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Win or Lose: Chapter 11

Chaim Finkelstein

Yitzy knew that look. It meant that if he didn’t listen, he would be in very big trouble for a very long time

Wednesday, January 30, 2019





rs. Levinson handed Mr. Greenbaum a paper and pencil.

“Thank you so much for offering to work with Yitzy,” she said.

“There’s no need to thank me,” answered Mr. Greenbaum. “I’m sure that working with a bright boy like Yitzy will be very enjoyable.”

Mr. Greenbaum turned to Yitzy. “Come, Yitzy,” he said, “let’s sit down by the table and learn some math. Maybe we’ll have time to learn Mishnayos, when we finish, as well.”

Yitzy sighed. The last thing in the world he wanted to spend his free time doing was math. The second to last thing would be Mishnayos. In his mind, those subjects were meant for school, not for home.

Mr. Greenbaum studied the crumpled math sheet that Yitzy had brought home.

“Aha,” said Mr. Greenbaum. “I see you are learning long division.”

“All division seems long,” sighed Yitzy. “Way too long.”

“Well,” said Mr. Greenbaum, “maybe if I showed you an easy way to do it, it would seem a little shorter.”

Mr. Greenbaum began scribbling some numbers on one of the papers. “Here,” he said, “look at this problem, Yitzy. What’s two hundred and twenty divided by two?”

Yitzy looked at the numbers on the page. Suddenly, he felt his right knee begin to grow itchy. As he began to scratch it, he felt his left knee grow even more itchy.

“Yitzy,” said Mr. Greenbaum, “I asked you a question. How much is two hundred and twenty divided by two?”

Yitzy stared at the numbers on the page. His eyes began to glaze over and he began to feel a strange tiredness come over him.

Oh no, he thought to himself, it’s happening again. I’m having an allergic reaction to math.

“YITZY,” repeated Mr. Greenbaum in a louder voice, “are you paying attention?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Greenbaum,” Yitzy said in a sleepy voice. “I’m just having an allergic reaction.”

“Oh, my goodness!” cried Mr. Greenbaum. The old man shot out of his seat and ran toward the kitchen to get Yitzy’s mother.

Yitzy was shocked. After all these years of watching Mr. Greenbaum shuffle slowly down the street, he would never have believed that he could move so fast.

Seconds later, he returned together with Mrs. Levinson.

“What’s going on, Yitzy?” she asked.

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said, “it’s just that I’m allergic to math, and I’m having an allergic reaction to it right now.”

Mrs. Levinson crossed her arms and glared at her son.

“Listen here, Yitzy,” she said in a stern voice. “We have already spoken to Dr. Silverberg about this. You are not allergic to math. The doctor said that there is no such thing. You just don’t like math, so you imagine you are not feeling well.”

Mrs. Levinson took a deep breath and continued.

“Mr. Greenbaum has graciously volunteered to help you study. Please don’t waste his time, Yitzy. Do you understand me?”

Yitzy saw the look on his mother’s face. He knew that look. It meant that if he didn’t listen, he would be in very big trouble for a very long time.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 746)


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