true story, submitted by Yaakov Lederman, is
documented in Kids Speak 4:
My name is
Chaim. I am eleven. I live in Israel. At the
beginning of the school year my father met my
teacher on the street. At first he tried to
cross to the other side because he didn't want
to hear the usual teacher complaints about me
that he was accustomed to hearing year after
year, but the teacher spotted him and said,
"Hello, how are you. I must tell you what a
wonderful boy you have. He's progressing in his
studies from day to day and his behavior is
exceptional. You can be really proud of him."
father listened to what he said and literally
burst with pride. He came home and gave me two
resounding kisses, saying, "I have never had
I, of course,
was confused. On the one hand, I was happy with
my whole heart to see my father so happy and
proud of me. But on the other hand, I knew that
it wasn't true. I asked myself, Why would my
teacher lie for me? I thought that maybe he was
trying to encourage me, but in any case, I still
couldn't understand what was going on.
The next day
I went to school and looked at the teacher, but
he acted as if he hadn't praised me to my father
the day before. I didn't understand his game,
but just to be on the safe side and as a gesture
of appreciation, I tried not to disturb him in
This went on
several more times. Whether I behaved good or
bad, my father would meet the teacher on the
street and hear unimaginable praises sung about
me. Then my father would return home beaming
with happiness, pride and even prizes. The next
day, the teacher would always act as if nothing
happened. The whole thing was becoming
increasingly uncomfortable and distinctly
unpleasant for me. None the less, I thought I
should behave better and even participate in
class. My good behavior would usually last for
about a week or so, after each of these
was solved on Purim. I arrived at my teacher's
house with my father to bring him shalach manos
(a Purim Gift Basket). I was wearing a mask on
my face and you couldn't recognize me. The
teacher greeted my father with a joyous cry of
"Happy Purim! Please come in and drink
something." Then he called his family. "Come
meet the father of my best pupil. I've already
run into him several times and, judging by his
reaction, he doesn't believe me when I tell him
that his son is so outstanding."
actually blushed with pride.
"He sits at
the back of the classroom yet still participates
as if he were sitting right next to me." A
warning bell began to ring inside my head. It
wasn't true. I've sat in the front row since the
beginning of the year because I disturbed the
class. What was going on here? At that moment it
occured to me that he must have mistaken my
father for someone else's.
As if to
confirm my thoughts, the teacher cried "Come,
Yosef, take off your mask so that everyone can
Suddenly I understood everything. My teacher had
mixed up the hardest working kid in the class
with the laziest. I recalled how much Yosef's
father and mine looked alike.
sweating under the mask and maybe there were
even a few tears mixed in. My father though, was
laughing, thinking that the teacher 'mixed up'
my name as a Purim joke.
swift movement, the teacher removed the mask
from my now very wet face. I saw how his
expression rapidly changed to one of confusion.
He looked at me and at my father, then back
again at me and didn't know what to say. "What's
going on here?" he said, "You're Yosef's father,
Yosef," my father corrected him with a laugh,
thinking that the teacher was continuing his
Purim joke. I knew that if the teacher would
explain what had become clear to him that
moment, I was lost. I gave him a pleading look.
Let him just not destroy my father's Purim joy.
Later, whatever would be would be.
looked at my pleading face and said, "Oh, of
course, Chaim. I must have drunk too much wine
and I'm mixing up Mordechai and Haman," he said,
and my father gave a hearty chuckle.
ended somehow. My teacher shook my hand warmly,
looked at me and said, as if suddenly
remembering, "You know something?" he turned to
my father, "Lately your son has really been
making excellent progress."
That was the
most thoughtful Purim in my life. The mystery
was solved. The teacher had mistaken my father
for Yosef's father and all the praises I got
really belonged to Yosef. All of a sudden I
realized how pleasant it was to be the best boy
in class. I had never felt as good as I had in
the previous weeks.
Now I can't
wait to go back to school to thank my teacher
for keeping our little secret - and to start to
work hard so that next time he meets my father,
the praises will really be meant for me - when I
am the hardest working boy in the class.
Anonymously in honor of the Torah institutions
of San Diego.
Congregation Kehillas Torah, San Diego, CA