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Win or Lose: Chapter 23

Chaim Finkelstein

Yitzy looked down at the box. Mr. Burtman really did have a reason to send him a bomb, but he couldn’t explain that to Yossi

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

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ho in the world is Mr. Burtman?” asked Yossi.

“Who is Mr. Burtman?” cried Yitzy loudly, “I’ll tell you who that guy is. He’s—”

Yitzy froze midsentence. He remembered that he was not supposed to tell any of his friends about Mr. Greenbaum’s deal. How could he explain to Yossi who Mr. Burtman was without telling him about his meeting in the lawyer’s office?

“Wh… What did you say?” he stammered.

“Didn’t you hear me?” asked Yossi. “I asked you who Mr. Burtman is.”

Yitzy looked up at his friend. “Who’s Mr. Burtman?” he repeated.

“That’s what I just asked you!” cried a confused Yossi.

“You think I know someone named Burtman?” Yitzy said.

Yossi was growing more confused by the minute. “What in the world is going on?” he demanded. “One minute ago, you sounded very upset that this box was sent to you by someone named Mr. Burtman. Now you’re telling me that you don’t know anyone named Burtman. How can that be?”

Yitzy’s brain began to whirl. “You know what, Yossi,” he said, “for the first time in my life, I spent the whole morning paying attention in class. It was very hard for me. I think my brain worked a little too hard, too fast, and now I’m all confused.”

The look on his friend’s face was a little more sympathetic now.

“When I saw this package, it reminded me of what my father always tells me: that the yetzer hara is always trying to hurt me by stopping me from learning. I figured this package must have been sent by the yetzer hara. He is the Hurt Man who wants to hurt me by stopping me from learning.”

Yossi’s eyes were wide in surprise.

“You call the yetzer hara the Hurt Man?” he stammered.

“Sometimes,” answered Yitzy.

“Um… okay,” answered Yossi. “I guess.”

Yossi began to wonder about his friend’s strange behavior. Maybe this Mishnayos contest is putting too much stress on Yitzy, he thought to himself. I’d better keep an eye on him.

Oy vey, Yitzy thought to himself, Yossi probably thinks that I’m going nuts.

“Okay, Yossi,” he said, “let’s go learn.”

“Wait a minute,” said Yossi, “aren’t you going to open the box?”

“What box?”

Yossi rolled his eyes.

“The box that’s in your hand,” he answered.

Yitzy looked down. He had forgotten that he was still holding the box.

“Um… I’m afraid to open it,” he said. “What if it’s a bomb?”

“A bomb?” chuckled Yossi. “Who in the world would want to send you a bomb?”

Yitzy looked down at the box. Mr. Burtman really did have a reason to send him a bomb, but he couldn’t explain that to Yossi. Anyway, he also was very curious about what was inside.

“Oh, okay,” he said, “I guess it couldn’t hurt to open the box for a second.” Very carefully, Yitzy opened the cover of the box and peeked inside.

“Wow!” he cried.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 758)

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