In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

The Numbers Game

By Libby Lazewnik

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

A friendship that defied the odds — and paid a great dividend

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Mordy was determined to be a fantastic counselor this summer. He started off by taking a good look at the boys in his bunk, as they moved around the wooden cabin during clean-up time.

"That tall kid with the broom seems pretty responsible… what's his name again? Oh, right — Ari… There's Shmulie — a bit wild, but manageable if you handle him right… Danny's a good kid, on the quiet side but on the ball… I like the way Chaim made his bed, not a wrinkle in sight… Shooey can be a bit of a smart-aleck, gotta watch out for that… Laizer's okay. He was the first one to finish his job… That Dovy's a sharp one, always trying to make a deal… And then, there's Yossi."

Here, Mordy stopped. What was there to say about Yossi? Yossi was… different. A little slower than the other boys. With his endearing smile and easygoing ways, Yossi was a follower. Already on this, the second day of camp, he seemed to have attached himself to Dovy. Mordy watched with approval as Dovy stood in animated conversation with Yossi. Yossi said something, and Dovy's eyes flew open in amazement and delight.

What were they talking about? Yossi wasn't much of a talker at the best of times. It sure was nice of Dovy to take him under his wing and shower him with so much attention… Mordy smiled, and clapped his hands to get his bunk's attention.

"Time for shiur, guys. Last one there's a rotten egg!"

It needed no more than that to send all eight boys flying out of the cabin and down the hill. Mordy followed at a slightly more sedate pace, his junior counselor at his side.

"Lunchtime, guys!" he called at last, wiping his perspiring brow on his sleeve. Eagerly, the boys began to stream toward the dining room. Only Dovy and Yossi hung back. Dovy still seemed to be fascinated by Yossi. Sneaking peeks at them as they lagged behind the rest, Mordy couldn't help but be curious… The boys fell on the food as only famished campers can, and then it was time for rest hour. Mordy left the cabin and went off in search of his own friends, to while away the hour constructing grandiose plans for Color War and Field Day. On his return to the bunk, he found it strangely quiet. Sticking his head through the door, he was relieved to see that all his boys were there. They were clustered in a tight knot at the far end of the room, near Yossi's bed. Dovy seemed to be holding forth about something, while Yossi looked on and smiled shyly. At the sight of their counselor, Dovy whipped around with an almost guilty look and a quick, "Later, guys..." "Sorry to interrupt," Mordy said cheerfully. "Anyone interested in a swim?"

Everyone was interested in a swim. In no time at all they were clad in their bathing trunks and on their way to the pool. As he alternately swam laps, practiced his diving and clowned around with his campers, Mordy noticed again how much time Dovy was spending with Yossi. The sight warmed his heart.

"So, how's it going, Mordy?" the head counselor asked him, as they trudged slowly toward the dining room for supper.

"Pretty good, so far," Mordy replied.

"Is Yossi adjusting well?" This was Yossi's first year in camp, and everyone was anxious to see that he fit in, despite his limitations.

"He seems to be doing fine. One kid in my bunk, Dovy Meyers, has been spending a lot of time with him."

"Nice of him," the head counselor commented.

"Yes," Mordy agreed. Suddenly, he pointed. "Look, there they are now."

Once again, Dovy and Yossi were together. As before, the other boys in their bunk were clustered around them. A few other campers drifted close to see what was happening.

"What's going on?" the head counselor murmured, half to himself and half to Mordy.

"I don't know. Looks harmless enough…"

Mordy considered going over to the group anyway, just to satisfy his curiosity. What in the world was it about Yossi and Dovy that was enthralling the group like that?

After a moment's thought, he abandoned the idea. It was very nice of Dovy to take the trouble to befriend Yossi. Mordy certainly didn't want to intrude. Everyone seemed happy. He would just leave well enough alone.

After supper and night activity, the boys headed back to their cabin to get ready for bed. Mordy left them to it. He was just about to walk out the door, when Laizer came up to him in a rush.

"Mordy, do you happen to have change for a dollar?" He held out a hopeful dollar bill.

"Me, too!" Shooey chimed in, coming up to him with a dollar of his own in hand.

"Planning a visit to the canteen tomorrow?" Mordy asked idly, as he checked his pockets. "I believe they give change there."

"No, it's not for the canteen," Laizer confided. "It's Dovy. He says —"

A swift kick on the ankle from Shooey elicited a surprised, "Ouch!" As Laizer bent down to rub his ankle, Shooey said quickly, "So, do you have change, Mordy? Preferably in quarters…"

Mordy's pockets turned out to have enough quarters for both of them, but when Ari came up to him with the same request, he had to let the boy down. "Sorry, I'm clean out of quarters. What's going on, guys? Why the sudden need for change?"

Nobody answered. With tiny shrugs and noncommittal looks, the boys began edging away. After a moment, Mordy gave a shrug of his own and left as he'd planned. How much trouble could they get into with a pocketful of change?

The next day, Dovy and Yossi were, if anything, even more inseparable than before. Every time Mordy looked, the unlikely pair were together. Dovy's eyes gleamed as his mind spun its busy wheels, while Yossi drifted along beside him in his slow-moving, slow-thinking way. Sometimes Yossi seemed only half present, the other half living in a world all his own… From time to time, Mordy would see other boys crowding around the two. Occasionally, a cry of excitement or surprise reached Mordy's ears. What was going on?

He longed to investigate, but all that day he held himself back. The boys were entitled to their business. He would just have to mind his own! Just seeing Dovy so attentive to Yossi warmed his heart. When he'd been told that he was to have a boy of Yossi's description in his bunk this year, he'd been a little worried. How would Yossi get along with the others? Would the other boys include him, or would he always feel left out, on the fringes of the group? Mordy had been prepared for all sorts of possible problems. And now, along came Dovy and befriended Yossi without any prompting. What a nice kid!

Still, as the day wore on it was becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore the constant flurries of activity that included not only his own campers, but gradually drew in many others as well. Always, Dovy and Yossi seemed to be at the center of it all. Wherever Mordy turned, the same scene repeated itself. Between activities, after prayers, before night activity… Something was going on, that was obvious. But what was it?

At last, his curiosity became to much for him. "I won't ask," he decided, as he crept closer to the group once again surrounding Dovy and Yossi after that night's final activity. "I'll just eavesdrop a little…"

Under cover of the darkness, it was easy to get close enough to hear what the boys were saying. To Mordy's astonishment, there seemed to be some sort of math lesson going on. A boy from the next bunk was carefully reciting a long list of numbers.

"…plus 216, plus 338, plus 794, plus… plus… 867!"

The boy stopped. An expectant hush fell over the group. Yossi, standing beside Dovy, closed his eyes for an instant — and then opened them again with a big smile.

"Two thousand, five hundred and sixty!" Yossi announced happily.

The older boy whipped a calculator out of his pocket. His eyes widened. "He's right!" he crowed. A thrill of excitement passed through the group. "He got it right!"

"Me next!" someone cried.

Dovy stuck out his hand, palm up. "That'll be fifty cents, please."

The boy fished out two quarters and dropped them into Dovy's palm. At Dovy's nod, he turned to Yossi, pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, and said slowly, "Okay, here goes. Ready? 667 plus 335, plus 212, plus 199, plus…"

The numbers passed over Mordy in a hazy string. He felt his blood begin to boil. So that's what was going on! He'd been singing Dovy's praises for befriending poor Yossi — and all along, Dovy had been using Yossi to line his own pockets!

"I knew he was a sharp customer," he muttered to himself. "That Dovy's always on the lookout for a good deal. He'll be a great businessman one day… but not here! Not now. Not with Yossi…"

Mordy strode resolutely forward. When he was standing right behind Dovy, he loudly cleared his throat.

The boy reciting the numbers looked up, saw who it was, and broke off in confusion. It took Dovy another two seconds to realize that something was wrong. "M-Mordy?"

"Hi," Mordy said pleasantly. "Looks like you boys are having lots of fun. Mind if I join in?"

"Uh…" Dovy turned red. "Um, I'm not really sure you'll enjoy this, Mordy."

"And I'm absolutely sure that I won't," Mordy said, suddenly deadly serious. In a louder voice, to the whole group, he announced, "Fun's over, guys. Back to your bunks now. My bunk, come with me."

Like shreds of mist in a night wind, the boys discreetly dispersed. As Mordy turned to lead his own campers up the hill to their cabin, he glanced sidelong at Dovy. "I'll want to have a word with you — later."

Dovy stared down at the ground. The sound of feet and voices receded into the distance, until he was alone beneath the hazy moon.

Well, not quite alone. Yossi, as ever, was standing next to him.

"The answer's one thousand, four hundred and thirteen," he said plaintively. "Why'd that kid go away? I have the answer!"

With a sigh, Dovy turned. "Let's go, Yossi. It's over."

"Dovy, how could you?" Mordy asked. The two were standing outside their bunkhouse in a puddle of moonlight. The rest of the bunk was busy getting ready for bed.

"How could I what?" Dovy had apparently decided to try to brazen it out.

"Turn Yossi into a business deal, that's what!"

Dovy had the grace to look shamefaced. "He didn't mind. He's got this unbelievable talent! Just give him a list of numbers — any list at all, it can even be as long as your arm! — and he comes up with the answer from inside his own head. He's like — like a human adding machine!"

"He's no machine." Mordy's voice was very quiet. "He's a person, Dovy. A person with feelings. A person who deserves to be treated with dignity, not like — like some sort of sideshow in the circus!"

A look of uncertainty crossed Dovy's face. "It wasn't like that, Mordy."

"And I say that it was. Especially" — Mordy peered at his camper keenly — "since you were charging people money to sample his amazing powers. Weren't you?"

With a sigh, Dovy admitted that he had been. "But only fifty cents a pop. That's not so expensive, is it? I was planning to split it with Yossi, half and half. Everyone wanted to see if they could stump him. They were having fun! And so was Yossi!"

"It's still wrong." Mordy might not be as shrewd as Dovy, or as smart as some other people he could name — but this much he knew. What Dovy had done — charging money for the privilege of letting poor, simple-minded Yossi perform — was wrong.

"I'm disappointed in you, Dovy," he went on. "I really thought you were being friendly to Yossi out of the goodness of your heart. When all along…"

"I like Yossi," Dovy protested. "Really."

"Sure you do — as a money-making proposition."

"No. It's more than that. Yossi's a really nice kid. He smiles a lot, as if he really means it… You never have to worry that he's going to let you down or talk about you behind your back. He's a good kid!"

"I know that," the counselor said seriously. "And I'm glad to hear that you do, too. Because the consequence of what you've done —"

"Are you going to make me give back the money?" Dovy asked. He looked agonized. "I didn't really keep a record of who paid what…"

"No. I'm not going to put you through that. You'll give Yossi his share, of course. And then —"

"My punishment?" Dovy said stoically.

"Not exactly," Mordy said. "Consider it a consequence, rather."

"What do I have to do?"

Mordy held the younger boy's eyes for a long moment. The camp grounds were peaceful and still in the moonlight. "What you have to do, Dovy," he said at last, "is be Yossi's friend. For real this time."

Dovy was silent. Whether it was shame that held him, or dismay at the prospect of a summer spent attached to Yossi in a non-commercial way, Mordy didn't know. What he did know was this: After hanging around with the boy the way he had these past few days, there was no way Dovy could dump him now. No, he was going to be Yossi's friend this summer, come what may. Mordy was going to personally see to that!

Mordy did keep a close eye on Dovy that summer. He watched to make sure that Dovy always included Yossi in their bunk's plans. He checked to see if the smile was still glowing on Yossi's face.

It always was. And not only because Dovy was being friendly to him. For Yossi, smiling came as naturally as breathing. Yossi was simply a happy boy.

And gradually, as the summer wore on, Mordy saw Dovy become happier, too. Yossi might no longer be bringing in a monetary profit, but there are some things in life that cannot be expressed in numbers. And those, as Mordy knew, were the things that Yossi excelled in.

For the first time in his "let's make a deal" life, Dovy had discovered someone who had nothing at all to offer him — except a loving heart. And that, he was slowly discovering, was a thing that was precious beyond pearls.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting and inspirational stories. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Libby Lazewnik, the highly acclaimed juvenile author, writes weekly for the Monsey, New York-based Yated Ne'eman. Comment by clicking here.

One Step at a Time
Looking through the two-way glass
Up the Mountain
An Inconvenient Friend
Shock Treatment
The Other Kind
Cold Cash
Two Girls
Willard the Two Faced
A Promise fulfilled
Making his rounds
Fast Forward
Precious Gifts
Rebel at the Smithsonian
A Question Of Light
Person To Person
Winner Takes All — one for the books
Front Page News
Covering for his twin

© 2008, Yated Ne'eman