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The Root of the Problem

Chana Yanofsky

There were still three weeks until production preparations were supposed to begin. Surgery or not, nothing would stand in Tehilla’s way

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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T ehilla just made it onto her school bus and thanked Hashem that there was still one empty seat. She fumbled in her bag for the ice pack, and held it firmly against her cheek. Standing would have made this so much worse.

“Hey, you’re Tehilla, right?”

Tehilla plunged her ice pack back into her bag and swung around in her seat.

“My sister and I were just watching the show from last year! How did you pull that off in two weeks? It was so amazing!”

Her cheeks, already pink, turned red. It was a compliment she would never be sick of hearing. Even months after the production was over, hearing comments like these made it all worthwhile. The pain in her gums suddenly hurt less.

“I really hope this year’s will be just as good.”

Why did everyone always say that? Did they think she had any intention of disappointing the whole community?

She smiled politely. “Im yirtzeh Hashem, it will be just as good, if not better!”


Another sharp pain on the side of her jaw told her it would be better to stop talking.

Tehilla was feeling more pressure than usual this year. If it wasn’t for her tooth pain it might not have been all that bad, but she was due for root canal surgery in a couple of days and until then had to contend with agonizing pain, not to mention sleepless nights. She’d heard the surgery was supposed to be horrible and the recovery even worse. Tehilla could not accept that all this was happening now! Production practice was set to begin in a few weeks.

On top of it all, Ruvi had just switched schools and was having a difficult time adjusting. Her mother had once explained to Tehilla that it always took Ruvi a while to cope with changes... it was part of his issue. But even for a 15-year-old with autism, there was something unique about him. True, he couldn’t look you in the eye when you spoke to him, and staying focused on a task for more than five minutes was virtually impossible, but when a crisis hit, Ruvi was the star of the day. Whether he was rescuing injured cats or finding lost children in crowds, Ruvi was always in the hotspot of action. The night before last year’s production he spent four hours hot-gluing feathers to 40 hats for the Indian dance. Tehilla imagined that her brother would make an awesome Hatzolah member one day.

There were still three weeks until production preparations were supposed to begin. Surgery or not, nothing would stand in Tehilla’s way. Everyone was counting on her, especially the children at the local special-needs center; all the proceeds from the play went to pay for their summer programs. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 690)

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