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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

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April 14, 2014

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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

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April 11, 2014

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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

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April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

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Jewish World Review June 12, 2007 / 26 Sivan, 5767

The Other Kind

By Libby Lazewnik

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Who is "courageous"?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The test wasn't bad, as tests go. Shimshy's pen whizzed over the page as the answers flowed forth from his memory. He would do well on this test — and he deserved it. The yawns that punctuated his writing testified to the three late nights of study he'd put in, making sure the material was crystal-clear in his mind.

Some people have a sort of sixth sense that lets them know when they're being watched. For Shimshy, this sense took the form of a tingling between his shoulder blades. He could almost feel someone's eyes trained on him. Very slowly, he let his gaze wander to the right and a little to the rear, to see whose eyes they might be.

They were Mendy's eyes — but they were not trained on Shimshy's back. Not exactly.

They were trained on Shimshy's test paper.

Instinctively, Shimshy hunched more closely over his paper. How long had Mendy been looking at his test? How many answers had he copied down?

Then, as the full impact of what he'd just seen struck him like a punch in the stomach, he had another question: How could Mendy cheat like that?

Mendy wasn't a bad kid. He was a reasonably good student, and reasonably well-behaved in class. There was really no excuse for him not to do well on this test — unless he hadn't bothered to study enough. Shimshy felt an upsurge of indignation. Why should Mendy reap the rewards of his late nights of study? Why should Shimshy have the gritty eyelids, the fits of uncontrollable yawning and the dragging need for more sleep — while Mendy got the unearned good mark?

But even that wasn't the real problem. The real problem, as Shimshy realized as he almost absent-mindedly finished the test, was Mendy. Mendy's character, to be exact. If he'd just seen his friend walk into a store and steal something, he couldn't have been more horrified.

His teacher trusted him not to cheat. Mendy's parents, Shimshy was sure, trusted him not to cheat. The Divine trusted him not to cheat! And yet, here was Mendy giving in to his weakness, to his yetzer hara — and stealing answers from a classmate's test. What do I do now? Shimshy thought. As he walked up to the front of the room and deposited his completed test on the teacher's desk, he wondered if he was obligated to say something to his teacher. He felt bad doing that. The best thing would be to talk to Mendy first. Maybe he could make Mendy see the error of his ways. If he could get Mendy to really regret what he'd done — to see it in the light of a terrible aveirah (sin), not to mention a blot on his character — then Mendy would never dream of doing such a thing again.

Shimshy pictured Mendy's reaction, if he tried to talk to him.

"Hey, Mendy," he'd say. "Got a minute?"

"Sure," Mendy would say, and fall into step beside him — never suspecting what was coming next.

Then Shimshy would start telling him what was on his mind. What he'd seen during the test, and how he felt about it. How Mendy ought to feel about it.

And that's when the change would start.

The warmth in Mendy's eyes would fade — to be replaced by a hostile glitter. No one enjoys being rebuked, least of all by a classmate. And least of all by someone you just cheated from... As Shimshy forged ahead, the hostility would become more pronounced. Mendy would tell him off — or, even worse, go cold. In chilly silence he would stalk away, leaving Shimshy feeling utterly rejected.

Just imagining it made Shimshy feel like running the other way. It made him feel as if he wanted to do anything but talk to Mendy.

It made him feel afraid.

Afraid of what? he asked himself, as he walked slowly home from school much later. (He had already decided to put off talking to Mendy — if he did at all — until tomorrow.)

Afraid of losing a friend, that's what, he answered himself. Afraid of rejection — because rejection hurt!

You're a coward, he told himself savagely. A bright yellow chicken!

These were gloomy thoughts to keep him company as he walked home through the dusk. He was about halfway there when, abruptly, he stopped moving. A sudden image flashed into his brain: the memory of his mother, that morning, asking him to pick up some milk on his way home from school. "We'll need it for breakfast in the morning, and I'm going to have a very hectic schedule today — no time to shop. I'm counting on you, Shimshy. Don't forget!"

He had forgotten — but it wasn't too late. He could still make a detour and reach the mini-market before it closed.

Accordingly, he made a sharp right turn and headed for the mini-market from a different direction. Hitting it sideways, so to speak.

He was coming to the corner that was directly across the street from the mini-market, when he made out two boyish figures ahead of him. They were a couple of younger kids from his yeshiva (religious school), and they were saying good-bye at the corner before parting ways.

"Well, see ya tomorrow, Moishy," one of the boys said, stepping off the curb and into the street.

"Bye," called the other. He stopped. "Hey, Danny, I think you still have my ball."

"No, I don't. I gave yours back at the end of recess, remember?" Danny had already taken a step or two into the street, but turned to call back over his shoulder.

"Are you sure? I can't find mine. It has my name on it..."

Danny began rummaging in the zipper compartment of his backpack to see if he had his friend's ball. He seemed to have completely forgotten that he was standing in the street. Just as Shimshy reached the corner, he heard two things in quick, horrifying succession. He heard Danny call out — eyes still on the interior of his backpack — "No, there's no ball here except mine..." At the same moment, he heard the roar of an engine taking the corner much too fast.

Shimshy didn't stop to think. If he had, it would probably have been too late. He lunged forward with a wild, inarticulate roar — crashing right into the smaller boy and knocking him down. He felt the wind of the speeding car whistle past his ear and ruffle his hair as he lay near the curb, with Danny pinned beneath him.

Then the wind was gone, along with the car. Full darkness had descended by this time, making it questionable whether the driver had even noticed the near-miss as he'd sped past.

Slowly, Shimshy lifted himself onto his hands and knees, and then onto his feet. His knee was scraped and the heels of his hands felt numb. His anxious gaze went to the boy still on the ground. "Danny? Are you okay?"

"I — I think so." Danny sounded dazed. "What just happened?"

"You nearly got run over, that's what happened!" In his relief, Shimshy's voice was overloud. "You didn't watch where you were going, and stood talking to your friend in the middle of the street — or practically in the middle, anyway!"

Danny's friend, Moishy, ran up to join them. Shimshy helped Danny to his feet and herded both younger boys safely onto the pavement. "Are you sure you're not hurt or anything? Can you make it home alone?"

"I'm fine," Danny said. He sounded subdued, stunned, and grateful, all at the same time. "Thanks a lot. You... you saved my life back there."

"Just be careful when you're crossing the street next time. And keep your conversations strictly on the sidewalk!" With that, Shimshy hurried away to the mini-market, which was just a few minutes away from closing.

To his shock, the story was soon all over town.

Shimshy first got wind of it when his brother Sruly yelled from downstairs, "Shimshy, you've got a phone call!" The call was from his friend, Kalman, who was all agog at the news that Shimshy had saved a younger schoolmate from being run over. Surprised, Shimshy asked how Kalman had heard.

"Are you kidding? It's all over town! Danny must've told the whole world by now..."

Sure enough, the phone began ringing off the hook, as various friends and acquaintances called to congratulate Shimshy and to hear the details of his heroic act. Over and over, Shimshy heard them say, "You're so brave! I don't know if I would've had the courage to throw myself into the street like that, with a speeding car coming right at me..."

Over and over, Shimshy tried to say that he wasn't really brave at all — that he hadn't stopped to think. But no one was listening. He was the hero of the hour, and of course, heroes are brave by definition...

Finally, Danny's parents called, to thank Shimshy from the bottom of their hearts for what he'd done for their son. "We've been trying this number every five minutes," Danny's father said, "and kept getting a busy signal. Your phone must have been ringing off the hook!"

And Danny's mother, on the extension, added, "What courage! If not for you..." Her words trailed tearfully off.

Shimshy's father was standing near him when he hung up. Seeing the expression on his son's face, he asked with a smile, "What's the matter, Shimshy? Don't you like all the attention?"

"Everyone keeps telling me how brave I am," Shimshy muttered. "And I'm not!"

Before Mr. Perlowitz could do more than lift a quizzical brow, Shimshy had turned away and was halfway up the stairs to his room. "If anyone else calls," he sent back over his shoulder, "I'm not available!"

It's a fine feeling to receive praise and admiration — when you deserve it. Shimshy, however, didn't feel that he deserved it at all. He brooded in his room over the question of courage, but only ended up feeling more confused. It was with a sense of considerable relief that he heard the rap of a knuckle on the door, and his father's voice, saying, "Shimshy? Can I come in?"

Mr. Perlowitz took the desk chair and turned it around to face Shimshy, on the bed. "For a hero, you don't seem very happy," he remarked. "Want to tell me what the problem is?"

"The problem," Shimshy said, looking down at the bedspread, "is that people keep telling me how brave I am — when I know that I'm actually a big, fat coward!"

"Why do you say that? You did something back there that took real courage."

"A certain kind of courage, maybe. I'm talking about... the other kind."

"Hmm." His father settled himself more comfortably in his chair. "This is beginning to sound interesting. What 'other kind' do you mean?"

In halting phrases, Shimshy told his father what had happened during his test at school today. He told about his decision to confront Mendy, to try and help him see the error of his ways. "I feel like I have a responsibility to do that," he explained miserably. "Since I'm the only one who knows he cheated."

"Well? Why don't you, then?"

"Because I'm chicken!"

"What," asked his father, "are you afraid of?"

"I'm afraid... that he won't like me, if I tell him what he did wrong. That he'll tell me to mind my own business. That he'll think I'm stuck up. That... he won't be my friend."

Shimshy raised agonized eyes to his father's. "How brave does that sound?"

Mr. Perlowitz nodded thoughtfully. "I see what you mean. The other kind of courage."

"The kind I don't have," Shimishy concluded sadly.

There was a silence as his father considered the question.

"Not necessarily," he said. "When you saw that Danny's life was at risk, you plunged in without a thought about your own safety. You did what had to be done — courageously. Maybe, if you think about Mendy in the same way, your moral courage will step in to help you out." "Moral courage?"

"The kind you think you don't have. The courage to try to promote the health of someone's neshama — the way you promoted Danny's physical safety today. Know what I mean?"

Shimshy looked at him. "Do you think Mendy's in as much danger as Danny was?" His father nodded soberly. "Yes, I do. But not physical danger. The other kind..."

There would be a horde of people waiting to surround him when he got to school, Shimshy knew. All the kids would want to hear, first-hand, the story of his heroic lunge to whisk Danny to safety. They would want to shake his hand and pat his back. Most of all, they would extol his courage.

Before any of that happened, there was something that he had to do first. If he wanted to enjoy any of it, he had to feel brave — all the way through. And it had to happen before he got to yeshiva.

That was why Shimshy was waiting on a certain corner a full half-hour before he usually left for school. It was Mendy's corner. Eight minutes after he started his vigil, he was rewarded by the sight of Mendy himself, coming up the street from his house. He was surprised, and pleased, to see Shimshy.

"Hi, Shimshy! I didn't know you walk to school this way."

"I don't, usually." Shimshy fell into step beside his classmate. He felt exactly the way he'd have felt at the curb yesterday, if he'd had any time to think: scared to death. But his father had discussed with him the right way to rebuke someone. Armed with that knowledge, Shimshy had decided to do what he knew was the right thing — despite his fear. And that, his father had assured him, was the definition of true courage.

He took a deep breath, and plunged right in.

In the six blocks before they reached the school building, the expression on Mendy's face changed several times.

As he listened to Shimshy, he looked first gratified by Shimshy's well-chosen words of praise and encouragement... then wary as Shimshy began to discuss the cheating incident. There was a little bit of the coolness that Shimshy had been afraid of, but it soon dissipated under Shimshy's warm rush of words. By the time the school building was in sight, Mendy was looking ashamed of himself. Remorsefulness soon followed. And by the time they reached the school gates, he was looking grimly determined to change.

As they walked through those gates, Shimshy was — as he'd predicted — engulfed by a wave of schoolmates eager to acclaim his courage. With a smile on his face and peace in his heart, he was ready to hear it now.

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.

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