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Here is a story like no other. A story about heart and soul. A story about
the human spirit. A story of our humanness. So get your box of tissues
because I now share with you.....
By Rabbi Paysach Krohn
In the competitive world of the 1990's, one
wonders whether the old adage still holds true:
"It's not whether you win or lose, but how you
play the game." The following true story
illustrates the power of human concern - even in
the face of intense competition.
In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that
caters to learning-disabled children. Some
children remain in Chush for their entire school
careers, while others can be mainstreamed into
conventional Jewish schools. There are a few
children who attend Chush for most of the week
and go to a regular school on Sundays.
At a Chush fund-raising dinner, the father of a
Chush child delivered a speech that would never
be forgotten by all who attended. After
extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he
cried out, "Where is the perfection in my son
Shaya? Everything that God does is done with
perfection. But my child cannot understand
things as other children do. My child cannot
remember facts and figures as other children do.
Where is God's perfection?"
The audience was shocked by the question, pained
by the father's anguish, and stilled by his
"I believe," the father answered, "that when God
brings a child like this into the world, the
perfection that He seeks is in the way people
react to this child."
He then told the following story about his son
Shaya attends Chush throughout the week and a
boy's yeshiva (Torah institute) on Sundays. One
Sunday afternoon, Shaya and his father came to
the yeshiva as his classmates were playing
baseball. The game was in progress and as Shaya
and his father made their way towards the
ballfield, Shaya said, "Do you think you could
get me into the game?"
Shaya's father knew his son was not at all
athletic, and that most boys would not want him
on their team. But Shaya's father understood
that if his son was chosen in, it would give him
a comfortable sense of belonging.
Shaya's father approached one of the boys in the
field and asked, "Do you think my Shaya could
get into the game?"
The boy looked around for guidance from his
teammates. Getting none, he took matters into
his own hands and said, "We are losing by six
runs and the game is already in the eighth
inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll
try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."
Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled
broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go
out to play short center field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team
scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team
scored again - and now with two outs and the
bases loaded and the potential winning runs on
base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the
team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and
give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shaya was told to take a bat and
try to get a hit. Everyone knew that it was all
but impossible, for Shaya didn't even know how
to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it.
However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the
pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in
softly so Shaya should at least be able to make
The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily
and missed. One of Shaya's teammates came up to
Shaya and together they held the bat and faced
the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The
pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss
the ball softly towards Shaya.
As the next pitch came in, Shaya and his
teammate swung the bat and together they hit a
slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher
picked up the soft grounder and could easily
have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya
would have been out and that would have ended
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it
on a high arc to right field, far and wide
beyond the first baseman's reach. Everyone
started yelling, "Shaya, run to first! Shaya,
run to first!" Never in his life had Shaya run
He scampered down the baseline wide eyed and
startled. By the time he reached first base, the
right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown
the ball to the second baseman who would tag out
Shaya, who was still running. But the
rightfielder understood what the pitcher's
intentions were, so he threw the ball high and
far over the third baseman's head, as everyone
yelled, "Shaya, run to second! Shaya, run to
Shaya ran towards second base as the runners
ahead of him deliriously circled the bases
towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the
opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him
towards the direction of third base and shouted,
"Shaya, run to third!"
As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams
ran behind him screaming, "Shaya, run home!
Shaya, run home!"
Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18
boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him
the hero, as he had just hit the "grand slam"
and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father who now had tears
rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached
their level of perfection. They showed that it
is not only those who are talented that should
be recognized, but also those who have less
talent. They too are human beings, they too
have feelings and emotions, they too are people,
they too want to feel important.