|Kids Speak 3
by Chaim Walder
translated by Aviva Rappaport
Illustrated by Yoni Gerstein
Shh - Someone's
My name is Gila. I'm eleven years old and I'm
in the sixth grade.
I'm a pretty studious girl and very popular.
Almost everyone is friends with me. Almost.
Ruthi isn't my friend since yesterday. I'll tell
you why, even though it's very embarrassing.
Ruthi is a quiet, gentle girl. I was her friend
for a long time. I knew she could be trusted
and that I could count on her. Even though the
other girls in the class didn't see that much in
her, neither good nor bad, I found a lot of good
things in her and I built the friendship be-
Yesterday, Malki came to my house. She's
full of energy and liked by the whole class. We
did homework together, played and talked.
Suddenly I remembered that I had promised
Ruthi that I would go over to her house. When
I told Malki, she just shrugged and said, "I'm
not planning on going with you."
"Then maybe we can ask her to come here,"
Malki wrinkled her nose. "Call her up and
tell her you can't come."
I listened to her and made the phone call. I
don't know why, I Just did.
" "Can I talk to Ruthi?" I asked when some-
one in Ruthi's house answered the phone.
From the corner of my eye I saw Malki mak-
ing a face and I almost burst out laughing.
"Hello?" I heard Ruthi's voice.
"I'm calling to let you know that I can't
come," I said.
"Why not?" Ruthi asked.
"Because...um...because I don't feel good," I
"Oh! I hope you feel better," Ruthi wished
me and asked what hurt.
By now, I was already too much into the lie
to think of a way to get out of it. "My ears
hurt," I said, and almost exploded with laughter
at the face Malki was making. All of a sudden I
forgot about my close friendship with Ruthi.
All of a sudden I ignored the prohibition
against lying. I acted foolishly just to have fun.
I kept on lying and lying until the conver-
sation ended with Ruthi's heartfelt wishes for
my speedy recovery.
I put down the receiver, and Malki and I
burst out laughing. We didn't notice that...
"How come you had to explain and apolo-
gize to her so much?" Malki asked scornfully.
I wanted to say that Ruthi was my very best
friend, but I was embarrassed to say that to
Malki. I was afraid she would think less of me
for having Ruthi, who wasn't part of the "in"
crowd, for a friend. That's why I said, "No spe-
cial reason I just wanted to be nice to her."
"What do you see in that quiet girl?" scoffed
Tm trying to help her," I made up a new lie
on the spot. "The poor thing has no friends and
that's why I volunteered to be her friend."
And so the conversation continued, and,
without my even noticing it, I found myself
talking about my very best friend in a conde-
scending, scornful manner. The conversation
with Malki was full of gossip and slander, pure
lashon ham. Why? All because I wasn't strong
enough to say, "I'm her friend, and that's it."
The conversation continued for another half
hour, and then suddenly we fell silent. That's
when we heard a strange sound coming from
the receiver. I picked it up and said hello. It was
Ruthi's voice I heard. She sounded hurt and
"Gila," she said, "you forgot to hang up the
phone the right way. I'm sorry I listened in to
your conversation, but I guess it was meant to
be. Thanks for your good intentions, but I don't
want any friends who feel sorry for me. So, I
wish you all the best."
I stood there shocked. I wished the ground
would open up and swallow me. I didn't say a
thing. "Do you hear me?" Ruthi whispered into
"I hear you," I said. "Ruthi, I have to explain
what happened "
"There's no need to explain," Ruthi said, her
voice shaking. She too was crying, just like I
was. "There's no need for any explanation," she
repeated. "You agree with me, don't you?"
All of a sudden I realized that there really
wasn't anything to explain. I thought over the
conversation between me and Malki and I
knew that because of something stupid I had
lost forever the very best and super most
faithful friend I had ever had.
Now I'm sitting here in my room, alone.
Sitting and remembering, ashamed and crying.
I learned a lot from this painful incident. I
learned a lot about silliness, about gossip and
slander. I realized that even if Ruthi wouldn't
have heard the conversation, it would have still
been heard in Heaven. Maybe, as I told Ruthi,
it was "meant" for her to hear it so that I'd
really feel how terrible it is to speak lashon
I'm sitting here and crying. I wish Ruthi
could know the truth. But how will she know
if I don't tell her? I'll just have to get over the
bad feelings. Still, it's hard to believe she'll for-
What will happen to me? Will I ever find as
good a friend again?