Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Between the Cracks

As told to Miriam Schweid

I was quiet. He continued. “Tzippy is going through a rough time in Yiddishkeit, and apparently you caused it. She doesn’t want to forgive you

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 Mishpacha image

JUST THE GOOD GIRL “You know why I did it? Not for her. For me. I didn’t have anybody else to speak to!” she spat. “I was a nobody. And my mother… she’s just sweet. Also a bit of a nobody. I was just the good girl. The eidel girl with the eidel mother who had no one to stick up for me. I was the girl who was just part of choir and who got no mention at graduation.”

I see the cracks grow longer and wider as the years pass and the student body increases tenfold. There’s so much more space to fall between them. Since my second year of teaching, I measure success by how many girls I manage to pull from between the cracks. Each of those names is a zechus for refuas hanefesh for Tzippy.

Tzippy and I weren’t even classmates, just grade mates. I barely knew her name, but Tzippy knew my name and hated it — both first and last. She hated the way if someone said my name everyone knew who I was. “Oh, Shevy Greenbaum? The one who had the lead role in the school play and won the writing contest? She’s sooo nice.”

Meanwhile, I was occupied with my own set of teenage struggles, and I never thought of myself as popular or someone to be jealous of. So when a prominent rav in the community contacted me one Thursday during my second year of teaching, I had no clue what he wanted. I detected a note of accusation in his voice when I affirmed that I was indeed Shevy Greenbaum.

“Do you know Tzippy Schwartz?”

“Tzippy? Um, I think I do. Vaguely.” I had seen her at a wedding a few weeks before and had noticed that her blue eyes were barely visible under her makeup. Her hair was both lighter and darker in different places than I remembered it. But I might have been wrong.

“Hmm. Only vaguely? Well, she seems to remember you well.”

“Okay. Can I help you with anything?”

“Actually, I want to help you. You know that having a person carrying a grudge against you is damaging.”

I was quiet. He continued. “Tzippy is going through a rough time in Yiddishkeit, and apparently you caused it. She doesn’t want to forgive you.”

I forced myself to breathe. My mother was at the table, intrigued by the name on the Caller ID, and was making inquisitive faces.

“Um… Do you know why she said that?” I asked

“You hurt her in school in the younger years.”

“Younger years? I was only her classmate until sixth grade. What did I do to her?” The phone felt clammy in my palm. I had been a nice, fun kid in school. I wasn’t sure who Tzippy was anyway, and now I was being blamed for making her go off the derech?

“You know, you might suffer later in life because of this. I’m giving you a chance to rectify the situation.”

“I — I don’t remember much. Can you maybe tell me about a specific story?”

“She says there was something in fourth grade.”

The only thing I remembered from fourth grade was that we had two official class bullies that scared the living daylights out of me every day. And I wasn’t one of them. Something was wrong with either my memory or Tzippy’s.

“So, how do I go about asking for mechilah?”

He set up an appointment in his office for Motzaei Shabbos.

I was sure he had the wrong number. I made a mental list of every single memory I had of her. We had been partners in a skit in fifth grade. I had noticed during 12th grade how kind she was to a girl in the grade from an underprivileged home.

Otherwise I came up blank.

Definitely nothing that needed forgiveness.

Related Stories

Will the Secrets Come Tumbling Out?

Shlomi Gil

Families in Yemenite Children Affair Share Hope and Anxiety

Oneg Shabbos: Too Hot to Handle

Yeruchem Yitzchak Landesman

The holy Rebbe brought the child back to life — but years later, the fires of Gehinnom raging, was t...

Lifelines: Life After Paralysis

C. Saphir

I remember my first panic attack as if it happened yesterday. In truth, it happened 38 years ago, wh...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"