I ’m generally okay during recess. I mean, clearly I’m not playing much basketball, but I have plenty of other things to do. Like hang out with my friends.

Friends? Have I never mentioned my friends? Well. I have some. I don’t have the type of friend you call the second you find out you got a brand-new Tetris game or anything like that. Not the type of friend who comes for a sleepover and talks with you until the sun comes out, like Ahuva and her silly friends do. To be honest, it would be really complicated for me to have a sleepover, and I don’t need that kind of stress.

Who needs a best friend anyway? I mean, I had Rafi Englebrenner, and that was nice, but he moved away. And I’m pretty friendly with Boggie Bornstein when he’s in a good mood. But he’s better friends with Azriel Parnes.

On the first day of school, Rabbi Golding, our principal, came into our classroom and made an announcement.

“Good morning,” he said. “We recently received news that the Board of Health is coming to inspect our beautiful yeshivah!”

Everyone groaned. Thing is, our yeshivah isn’t very beautiful at all. It’s about as beautiful as a bomb shelter, not that I’ve ever been in one of those.

“So, we would like to make sure that our gorgeous institution is spick-and-span, and we’d like to spruce it up a bit as well! Your classroom is even going to get a plant!”

Some boys cheered. I’m not the sort to cheer about a plant.

“We need everyone on board here,” he said, and I could have sworn he was looking at me. “I’d like each of you to come up with some way to beautify our yeshivah. You can work alone, in pairs or in groups. Make sure to give the rebbi your idea. I want every one of you to come up with an idea though, okay?

“Okay,” everyone said.

Rabbi Golding left and we returned to our lesson. I saw some of the boys whispering to each other or passing notes. They wanted to do things together or they had ideas they wanted to share with each other. I wasn’t surprised to see Ezra Shnee and Boruch Portowitz pairing up. Those guys have been friends since, like, first grade. And I wasn’t surprised that nobody passed me a note. It’s complicated getting notes to the guy in the chair.

I turned to Shmaryahu Farber, my new helper (Gavriel’s brother). “Maybe you’ll figure something out with me?” I asked him.

“If you want,” Shmaryahu said. “But I think it would be better for you to work with someone in the class.”

Hmmm. I looked around the class and tried to figure out who would be the best person for me to work with. Someone who didn’t have an obvious pair. Not Rafi Munch, he was always eating, he wouldn’t even have time to do something for the school. What about Ido Yakabovitch? He was a nice kid. I don’t know… I looked around and around.

And that’s when it hit me.

I didn’t have a really good friend.

I came home that day in a slump. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 675)