"I ma,” I said to my mother, because that’s her name.

“What, Benny?” she said.

“Levi Reiss asked me if I could tutor his little brother in math. He’ll pay me, too. Could I do it?”

“That sounds like a nice idea,” Ima said. “You could use some extra pocket change.”

Nonny cleared his throat. “Why do you get all the jobs?” he said. “I need pocket money, too. And it’s a lot harder for me to get into my pocket than it is for you!”

I bit my lip. Nonny isn’t the world’s greatest student. He’s a really smart kid, it’s just that things are complicated for him when it comes to writing, typing, reading, and stuff. He’s really, really intelligent. People don’t always see it, though. And I don’t think anyone would have the patience to have him as a tutor because his speech is slower than the average person, whatever the “average” person means (is anyone really average? In the eyes of Hashem?).

Just then, the phone rang. It was one of the shidduch calls Ima’s been involved with lately. You see, a few months ago, Ima got it in her head that it would be a great idea to get involved in the mitzvah of helping young Jewish men and women get married. She thinks of ideas all the time, although none of her great ideas have actually gone on and gotten married. That doesn’t stop her, though!

Nonny sighed. “Everyone has a talent,” he said. He didn’t say “except for me” but I knew what he was feeling. He’s not usually the sort to feel sorry for himself.

“Don’t go there, my brother,” I said.

“Yeah, you’re right,” he said.

I went upstairs to call Levi back to tell him I’ll tutor his brother.

*

There’s a kid in my class named Shimon Portnoy. At least I think that’s his name. He doesn’t talk very much. He’s one of those quiet kids, you know the sort. Not the type with his nose in a book though; he’s more interested in other things. I have no idea what they are. He has his one or two friends, so don’t go feeling bad for him.

There’s one weird thing, though. He barely speaks up in class. Like today, for example, Rebbi calls on him to read.

“Shimon, please read,” he said.

Shimon makes a weird face, the sort you make when you’re eating a lemon.

“I’m a little hoarse,” he said, “how about tomorrow?”

Rebbi smiled. “I think you were hoarse the last time I asked you to read, too.”

Shimon blushed. “I get hoarse a lot,” he said. “It’s a voice thing.”

Rebbi nodded. “I understand. Okay, sorry about that.” Then he called on Mordechai Abish who loves to read. If there’s such a thing as reading too much, Mordechai Abish is your man. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Junior, Issue 661)