yanky, to drive into the huge factory courtyard. Leaving their car parked by the goods entrance, Mr. Rokeach and Yanky passed through a double set of glass doors and entered the foyer. Once again, an astringent smell, albeit without perfume, tickled Yanky's nose. He looked around. The whole building seemed to sparkle from cleanliness. No self-respecting germ would dare show its face!

 

"You know what, Yanky?" Mr. Rokeach didn't wait for a reply, "I will be a few minutes making-up my order. Meanwhile, you can wander around, but meet me here in a quarter of an hour. Okay?"

 

Yanky nodded his agreement and began his Famous Exploration Of Nostrum Pharmaceuticals. The first floor was full of offices, filing rooms and other boring places. Ignoring the lifts, which always gave him claustrophobia, Yanky went up a large circular staircase to the second floor. This was more to his liking. There were large airy rooms full of equipment, the likes of which he had never seen before. People in spotlessly white coats were sitting over instruments, or scurrying around with manilla folders and bits of paper.

 

"Good morning, young man. I am Dr. Train. Can I help you?"

 

Yanky looked around and saw a grey-haired man with a clipped moustache, of course wearing a white coat and carrying a brown manilla folder.

 

"Good morning!" Yanky replied politely, "What is everyone doing here?"

 

"This is the research department. This is where we develop new products." Dr. Train replied.

 

"Don't you just leave the window open and wait for things to blow in through the window?" asked Yanky.

 

The man laughed at Yanky's reference to the discovery of penicillin. "It's not that easy. Even after he discovered penicillin, Fleming and a whole team had to work very hard to develop it into a usable medicine which could be manufactured commercially. But chance discoveries like that are very rare. Most come through hard work and trying, trying and trying again"

 

As Dr. Train was talking, Yanky was looking around. "So you must make loads of discoveries here and produce hundreds of new medicines!"

 

Again, the man laughed. "Actually, if we develop one or two new products in one year, we are very happy. Most experiments which we perform are not successful."

 

This answer shocked Yanky. "That must make you awfully depressed. Do they pay you if an experiment fails?"

 

"Of course they do." Yanky's third question raised a third smile. "We learn from our mistakes and it is all part of the job. We try our best, and sometimes we even surprise ourselves. Sometimes we are working for one product, and something else pops out which we didn't expect, which turns out to be even better than what we were working for."

 

"But still, failure is failure!" Yanky tried to drive home his point.

 

"No, my friend, you're making a big mistake." Dr. Train became more serious. "Whenever you attempt to do something, you must always take into account the possibility that you will fail. If you learn from your mistakes, then each failure is a step towards success."

 

"So a failure is really a success?"

 

Yanky's comment raised another laugh. "True." Dr. Train conceded, "But I must admit that I do prefer a successful success to a failure success."

 

At that moment Yanky's eye caught sight of a clock on the wall of one of the rooms."Wow! 15 minutes have gone already! I'm sorry, I have to meet Mr. Rokeach now. Thank you for telling me all about the experiments and I hope you have lots of successful successes."

 

The two shook hands and Yanky ran back to the foyer. There, Mr. Rokeach was already waiting for him and soon they were driving back home. Mr. Rokeach dropped Yanky off outside his house with his box of pills.

 

"Hello! Mummy! I'm home with my sodium cloxicillin!" Like a flood bursting its dam, Yanky poured out his experiences at Nostrum Pharmaceuticals. Eventually, Mrs. Scheiner was able to calm her son down and get him to listen to her.

 

"First, take one of the pills; then, let's have some lunch; then, you should go over the Gemora you learnt yesterday."

 

Some time later, the sweet sound of Yanky learning Gemora could be heard in the Scheiner household - for a while. After five minutes, Yanky got stuck. He read through the Gemora, not once, not twice, but five times! He just could not understand what the Gemora was talking about.

 

Oh dear! The Great Yanky Mind, which can read through entire books, understand five-syllable words, converse with Research Chemists, is foiled by one line of Gemora! Our Yanky can expound on Halacha, debate on Philosophy, but it looks like he has not been endowed with the ability to learn Gemora. His friends can learn Gemora! Boys two years younger than he can learn Gemora. Boys who not half as clever as he is, can learn Gemora. But Yanky cannot learn Gemora!

 

As Yanky was enjoying himself, wading in self-pity, preparing his tear-ducts for a shoof self-indulgent tears, the door-bell rung.

 

"Yanky! It's Uncle Avromie!"

 

Like a shot, Yanky was out of his chair to open the door for his favourite uncle. It didn't take long for Uncle Avromie to find himself seated by the open Gemora.

 

"Can you tell me what the Gemorais talking abo, Uncle Avromie? It's very hard and I'm no good at learning Gemora and can't work it out at all!"

 

After looking at the page for a few minutes, Uncle Avromie turned to his favourite nephew. "I think you can work it out for yourself. There are no hard words. Have a go!"

"But I can't. I've tried and I've tried and I've tried and I just cannot. I don't have the sort of mind you need to learn Gemora." With a final wail of despair, Yanky burst into tears.

 

Uncle Avromie waited patiently until the shower stopped. "Look, as I said, the words are not hard. Make a guess. What do you think it can mean?"

 

"But I told you! What's the point of guessing if it's going to be wrong? Why should I waste time in saying something that is going to make you laugh at me?" Yanky protested.

 

"So what would be so terrible if you were wrong? Are you such a genius that you can expect to always be right? Are you a bigger Talmid Chochom than Rabbi Akiva Eiger?" Uncle Avromi didn't wait for an answer. "Look here at the Gilyon haShass. On nearly every page, he asks questions which the greatest Rabbonim find hard to answer. Doesn't Tosfos sometimes say `I don't understand'? Do you think all the right answers come flying in through the window? You've got to work at it. If you try, sometimes you will be wrong, but if you don't try, you will always be wrong!"

 

As he was talking, Uncle Avromi's voice went up in volume, and by the time he had finished, he saw that Yanky had got the message. That last comment gave Yanky a jolt. He turned back to the Gemora and looked at it for a few minutes. Then he suggested what it meant.

 

"Good!" commented Uncle Avromi. "What you said makes sense, but the way you explained it, that word should have a lamed - which means `to' - as a prefix and actually it has a mem there which means `from'. Now try again."

 

Yanky's brow furrowed as he thought again. Then he tried a different explanation.

 

"Good. That is excellent. Now see if you can think of another explanation."

 

Again, Yanky's head went down, to come up a few minutes later with another idea.

 

"This is also excellent. The first explanation you gave is like Tosfos and the second one is like the RASHBO. You see! If you try, and don't get upset if you make a mistake, but try to learn from the mistake, then there's no reason why you should not be at least as good as anyone else."

 

Yanky smiled as Uncle Avromie's words seemed to echo the conversation he'd had with Dr. Train. "Every failure brings you a step closer to success, if you learn from it!"

 

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5. YANKY AND THE HI-FI

 

It wasn't often that Mr. Scheiner went shopping. It was even rarer that he took Yanky with him. But today he was going shopping for something special: a hi-fi set.

 

"Do you want to come with me, Yanky?"

 

Yanky was in his jacket and cap before the sentence was over.

 

"Yanky's got a good ear for music," said Mr. Scheiner to Mrs. Scheiner, "So he'll be able to help me choose a good quality set."

 

The store was full of radios, taperecorders, record-players, and all sorts of electronic gadgets. The sight dazzled them both, father and son, and for a few minutes they just walked around the store getting their eyes used to the sight. A young salesman sidled up to them, "Can I help you, sir?"

 

"Yes, I hope so," replied Mr. Scheiner, "we're looking for a good hi-fi set. You know, record players and loudspeakers, preferably stereo. I don't want anything flashy, just good tone at a reasonable price."

 

The salesman looked around. "We do have a set that is inexpensive but a good value. Here!" He led them to a stand on which was displayed a bright orange plastic record player with golden knobs. "Would you like to hear it?"

 

Mr. Scheiner nodded. The salesman got a record of some symphony and put it on the record-player. The music started, and it didn't take long before a disgusted look appeared on Yanky's face. "It's horrible. So tinny, and there's such a loud hiss on the background all the time. I don't like it."

 

The salesman smiled, "So you know what your listening to."

 

Mr. Scheiner nodded. "Oh yes, " he said. "He's got a good ear for music. That's why I brought him along. And he's right. It doesn't sound at all good."

 

The man led them along to another stand. "This one is quite a lot more expensive, but I think it's the best of its type." The brown teak case with silver knobs looked quietly impressive. They watched the reocord revolve on the turntable, and the sound which came out reached their expectation. What a difference! The tone was much richer, and they could hear no background noise at all. "This is really good," said Yanky.

 

"Yes," said Mr. Scheiner, "How much is it?"

 

"This one is $225. The other one is only $89."

 

Mr. Scheiner swallowed hard.

 

"But Daddy!" exclaimed Yanky, "the tone on this one is fabulous. It's the best I've ever heard. I don't think it's possible to get a better quality tone than this - is it?" he asked the salesman.

 

The salesman smiled and looked around the store. No one had

 

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6. YANKY AND THE INFLUENCES

 

Don't get me wrong! Yanky had the greatest respect for Rabbi Gutgebber. It was Yanky who always made sure that the Rabbi had a Schtender for his lesson. And whenever he had one of his coughing spells, before you could say `Mesillas Yeshorim', Yanky was there with a steaming hot cup of coffee. But some of the things he said in his regular mussar Shiurim just did not seem to make sense.

 

Of course, you must be good and do mitzvos and you must not do avairos. And you have to learn Torah and you must not waste time. And you must be kind to your friend and you must not gossip and be a tell-tale. And the list seems to go on and on. And with every lesson, Rabbi Gutgebber seems to find more and more to do. Not that Yanky was one to complain. On the contrary, The more mitzvos, the more the reward. But the last lesson just did not seem to make sense to him.

 

Surely, if you learn Torah, so you know it. For example, Yanky had once learnt fifty Mishnayos by heart. And now, he was beginning to learn Gemora by heart. But Rabbi Gutgebber had said that some things can make you forget, and they make you get mixed-up and spoil your understanding. But how can that be? If you know it, you know it!

 

And such funny things! Like reading bad books, or looking at bad things, or having bad friends. Of course, you must not have or do any of these bad things - but what does it have to do with the Torah you have already learnt? Why do they get you mixed-up and forget your Torah?

 

Now, as you know, when Yanky starts to worry about something, it really worries him. He thought about it on the way home (but he made sure to keep his eyes down so that he should not see anything bad). And he thought about it during supper (but he was sure that his Mummy would not give him anything bad to eat).

 

After supper, he wondered what he he should do (because he did not want to do anything bad). Then his eyes alighted upon his Daddy's old, broken taperecorder. If there was anything which was guaranteed to keep Yanky out of trouble, it was taking things apart. Yanky was particularly keen to get to the loudspeaker. Because, inside the speaker is a powerful Magnet. And with a powerful magnet, you can do all sorts of useful tricks.

 

There was the time that Yanky's Mummy had dropped her tin of pins near the sewing-machine.

 

"Oy Veh!', she had cried, "It will take me hours to pick all these up!"

 

But, just then, Yanky had with him the magnet he had taken from the old radio. So he bent down, and in exactly two minutes forty-seven seconds (timed on his new watch) Yanky had picked up each one of the millions of pins.

 

Now, Yanky ran to fetch his set of screwdrivers and he got to work on the taperecorder. Nothing made by humans could withstand the onslaught of Yanky and his screwdrivers. Yanky attacked with the skill of a veteran commander. Years of experience, and hundreds of dismembered gadgets (including the aforementioned sewing-machine, but the Scheiners prefer not to be reminded athat) had taught Yanky that you cannot rush into these jobs. A campaign must be planned. First, you must survey the site. Then you decide which screws must be unscrewed first. And gradually, you take it apart.

 

The hours went by quickly. Yanky worked with the skill of surgeon doing open-heart surgery. Until, at last, Yanky emerged, triumphant, holding aloft his precious magnet. All the family were unanimous in their appreciation of Yanky's great achievement (and for the several hours of peace they had had whilst he was working). But, now, where should he put his treasure? He needed to put it somewhere safe. Ah! He thought of the perfect place.

 

"Daddy, I'm putting the magnet in the drawer with all the cassettes!" he called cheerily as he headed for the living-room.

 

It sounded like a combination of a siren, a volcano erupting and a tornado hitting the centre of town..............But, actually, it was Mr. Scheiner.

 

"Get away from my recordings!"

 

Nebbich! Poor Yanky didn't know what hit him. His face went white as he stopped on his tracks. "Wa...Wa...Whats wrong?" he managed to stutter.

 

"Don't put that magnet near the cassettes!" roared Yanky's Daddy, "You will ruin them all."

 

Now Yanky was really mystified. "How can this magnet ruin your recordings, Daddy?"

 

By now, Mr. Scheiner could see that Yanky was walking back, away from the living-room, and from his valuable collection of tapes, so he could afford to cool down and answer his son's innocent enquiry.

 

"I thought you knew, Yanky." he started to explain. "The magnet makes a magnetic field around it and if a cassette gets into the field, it will ruin the recording."

 

Yanky looked at the magnet in his hand. He didn't see any fields near it. He didn't see how this little lump of iron could do any damage to anything (unless he threw it at something - and he hadn't planned to waste it on that).

 

"I can see you don't believe me." smiled Mr. Scheiner, as he made his way to the drawer where he kept all his recordings. He shuffeled through them and eventually pulled out a shabby-looking cassette.

 

"Here, listen to this." He slipped the cassette into the tapedeck and turned it on. Yanky heard some conversation, but he did not know what they were talking about.

 

"Now, give me that magnet, please." Mr. Scheiner took the dreaded magnet from Yanky, removed the cassette from the deck and he put it next to the magnet. Then, he slipped the cassette back into the deck and turned it on again. Yanky was amazed at the difference. He could hardly hear anything now. He looked at his magnet with a new respect.

 

What could he do now? Yanky dropped the magnet into his trouser pocket, where it clunked against his collection of screws, bent nails and old paper-clips. And there it stayed for several days. And as he went to and from school, Yanky had this odd feeling about the strange, destructive magnetic fields he was carrying around with him. Perhaps he was damaging people as he went close to them! And, of course, they could have no idea that he was carrying the source of the fields.

 

Then, on Thursday afternoon, just as he had returned home from school, there was a knock at the door. It was his favourite Uncle Avromi.

 

"I've just run out of paper for my computor and I'm going over to the Computor Store to buy a new supply. Would Yanky like to come with?"

 

Huh! He'd love to come with! Yanky was a registered gadget addict, and the Computor Store was his favourite haunt - when he got the chance to go there. Yanky jumped in the car next to his Uncle and they drove off to the Store.

 

Ten minutes later, they were parked outside the Store. Yanky got out of the car and together they walked inside. But just as they stepped through the doorway, a bell sounded and a light started flashing. In an instant, two burly assistants were by their side.

 

"Excuse me sirs, but can you please come with us." Neither Uncle Avromi nor Yanky felt like arguing, as the two assistants led them to a side-room off the main showroom.

 

"We're sorry to trouble you like this, but as you walked in, you triggered our magnetic-field detector. Perhaps one of you is carrying a powerful magnet?"

 

Yes! They had caught up with our Yanky. Reluctantly, Yanky dug his hand deep into his cavernous pocket, pulled out his speakermagnet and handed it to one of the assistants. "I....I....I didn't mean to harm you with it." he stuttered.

 

The assistants smiled. "Oh, you couldn't harm us, but you could have done thousands of dollars worth of damage to the software we sell here!"

 

Once again, Yanky was mystified, so one of the assistants continued. "You see, the computor software we sell here is recorded on magnetic discs and we have to protect them from bad magnetic influences, otherwise it can mess up the information in the programs or erase them completely - make them forget!"

 

That was it! As the words came out of the mouth of the assistant, Yanky realized what had been nagging at him at the back of his mind. Those were the very words of Rabbi Gutgebber. Here we have a bad influence - which you cannot see - and which can mess up information - and can make the tapes and discs forget!

 

So it can be the same thing with Torah. A person can learn Torah. But if he is not careful to keep away from bad influences, they can mess up his information, or even make him forget!

 

Of course, Yanky always knew that Rabbi Gutgebber was always right. But as he left the store holding Uncle Avromi's rolls of paper, the assistant gave him back his magnet. And Yanky now realized that he also has to make his own alarm system to protect his Torah from bad influences.

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7. Yanky and the Itch

 

What an itch! Just between the big toe and the next one. Yanky gave a good scratch. Aah! What a m`chaya. he gave another rub - then he noticed the blood seeping from the raw flesh. Oi vay! What would happen if it got infected? And now it hurt as well.

 

Yanky determined not to rub anymore,"If I leave it alone it will heal naturally and get better - It`s the scratching that rubs off the skin ,so I must stop!"

 

Quite right, Yanky, you`ve thought correctly, but let`s see if you can stick to it! Yanky continued undressing and ignore the itch - but the itch got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until it filled his whole mind. Just one scratch, just a little one, a teeny, weeny little one. Yanky sat down on his bed and gave a little rub- oh, what a relief! He gave another, what a m`chaya! Another -oh, such pleasure! But then the pain. Wow! It was worse than before and the blood flowed.

 

There was a knock ion the door and Mrs. Scheiner walked in. "Yanky, why are you still up? I sent you to bed a quarter of an hou ago. Yanky! Oh, Yanky! What`s the matter with your foot?" She rushed over and looked at the ghastly sight "What have you been doing?" "It`s so itchy, Mommy!" cried Yanky. "I can't stop scratching it!" She bent down and looked ao the poor little toes carefully."I think you've got athlete's foot. Tomorrow you'll have to go to the doctor and get some ointment. But meanwhile I'll get a gauze pad and cover the whole thing so that you can'y get at it."

 

Mrs. Schreiner straightened her back, went into the bathroom and returned with a gauze pad and adhesive tape. "Remember Yanky,"she said as she smoothed the tape in place, "don't scratch. Okay?"

 

"I'll try, Mummy." She gave Yanky a kiss and went out. Yanky finished undressing, got into bed, and settled down to say kri'ass Sh'ma. By the time Yanky got to Adon olom the itch was unbearable. He gave a little rub through the bandage - oh, how it hurt afterwards.Yanky switched off the light and said HaMapil. When he'd finished, he snuggled into the bedclothes.

 

"Aizeh gibor?" he thought, So what's a little itch? We'll see who's stronger. I'm not going to scratch. Do you hear, itch? I'm not going to scratch. Fine thoughts, but can you give it up so easily, Yanky? We'll see. Yanky closed his eyes and ignored the feeling at the end of his feet- for a while. But it was there, waiting. Slowly the sensation, the priickly tickle, grew and grew, stronand stronger.Yanky turned over onto hiis other side, but the didn't go away. It got stronger and stronger.

 

Resist, Yanky' resist! Don't give in!

 

Yanky began to sweat. The itch filled his head. Perhaps if I just give a little rub' not a big scratch' just a gentle touch, it would go away and I could fall asleep before it came back- a rub isn't a scratch! A rub is a rub and a scratch is a scratch! By now the itch filled the whole room. He felt as if the itch filled his life from his birth to his dim, distant future.

 

Just a little rub, please. Let me get some sleep. Yanky had a quick emergency conference with himself and there was a unanimous decision. We'll allow just a little rub.

 

Slowly, Yanky bent down under his bedclothes and his shaking fingers searched out the inflamed toes. The tips of his fingers reached the fabric of the bandage, and he gave a gentle rub. Aaah! What relief. The ton load on his head lifted itself off. Yanky almost cried with pleasure. Automatically, his fingers gave another rub- What a m'chaya!- then another, and another. Then he gave a big scratch through the bandage. Wait! The agreement! We only allowed one little one! What agreement? What conference? All was forgotten in the pleasure of satisfying that itch in his feet.

Until the morning.

 

As the first glimmers of daylight filtered thorough the bedroom curtains, Yanky noticed a big red stain on his sheet.

 

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8. YANKY LABORS IN VAIN

 

Yanky had no intention of frying eggs on the sand. Firstly, because he dindn't have any raw eggs with him on the beach. And secondly, because he was sure the fried eggs would turn out full of sand and taste horrible. But it was that hot! The sun was blazing down on Yanky and his friends sweated and toiled on the beach. What else do you do on the beach when you're on holiday, except make sand-castles? Yanky had outgrown those little castles kids make by filling up a bucket with sand and turning it upside down on the beach. He was making a real castle - one you could get into, one that he would be able to show his grandchildren and say, "When I was your age, I made this!" Of course, this was no job to be tackled single-handed. Yanky had enlisted the help of his two friends, Menachem and Moshe.

 

"Let's do something useful instead of lying around on the beach throwing pebbles at each other. Let's build something permanent, something that will last down the years, and people will pass by and say, 'Oh, see that? Yanky, Moshe, and Menachem built it years and years ago'. Let's build a stand-castle to end all sand-castles -- the biggest one in the world!" His two friends had agreed enthusiastically. Moshe had gone back to the hotel to borrow a few large spades fron the gardener and Menachem had gone to bring back some large buckets. By 12 o'clock they had begun clearing the site of large stones. They worked slowly but surely. First, they laid a foundation of large stones; the biggest they could carry or roll along the beach. Then they built the outside wall, two feet thick -- "It's got to last!" Yanky had answered Moshe's protest. "Do you think the Pyramids would still be there if they'd skimped their work?"

 

"The sweat poured off them as they shoveled and hauled, dug and poured. Slowly, the walls grew higher and higher. They divided the inside into rooms, with doorways and windows. This would be a castle for a king.

 

But the sun didn't stop for them. It had stopped for Y'hoshu'a, but why should it stop for them? It has its job to do, just as they have theirs. Slowly it tilted toward the horizon. In the times of the Baiss HaMikdosh, the Kohanim would have been busy with the afternoon tomid. "Hadn't we better daven Mincha?" asked Moshe, "it's getting quite late." Yanky and Menachem looked up at the darkening sky, "But we can't stop now! If we don't finish the roof now, it'll collapse and we'll be put back another day. Let's just finish this bit first and then we'll davven right away." Yanky convinced them and they continued their work. But the roof took longer than they thought. Part of it began to crumble and Menachem ran to look for driftwood to shore it up while Yanky held it up. As the light grew dimmer, work got harder until it was almost pitch dark.

 

"We'd better collect our things and get back before it gets too dark to see anything." This time Yanky agreed to Moshe's suggestion. They collected the buckets and spades and their odds and ends and they set off back to the hotel.

 

 

Daddy greeted them at the hotel door. "I was going to come and get you. It's so late. You missed lunch and afternoon tea - I didn't want you to miss supper as well. I must say though, I'm surprised you missed the minyon here for Mincha! Did you make your own minyon on the beach?" Yanky's, Moshe's, and Menachem's faces dropped as Daddy spoke. They'd forgotten do daven Mincha!!! Moshe and Menachem looked accusingly at Yanky. He'd been the one to suggest that they finish the roof before they davven and then they all forgot about it.

 

Yanky's eyes dropped as he sensed their glances, "We, we... I, I..." Yanky stammered as he turned all shades of red and white. Then it all came out in a torrent. "You see we had to finish the roof. It was very important because it could have all collapsed if we'd have stopped then. Then it started to crumble and we had to get wood and hold it.

 

The look of shock no Daddy's face said more than a million words. "You mean you didn't davven Mincha?" Daddy could hardly believe his ears.

 

"But we couldn't. We... we had to finish the sand-castle!

 

They all thought Daddy would explode when he heard that. "You missed Mincha for a sand-castle?! You missed davvening for something that'll be gone by tomorrow morning?"

 

Daddy's words cut into Yanky like a knife. He knew Daddy was right but he made one more half-hearted attempt at justifying his actions. "But it is such a big one - one which will last for years and years!"

 

Daddy laughed. "Do you think there's anything in this world which really lasts as long as a mitzva? A person works all his life on something and then he's callled to the Oilom HoEmess and they don't look at the bricks and stones - only the mitzvos. And what happens to the bricks and stones? They get knocked down or turned over to some other family and that's that. He gave up all his Oilom Hazeh for it - didn't eat or sleep or enjoy himself and he doesn't have Oilom Hazeh and he doesn't have Oilom HaBo. Tomorrow morning you go to the beach and see what the tide has done to your work. Then perhaps you'll remember that mitzvos are the only permanent things. Now you'd better run off and davven Ma'ariv and then go to supper." They all started off down the carpeted corridor. "But have a wash first - you can't davven in that state - and don't forget to davven an extra Shmoneh Essray for the Mincha you forgot!"

 

The boys went to their rooms, washed, and changed into clean clothes. They went down to the little hotel shul but davvened in opposite corners. Then they went to supper without saying a word to each other. Yanky didn't enjoy the supper - not even the fruit salad they had for dessert. Daddy's words filled his mind. And he had worked hard all day and he was genuinely tired, so he excused himself after they'd finished eating and went straight to bed. He read for a while but couldn't enjoy the book, so he said Kri'ass Sh'ma and HaMapil and dozed into a restless sleep.

 

Morning didn't come too soon. Long before the time set for Shachariss, Yanky was up and dressed. Quietly, he slipped out of his room, padded along the corridor and down the two flights of steps to the front door. The hinges creaked as the door swung open - they only creaked at night when it was cold. Hurriedly Yanky walked down the graveled driveway to the path that led to the hotel's private beach. By the time he reached the seashore, Yanky's heart pounding inside him. He looked around for their masterpiece of architecture. Nothing. He couldn't see anything. Only the flat sand of the seashore and the pounding waves of the receding tide. In disbelief, Yanky walked up and dowhere he thought they'd worked the previous day. He coul't even recognize a single stone. Dejected, Yanky leaned against the sea-wall and stared out to the breaking surf. Daddy's words came back to him. "You work and you work - for what? It won't last! The only things that last are mitzvos."

 

"Huh!" Yanky thought. "Why didn't I think straight? I gave up Mincha for this! Huh! And I even missed lunch and tea." His tears fell down and soaked into the damp sand at his feet. "I worked hard all day and I didn't get Oilom HaZeh and I didn't get Oilom HaBo."

 

Glossary:

baiss hamikdosh - Holy Temple

hamapil - blessing before retiring

kohanim - priests

ma'ariv - evening service

mincha - afternoon service

minyon - quorum for prayer said standing

mitzva - good dead

oilom habo - the world-to-come

oilom hazeh - this world

shachariss - morning service

shmoneh essray - 18 benedictions

tomid - daily sacrifice

 

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9. THERE'S MORE AND MORE AND MORE AND.......

 

 

"What are all these maps doing on the floor?!!!!!!"

 

Mrs. Scheiner's shrill call barely dented Yanky's concentration. With a faraway look in his eyes, he looked from the floor where the maps were spread around him. He thought for a moment, then quizzickly looked back at the maps. The frown creasing his forehead indicated genuine bewilderment. "They're not doing anything, Mummy! They're just lying there."

 

"I know they're lying there on the floor, and so are you and you're getting your trousers dirty. So stand up and brush yourself down and please pick-up all these bits of paper."

 

Obediently, Yanky followed his mother's instruction and began gathering together his collection of pamphlets and folders.

 

"What are you doing with all these maps, Yanky?" Mrs. Scheiner's curiosity got the better of her. "Why do you need so many?"

 

"I'm doing a project on Yerushalayim and each of these maps is on a different scale." As Yanky got going on his current favourite topic, Mrs. Scheiner's look of bewilderment only served to goad Yanky on to more explanations. "You see, each map is drawn according to a certain scale. The bigger the scale is, the more detail it can show."

 

"So why do you need so many maps? You can use just one with the biggest scale, and then you will see all the details you need." Mrs. Scheiner's question was a good one, and it was just what Yanky had hoped for.

 

"Right, Mummy!" Yanky always felt it was best to agree when he could. "It would be enough, if I could get a map big enough to show me all the area I need. But a normally-sized map with a large scale can only show a small area."

 

Mrs. Scheiner thought for a moment. "And also you need to see where Yerushalayim is in relation to the rest of the country and the other towns in the area."

 

The deduction impressed Yanky, and he looked at his mother with new respect. "That is why I need this map of the Middle East and this map of the whole of Israel, and this map of Central Israel, and this map of the mountains of Yehuda, and this map of the entire city limits of Jerusalem, and this map of . . . . ."

 

"Alright, alright, I can see now why you need so many, but it's soon time for supper, so please clear up all this mess. And make sure that you put them away in a place where you will find them again! ....... What are you doing now, Yanky?"

 

Yanky showed his mother the paper and pencil. "I'm making a map of my room."

 

Mrs. Scheiner laughed and went back into the kitchen.

 

Over supper, maps figured prominently in the Scheiner conversation. Mr.Scheiner recalled his younger days when he went rambling through the countryside with his group using large-scale Ordnance Survey maps. Mrs. Scheiner was more interested in getting the map of Yanky's room so that she could see where he left all his things. Mr.Scheiner commented that it would be easier to map the Amazon jungles. But Yanky protested that no-one had ever found a live crocodile in his room.

 

Supper ended peacefully and Mr. Scheiner went with Yanky into the living room so that they could go over the Gemora that Yanky was learning. They each took their hefty tomes from the shelves and ruffled through their leaves to reach the relevant page.

 

"It's okay today, Daddy, I know the Gemora perfectly."

 

Yanky's confident statement took his father by surprise.

 

"Yes!" Yanky reiterated, noting his father's look of incredulity, "Rabbi Gutgebber went through all the Rishonim and Acharonim on our sugya and all the other Meforshim and I made notes of everything he said and I can tell you everything there is to know about the Gemora."

 

Phew! That declaration, spoken with the tone of an ancient Sage, really made Mr. Scheiner sink back into his chair. His look of surprise soon turned into a worried look. Then, an idea occured to him.

 

"Can I see your collection of photos of great Rabbonim, Yanky?"

 

Yanky was surprised at his father's request, but jumped up with alacrity to fulfill it. After a few moments, He returned with several thick photo-albums, which he gave to his father. Carefully, Mr.Scheiner began leafing through the pages of coloured and black-and white photos. After a few moments, Mr. Scheiner gave a grunt and pulled out one photo. It was a photo of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Œ", hunched over a sefer, with a look of intense concentration on his face. Mr. Scheiner studied the photo carefully and then handed it to his son.

 

"What do you see in this photo, Yanky?"

 

Yanky understood that his father did not expect the obvious answer, so he tried to look for something unusual.

 

"Well, Reb Moshe is certainly concentrating very hard on what he is learning!", Yanky offered.

 

"Good." agreed his father. "But do you see which sefer he is learning from?"

 

Yanky held the phtoto close and tried to discern the letters on the sefer. "Hey! It looks like the Gemora we are learning now." he cried suddenly. "Look! There's where the Gemora becomes wide and there is the Tosefos at the top of the page."

 

"That's right, Yanky." Mr. Scheiner leaned towards his son. "Now, don't you think that Reb Moshe knew all the Meforshim that Rabbi Gutgebber told you?" Mr. Scheiner didn't wait for an answer. "When Reb Mshe was still a young man, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, who was one of the Gedolei Hador before the last World War, stood up for him because he said that when the entire library of the Mir Yeshiva walks into the room, we have to stand up for it. When Reb Moshe was in his early twenties, he knew by heart all of the hundreds of seforim in the Mir library."

 

Mr. Scheiner pointed at the picture and continued, "Ever since then, Reb Moshe had been going over Shass hundreds of time and learnt who knows how many thousands of seforim. Now, Reb Moshe was in his eighties when this photo was taken. Look at how he is concentrating on that page the you said that you know perfectly well. If all there is to know is what Rabbi Gutgebber told you, what was Reb Moshe thinking about?"

 

Yanky's father leaned back into his chair and smiled. It wasn't often that Yanky was speechless. He waited a few moments and then appeared to change the subject. "You know that trip we're planning for the summer?"

 

"Yes, Daddy. We're all going to Israel, aren't we." Yanky was pleased to be able to find something to say.

 

"Right. But I don't think you need to come with us." As he said the words, Mr. Scheiner regretted saying them. "No! No! I don't mean that as a punishment!"

 

But, quick though he was, Mr. Scheiner saw tears well into Yanky's eyes.

 

"I don't mean that I'm going to punish you by stopping you from coming with us." Mr. Scheiner continued, "It's just that you are studying Jerusalem so intently and thoroughly from those maps of yours that I don't see any point in your comin. You have already seen everything there is to see!"

 

"But Daddy!" cried Yanky, "How can you compare looking at maps to seeing the real thing?" He fought back the tears as he consolidated his argument. "These maps are only the plans of the areas. There is so much more to see! The houses and the streets and inside the houses and the people who live there.....!"

 

"And the stones which make the houses and the woodwhich makes the furniture and there's more and more detail, and if we use a microscope there will be even more and more to see."

 

Yanky's tears dried up as he listened to his father's interjection with ever-increasing bewilderment.

 

Mr. Scheiner looked at Yanky sympathetically. "I know that I'm confusing you, but I must admit that I didn't realise that you would become so upset by my little moshul. I'm really sorry and I must ask you to forgive me."

 

"Daddy, I really don't understand what is going on. What moshul? Can I go to Israel with you?"

 

Oh dear! Our Yanky really is confused now. Mr. Scheiner drew his son next to him. He put his arm around Yanky's shoulders and gave him a hug. "Do you see these words?" He pointed to the page of Gemora open before him on the table.

 

Warily, Yanky nodded. He didn't know what to expect.

 

His father continued, "Well, each word is like a point on a map. But it is a special map. Because, the more you look at it, the bigger the scale of the map becomes, and the more detail it shows you. When you first learn a piece of Gemora, all you see is the general overview, like your map of the Middle East. On that map, Jerusalem is a tiny spot. All you can see is how far it is from Rome and Cairo and Athens. But you cannot see anything of Jerusalem itself. As you go over the Gemora again and again, and learn through more of Shass, you begin to see more amd more details. Big Talmidei Chachomim can spend hours discussing just a few words."

 

"But Rabbi Gutgebber told us everything that the meforshim said about the sugya!" Yanky felt he had to interrupt his father, to defend the honour of his rebbi.

 

Mr. Scheiner laughed. "Did Rabbi Gutgebber tell you that he was teaching you everything there is to know about the Gemora." Without waiting for an answer, he continued, "Of course not. You can only understand a commentary of the Gemora on the same scale as you are learning the Gemora itself. Your rebbi, who is a truly great Talmid Chochom, was telling what they say, on your level - on your scale of map."

 

Once again, Yanky was silent. His father waited patiently, as Yanky absorbed and ruminated over what he had heard.

 

"Now I can understand something I saw this afternoon in the Bais Hamedrash." With carefully chosen words, Yanky finally broke his silence. "Rabbi Gutgebber was arguing with Rabbi Voihler about a part of our Gemora. I couldn't understand what there was to argue about. If Rabbi Gutgebber knows the Gemora so well that he can teach us, how can anyone argue with him?"

 

"So what is the answer?" Mr. Scheiner gently probed.

 

Now it was Yanky's turn to smile. "On my scale, Rabbi Gutgebber knows the Gemora perfectly. But on Rabbi Voihler's scale, there is plenty they can argue over."

 

"Right, Yanky." Mr Scheiner gave his son another hug. "So let's get to work to see what this map shows us - on our scale, of course."

 

They both laughed. Yanky returned to his side of the table and, together, they began to sing through their map of the world. "Omar Rovo.....Rovo says."

 

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10. THE AEROPLANE

 

 

The parcel was wrapped in a plain brown, manilla paper covering, but Yanky knew what was inside. When the delivery-man brought it to the house, Yanky was the first to pounce.

 

Frantically, Yanky tore off the sticky-tape to reveal a brightly-cloured box. On the box was a picture of a Sopwith Camel biplane. Set against a blue sky, the plane was shown flying over the patchwork greens and browns of some lush farmland. In his mind's eye, Yanky could hear the harsh buzz of it's 24-cylinder radial engine, driving the propellors at two thousand revs per minute as it pulled out of a death-defying 150 mph vertical dive.

 

By now, all the family were gathered around as Yanky opened the box to take out the aeroplane. With anticipation, he pulled apart the cardboard tabs at one end of the box and tipped the aeroplane onto the table.

 

Sorry! Did I say `aeroplane'? Actually, what fell out was an assortment of variously-shaped bits of wood, a collection of assorted nuts and bolts, a sheet of strangely-printed gummed labels, a little tube of glue and a thin booklet.

 

The seconds ticked by. No-one said a word.

 

Mr. Scheiner broke the silence.

 

"Kit!"

 

They all looked up and saw Mr. Scheiner holding the empty carton.

 

"It's a kit for building the aeroplane, Yanky. I built quite a few when I was a little boy. They're great fun to make."

 

His father's words did not seem to console Yanky. He continued to look with mournful eyes at the little pile on the table.

 

"But the advert said it's a real working model with a real engine and remote control. And all I get are these bits and pieces!"

 

"Wait a minute, Yanky!" Mr. Scheiner interjected, before his son worked himself into a mass of tears, "Let's have look at this booklet and see what it is all about. Then, let's take another look at the advert, before we start suing the company for fraud. After all, we did remark that the price seemed very low for all that it offered."

 

Together, they scanned through the pages. Yes! It was definately a complete kit to make an accurate, scale-model of a Sopwith Camel Biplane, complete with markings and a display-stand for putting it on a shelf. This box contained Kit I. When completed, you could send away for Kit II containing a real engine which can be installed to make a real flying model. Then, Kit III comprises radio controls and transmitter for installing full remote control.

 

Then, Yanky ran to dig out the newspaper where he had first seen the advert. There, in big letters was "REAL, REMOTE-CONTROLLED FLYING MODEL OF A SOPWITH CAMEL BIPLANE". And now he saw the little words "build your own ...... with our series of three kits."

 

"Well, Yanky, it looks quite clear to me. This what they advertised and this is what you have received. I suggest that you pick up all these little pieces and enjoy yourself building the model. If you follow the instructions carefully, I think that you will find that you will get more fun from building it yourself more than if you would have got a ready-built aeroplane. If you do a good job, you will be proud of yourself."

 

His father's words were encouraging, but Yanky still felt that touch of bitterness within himself. He shovelled the contents back into the box, but he could not bring himself to start working on it.

 

Several weeks later, the colourful carton caught Yanky's eye. Why not try?

 

Yanky once again spilled out the contents onto his table. Carefully, he checked all the parts against the list in the instruction booklet. Yes! They were all there. Then, he began to look carefully at the bits of wood. Now, his eyes discerned the shapes of wings, aerlions, struts, fuselage-segments, landing-gear - it all looked interesting. Perhaps it wasn't so bad, after all!

 

"Follow the instructions carefully!" His father's word echoed in his mind. Yanky picked up the booklet started to read it.

 

"Stage One: Lay out all the parts on a flat surface an identify them using the check-list."

 

He had already done that, so Yanky read on.

 

"Stage Two: Take the two halves of the fuselage and glue them together, as shown in Diagram 2."

 

Well, that seems easy enough! Yanky took the little tube of glue, pierced its spout with a pin and applied a thin layer along the edges of the two parts. He let them dry for a few minutes and then stuck them together. It looked pretty good. So, he read on.........

 

Yanky did not feel the hours go by, until he heard his mothers voice.

 

"Yanky! Where are you?"

 

"I'm in my room, making the model plane."

 

A few moments later, his mother was peering over hishoulder, looking at the growing form of a biplane.

 

"That looks very good, Yanky! Did you make it all?"

 

"Yes, Mummy. Do you like it?"

 

"Well, I'm sure you are making it properly, but why are there two wings on one side of the plane, but only one on the other side? And why is there that big hole on the top? And why is it standing at such a funny angle?"

 

Yanky laughed, "Mummy, I'm still ithe middle. I haven't finished yet."

 

"Well, Yanky, it's time for bed now. You can finish it later."

 

Carefully, Yanky put his growing shape of a biplane to one side of the table and left it to dry overnight. Daddy was right. It really is fun to make something all by yourself. He changed into his pygamas, allowing his eyes to roam over his handiwork. He admired the intricate details and recalled the difficulties he had overcome as he constructed it, stage by stage.

 

The days rolled by, and slowly, the plane attained its final shape. Every day, Yanky took out the booklet, looked to see the next stage, and added a few struts, stuck on a label or two, trimmed a piece of wood. Finally, the kit was completed. There, the 1914 Sopwith Camel biplane stood proudly on its stand. Rotating propeller, moveable aerlions, swivelling rudder, wheeled landing-gear - like the real thing - just a few hundereds times smaller.

 

Yes! The little model was really a fine achievement. But we cannot rest on our laurels! We must go on to achieve yet greater goals. This was only the first stage of the series. Now we must get this plane into the air, flying like a bird on the wing. Yanky determined to speak to his father about sending away for the next stage - installing the engine.

 

With this thought in his mind, Yanky went to sleep. And he woke up with that thought and he went to school with that thought. Sometimes this can be the trouble with a really enjoyable hobby; they begin to take over. And this 1914 Sopwith Camel was really taking Yanky over. He even managed to borrow a book on how to fly from Mr. Moresby.

 

And it started to take over during Chemistry. It was one of those warm days and Yanky was tired from staying up late, putting the finishing touches to his model. Old Thunderer's voice was droning on - the valency of Hydrogen is one and the valency of Oxygen is two - three - Fire!

 

Yanky felt the vibrations of the propeller as the engine burst into life. His left hand tightened on the throttle as his right hand held the joystick firm. Slowly, the plane picked up speed. He heard the rumble of the wheels on the tarmac.

 

Carefully, Yanky pressed his right leg down, making the rudder turn the aeroplane into the wind for take-off. The runway stretched staight and clear in front of him. His left tightened more. The sound of the engine rose to a high-piched whine. He kept his eyes on the air-speed indicator - 70mph - 80mph - 90mph - 100mph - slowly he pulled back the stick. Suddenly, the wheels ceased to rumble on the tarmac. The horizon sunk under the lower wing of the plane, and Yanky was heading up, up, up into the clear, blue sky.

 

1000ft - 2000ft - round went the needle of the altimeter as the plane gained height. Finally, at 10,000ft., Yanky gently pushed forward his stick and the plane levelled out. The huge aerofoil above his head shaded him from the bright sun. With the wind whistling around him, Yanky pulled his scarf even tighter around his neck. He'd need it in case he went into a dive. Little puffs of cloud floated through the struts of the wings. Carefully, Yanky pulled the joy stick over to the left and pushed the rudder with his right foot. The horizon tilted as he banked to the left and began to circle back.

 

"Scheiner!!!!!!"

 

Thunder and lightning seemed to strike.

 

"Scheiner! Are you dreaming again?"

 

Old Thunderer struck again.

 

"Scheiner! You are the laziest, most inattentive, careless, scruffiest boy I've had the misfortune to teach in all my 30 years in this school."

 

By now, Yanky was sufficiently awake to appreciate all the adjectives which Old Thunderer was hurling at him.

 

"Not only do you sleep through my lesson, but you have the impudence to hand in a rag of an exercise-book which looks like it has been vandalized by drunken spiders. At least you can try to have the courtesy to get one answer correct!"

 

The exercise-book went flying through the air and landed on Yanky's desk

 

Poor Yanky was shattered. What could he say? From triumph to bitter disgrace, in one moment!

 

The rest of the afternoon passed slowly. Finally, the bell went and all the boys made their way home. Morosely, walked to his bus-stop.

 

"Yanky! What's wrong?"

 

Yanky looked up and saw Rabbi Gutgebber smiling sympathetically at him.

 

"You really seem to be under the weather! What happened?"

 

Our poor friend told his kindly teacher how Old Thunderer had shocked, shamed and insulted him in front of the whole class.

 

"Well, Yanky, to be quite honest, you really should not have been dreaming in his class, and you are not exactly famous for your calligraphy. It is true that if you worked a bit harder, you would do much better."

 

That was it! So his favourite teacher was against him as well!

 

Yanky's chin nearly touched the floor and a thick cloud of depression hovered over his head as he walked through the front door of the Scheiner household.

 

Mr. Scheiner reeled back from the sight. Never had he seen a more cheerless Yanky.

 

"I think we'd better have a chat, Yanky. What happened at school today?"

 

Yanky opened up his floodgates of tears. Never had he been so insulted. Even Rabbi Gutgebber was against him. All these teachers seem to be able to do is to criticize and insult him. They're all against him!

 

"Wait one moment, Yanky."

 

Yanky waited.

 

"Now, let's be honest. Are you perfect?"

 

Yanky considered the question for a moment. His father would have preferred that he would not have thought for quite so long, but the final answer was correct.

 

"Of course not, Daddy."

 

"So what is so wrong if someone tells you how you can improve yourself? In fact, it should make you very happy if someone tells you what is wrong, because then you can have more fun."

 

Yanky's look of depression changed to a look of perplexion, so Mr. Scheiner continued.

 

"Do you remember when you were in the middle of building the model aeroplane? Were you upset when Mummy told that there were things wrong with it? Why not? Because you hadn't finished it. Right?"

 

Mr. Scheiner recieved a nod of consent.

 

"Let's take this one step further."

 

Yanky was ready to go.

 

"When you first recieved the kit, remember how upset you were? Well, as soon as you realized that the fun is to get a load of little pieces and then build it into a complete model - that is when the fun began. Right?"

 

Right again!

 

"Well, it's the same with us."

 

Yanky's nose wrinkled even further in perplexion.

 

"You see, when we are born, we are born like a kit - incomplete, with loads of faults. Our job in this world is to make ourselves into what we are supposed to be - and that is the fun! Do you understand?"

 

Yanky thought for a moment. "So Old Thunderer telling me all those nasty things is like telling me that I have another wing to stick on my aeroplane."

 

"Very good, Yanky. You have got the point. So I'll tell you something else. The more you have wrong, the better you can be."

 

The look of perplexion returned.

 

"If your kit would have only come with a few parts, would it have been such a nice model with so much accurate detail?"

 

"No, Daddy. It would have been like one of those cheap plastic aeroplanes which don't look so real and don't have moving parts and which you can't get to fly at all."

 

"Right. So your kit, which came with lots and lots of little bits and pieces to stick together, was more `wrong' than a simple kit made of only a few parts."

 

"Because there was more to `make right'. But when it is `made right', it is much better than the simple kit." interjected Yanky.

 

Mr. Scheiner gave a big smile. "Absolutely right. You have understood what I meant."

 

"So ifI have lots wrong with me, that means that I can become a really great person." Yanky continued.

 

"Right again, Yanky."

 

Yanky thought again. "So, perhaps that is what we do on Rosh Hashonah. Perhaps on Rosh Hushonah we ask HaKodesh Boruch Hu to send us all the parts we need so that we can make ourselves into the next level of kit."

 

"That sounds very good. Perhaps we can use this year to make ourselves really able to `fly' and become real tzaddikim."

 

"It soso much fun now, Daddy. When can I start?"

 

Mr.Scheiner laughed. "I think Old Thunderer told you about a few bits which need sticking together. You can start now when you do your homework. Have fun!"

 

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11. WHO IS COMING TO STAY

 

"Bring up the small table from the room at the back!"

"We need two more chairs!"

"Boobah doesn't like that picture, fetch the one of the scene of the Yum Kinneret!" "Zaidy is allergic to feathers. Try and find the foam pillow."

 

"Mummy, when are Boobah and Zaidy coming?" Yanky sat on one of the beds, tired from all his bringing and fetching and finding and looking.

 

Mrs. Scheiner laughed, "We don't know when they are coming."

 

"So why are you getting so busy converting this old spare room into a guest room for Boobah and Zaidy?" asked her son.

 

"We hope that by making this room up especially for him, we will encourage him to come more often." his mother replied.

 

But this answer did not satisfy Yanky. "But they know that if they want to come we will find somewhere for them to sleep. Last month, we put the camp-beds here in the spare room and Aunty and Uncle slept here and my friend slept in the living-room when he stayed over for the week-end, so why do we have to make all this fuss?"

 

Oh! Yanky! You don't understand! We want them to come! So, the more we prepare everything for them so that it is just as they like it, the more it will show them how much we want them and then they will want to stay by us!"

 

"Now I understand, Mummy! Making-up the room so that it is ready for them shows them how much we want them to come. Just making a place ready when they arrive, doesn't show them how much we want them to come, because we would do that for anybody, even if we weren't so keen to have them."

 

"Right! Yanky. So let us see which rug we should put here on the floor. Which one do you think Boobah and Zaidy would like?"

 

But no answer came. Mrs. Scheiner turned towards her son.

 

"Yanky! Yanky! Why don't you answer?"

 

"I'm sorry, Mummy, but I was just thinking of something we learnt today." apologized Yanky. "We were learning about the Mishkon and the Rebbi told us the moshol about the king who married off his daughter."

 

"Yes, I remember that moshol, but what has that got to do with the rug?" Mrs. Scheiner asked her son.

 

"Well, the king said to the princess that he doesn't really want her to leave, but, at the same time, he wants her to marry the prince. So the king asked her to make a special room ready for him in their new house after they get married so that whenever he comes he will have somewhere ready to stay. But I couldn't understand why he wanted her to make a special room for himself. Huh! If the princesses father comes for a visit and he's the king, I'm sure she could find a room for him to sleep in. If we can put a camp-bed in our spare room, she could find a room in her castle. He could even sleep on the couch in their living-room!"

 

"That's a very good question, Yanky." His mother agreed, "What is your answer?"

 

"Well, it must be like you said, Mummy." Yanky replied, "The king wanted his daughter to show him that she really wants him to come and visit her and stay by her. And he'll be able to tell how much she really wants him to come by how much care she takes in preparing the room for him. So if she really puts herself out and makes the room exactly as he likes it, he will want to come and visit her."

 

"That's very interesting, Yanky." Now it was Mrs. Scheiner's turn to look thoughtful. "Because I had always wondered why the Mishkon was so complicated to make. The Shechina can dwell anywhere, even in an ordinary house. But the Mishkon was so difficult to build with so many different parts which all had to made of exact sizes."

 

"Right! So when they gave all the materials so generously and built it exactly as they were supposed to, that showed that they really wanted the Shechina to dwell in their camp." interjected Yanky.

 

"So if we want the Shechina to dwell in our house, we must prepare our house - and ourselves for such an important guest. Right?"

 

"Right!" replied Yanky, "and we can start by finding the best rug so that we can honor Booba and Zaidy!"

 

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12. YANKY IS COMPLIMENTED

 

It didn't take long for Yanky to notice the difference. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was something there. There was a chill in the air. Oh yes, everyone talked ot him - if he spoke to them first. Then, sometimes he caught boys staring at him, and they would quickly turn away and pretend they had been looking somewhere else.

 

"My imagination!", he said to himself.

 

Then, during the morning recess, he found himself left out of the teams for the ballgames. Somehow neither side picked him.

 

After recess, he dawdled along the corridor to his classroom, listening to the noisy chatter coming from the room. Then, as he entered the doorway - silence. The chattering stopped as all eyes turned on him. Yanky felt himself going red and hot as he took his seat and pretended nothing was wrong. But something was wrong! What could it be? In desperation, Yakny turned to his neighbor and best enemy, Moshe.

 

"What's the matter? Why is everyone so funny today? Did I do something wrong?" he asked.

 

 

16

Moshe blushed a deep red. "Nothing Yanky, nothing is wrong. Anyway, it's not your fault!"

 

At that moment Teacher came in and they all had to open their books, but Yanky's mind was in a whirl. What isn't my fault? he kept asking himself over and over again. But no reply came to his mind. He was determined to ask Moshe for more details. But Moshe avoided him.

 

During lunch he ate silently as all the boys at the table chattered amongst themselves and ignored him. During the afternoon recess he didn't even try to get into the ballgame but stood near the wall watching everyone else. Finally the bell rang to signal the end of recess; the sound he normally hated came as a relief.

 

Yanky joined the crowd filing through the door back into the school building. AS they all jostled for the entrance, Yakny heard a gruff whisper in his ear.

 

"Out of my way, Yanky!"

 

Yakny turned to see Boruch Bully at his side.

 

"Your father's a ba'as t'shuva, so make way for your betters." And, with an elbow in his stomach, Yanky was sent flying.

 

The daze in his head was worse than the pain in his tummy. What is a ba'al t'shuva? Is my daddy really one of those? It must be a terrible thing if everyone hates me because of it.

 

Yanky said nothing when he went home. Next day the coldness against him increased. Boys held their stare as he met their eyes, groups whispered and pointed at him.

 

By Wednesday he was greeted by jeers and chants, "Ben ba'al t'shuva! Ben ba'al t'shuva!"

 

Poor Yanky. What could he do? During the next break he finally cornered Moshe, "You must tell me. What have I done wrong?" he pleaded.

 

Moshe turned all colors as he stammered a reply. "I think this has gone too far. You see one of the boys said that his father said that we mustn't play with you because your father is a ba'al t'shuva."

 

"But what is a ba'al t'shuva?" asked Yanky.

 

"It means that your father wasn't frum - he was a hippie or a beatnik or perhaps a goy and took drugs and did all sorts of terrible things."

 

"Oh!" What could Yanky say? He turned away silently as tears glistened in his eyes. Yanky controlled himself until he got home. Then, when his father came in, the floodgates opened and he wept bitterly.

 

"What's the matter, Yanky? What's wrong? Why are you crying?" Mr. Scheiner

 

"All the boys are making fun of me!" sobbed Yanky, "They are saying that you are a ba'al t'shuva and that you did all sorts of horrible things when you were young and they won't play with me now!" With that, Yanky threw himself inthis father's arm and cried and cried until Mr. Scheiner's shoulders were soaked with tears.

 

Mr. Scheiner waited patiently for the storm to pass, when the clouds would begin to clear.

 

Eventually, the sobs became less frequent. Gently, Mr. Scheiner pulled Yanky off his shouldeand gave him his big handkerchief. "Here, blow yournose and we'll talk!"

 

Yanky obliged with a loud blow, wiped his eyes and looked expectantly to his father.

 

"Come. Let us see what the seforim say about a ba'al t'shuva." Together, they went to the bookcase and Mr. Scheiner began to pull out some seforim.

 

Half an hour later, Mr. Scheiner closed the last of the seforim.

 

"Noo? If someone says that your father is a ba'al t'shuva, are you ashamed or are you proud?"

 

Yanky laughed. "It's such a big compliment!"

 

Next day, as Yanky approached the school gate, he was ready. As usual, a few of his classmates were waiting for him.

 

He greeted the jeering gang with a smile. "Hey Boruch, has your father done t'shuva yet?"

 

Boruch's sneer turned to a look of consternation. Before he had time to reply, Yanky fired his second salvo.

 

"I'm sure your father did t'shuva on Rosh Hashona and Yom Kippur. In fact, he probably says viduy before he goes to bed every night, like other many other people."

 

 Boruch began to splutter from confusion.

 

Now Yanky lobbed in his third salvo. "Anyway, I must thank you for complimenting my father. I told him what you were saying and he said he is honored and he hopes he will be able to live up to your kind words."

 

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