Binni Blitz and the Questionable Cassette

By Yossi Kamiel

“Malky, you have no idea. Camp was absolutely amazing! Totally amazing. We hardly slept – forget about dieting – and the plays were just like ohmygosh. Ahuva Brocha was in tons of plays this year, and you wouldn’t believe her acting. Here’s my camera. You just have to see the pictures.”

Malky Bergman smiled as she began scrolling through the pictures on Tirtza Kaufman’s digital camera. Tirtza was in Malky’s class in school. She also lived some distance away. The bus that brought the girls back from camp would not be going to Tirtza’s neighborhood, so Tirtza had arranged to be picked up at the Bergman’s. Although she and Malky were not especially close friends, everyone knew that the Bergmans had an open home for guests or anyone else in need.

As Malky looked at picture after picture, Tirtza kept a running commentary about her camp experiences. “Gosh, wait until you get to the picture of Mrs. Glick in a yerushalmi tichel. She was hysterical! You know those kerchiefs everyone is wearing lately? She was imitating that look, but she totally looked like a real yerushalmi lady. I think some of the young married staff felt a little put out. Here they are taking so seriously a fad which seems more like a costume and a good joke.”

“Oh, and speaking of Yerushalayim,” Tirtza lowered her voice, “Is it true about your brother catching an Arab terrorist trying to get into Yerushalayim? Your sister Leah was in camp the Shabbos that the story was in the newspapers. I read it in the Yated, but it only gave the story without identifying the boy. I heard that Leah said that your family did not want the publicity, but that it was okay for her to tell her friends.”

The door swung open, and both girls looked up. “What did I say?” Leah Bergman asked curiously. “I thought I heard my name.”

“She was talking about Blitz catching the Arab,” Malky informed her younger sister. “I must have been asked by loads of girls already. And this is without having his name in the papers. Can you imagine if his name had been there? Tatty is right. Publicity sounds exciting, but it is not the best thing for a peaceful life.”

“So it is true?” Tirtza pressed on.

“Leave it to my brainy brother,” Malky laughed. “He goes to Eretz Yisroel for half a summer, solves only half a dozen mysteries there, and catches a wanted terrorist while he’s at it. He came back just this week, with a personal thank you letter from the Shin Bet. My parents told him how proud they are, but they wouldn’t frame the letter. They said that we are supposed to use our brains, but in the end brains are a gift from Hashem, and nothing to brag about. They did frame the picture of him davening mincha right near Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, though. You can tell that he is davening very hard, and being mechavein on every word. That, my parent’s said, was something to be proud of.”

The sound of the doorbell interrupted their talk. “Oh,” exclaimed Tirtza, “That’s probably Rochel Steinberg. She did shai’ur in camp. She left a few days early and her sister sent some stuff with me for her to pick up while I’m here.”

As if on cue, a short girl with dark curly hair appeared in the doorway. “Your mother sent me up,” she told the girls in explanation.

“Hi,” came Tirtza’s muffled welcome. Her face was buried in her luggage, as she searched for the things she was supposed to give Rochel. “I think this is everything,” Tirtza finally said. She held out a blow-dryer, a siddur, and a pair of shoes.

Rochel smiled wryly. “The shoes could have been left in camp, they are so worn out. And the blow dryer is no match for my hair. It’s just no use. I told my sister to give it away, but I guess she has more hope for me than I do.” The girls laughed. “Anyway, thanks for bringing everything. I hope it wasn’t too much of a shlep.”

Tirtza waved her hand dismissively. “Oh, it just sat in my luggage with everything else. No big deal.”

Leah had brought a bag for Rochel’s stuff. Rochel put everything inside and was about to leave, when Tirtza shouted, “One second! I forgot.” She dug into her skirt pocket and pulled out a music tape. “This is the latest Tzaddikimlach. Your sister said it’s yours but that I can listen to it on the bus. I almost forgot about it, sorry. I didn’t end up listening to it anyway.”

“It’s fine,” said Rochel. “I told my sister that she could lend it out as long as I get it back. Actually, I feel bad now. I hadn’t even heard the tape before I gave it to my sister, and now I finally heard it, and it is really not very Jewish. The names of these groups can really fool you. It’s like when the chazer sticks its split hooves out to shout, ‘Look! I’m kosher.’ But we know that it is not. Sometimes I think the louder a group shouts that they are kosher, the worse their music seems.” So saying, Rochel took the tape, put it in her pocketbook, and zipped it shut with a frown.

Rochel had barely left, when the doorbell sounded again. Tirtza’s older sister Tzippora had come with the car to pick her up. Tzippora was up in the girls’ room, helping Tirtza put her luggage together, when she asked, “Was that Rochel Steinberg I saw leaving as I was parking?”

The girls nodded. Tirtza told her sister that she had brought stuff for Rochel. She also mentioned about the tape. “Really?” Tzippora asked. “I so wanted to get a hold of that album. They have this song Ki Devar Hashem Bazah, which is really making the rounds on the wedding circuit. My friend was supposed to teach me the steps to it. It really moves. I wonder if it’s as bad as Rochel says. She does have a good ear for this stuff. I think I am so numb from all the junk music I hear, that I lost my sensitivity for what’s really just not decent or Jewish.”

“Well,” Tirtza spoke up. “Rochel lives just one block down so she is probably home already. Why don’t you call her? Judging by how she spoke about the tape, she’ll probably not only lend it to you, I imagine she’ll let you keep it too!”

Tzippora took her sister’s advice and called Rochel. She spoke for a few minutes, then hung up, shaking her head.

“It doesn’t sound good,” Tirtza observed.

“Nope, it doesn’t,” agreed her sister. “Rochel says that the tape is so bad I really should not listen to it. She says it is a shame that Jewish stores sell anything with a Jewish title, and no one cares whether it is really a Jewish album or not. I asked her to just let me hear it for myself, but she said she couldn’t find it at the moment anyway. She said, ‘Right now I don’t even see it in my pocketbook. You know how snaps open on pocketbooks and things fall out. Who knows, maybe the tape fell out. As long as I didn’t lose any money, who cares? The tape was garbage anyway.’”

Leah laughed. “Oh, I bet the tape is in the garbage. But if I know Rochel, she probably dumped it there the minute she got home. Then she told you that pocketbooks can open and things can fall out because she just didn’t want to argue about it anymore. Anyone can figure out that she made up that part.”

How did Leah figure out that Rochel made up an excuse of how her tape might have gotten lost?

Answer to last week’s

Binni Blitz and the Moshavnik’s Mistake

What did the man say that was giving himself away?

The moshavnik selling oranges from the stand, claimed that he knew all about taking terumos and ma’aseros. To make his point stronger, he said, “I selling oranges here for fifteen years. I take all terumot and ma’aserot every single year for ze last fifteen years. I no forget, never.”

When Binni heard this, he immediately wondered if this man could be trusted to know about terumos and ma’aseros. In Eretz Yisroel, we take terumos and ma’aseros from fruits and vegetables grown there, every year, for six years. On the seventh year, the shemittah year, no terumos or ma’aseros are taken at all!

There is no way that anyone can take terumos and ma’aseros for fifteen years straight, as the moshavnik claimed. By stretching his claim, he was giving himself away.

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