Story by Tammy Aryeh, illustrations by Sarah Graff
“Your sweater is so funny,” says Chavah as her best friend Shira walks into school. Shira’s sweater had a dancing monkey on it. Chavah thought that her friend was wearing this to be funny. Little did she know that this was one of Shira’s favorite sweaters. “It is not!” Shira said feeling insulted. “That monkey is hilarious,” Chavah said back to Shira. “Yeah well you look funny!” Shira screamed. “No I don’t!” said Chavah feeling hurt. “Well my sweater does not look funny either!” Shira responded. “What do you mean your sweater doesn’t look funny? It looks hilarious!” Chavah said. Now Shira’s feelings were so hurt that she started to cry. “Well than I am not your friend anymore!” Shira screamed to Chavah. Chavah was thinking “Why do I need her as a friend if she overreacts like this anyway?”
In school, whenever Chavah and Shira talked to each other it ended in a fight. When school ended for the day, on the bus ride home neither of them would talk to one another. They didn’t even sit next to each other like they usually do. When Chavah got home she ran to her mother and started to cry. Her mother asked her what was wrong, and Chavah told her the whole story. Her mother called Chavah’s teacher, Morah Devorah, and told her about the incident.
In class the next day, Morah Devorah said “Girls, I want to teach you a lesson. When you speak in a loud voice to each other sometimes you pay attention only to what you want to say without listening to what the other person is saying. Sometimes it is better to write down your feelings to share with each other. That way not only will your friend pay attention to the words on paper, but as you are writing them, you may realize how your words sound and understand better what you could have said differently.” When Chavah got home, she gave a lot of thought to what her teacher said in class that day. She started writing.
That night Shira had a dream…
“Shira!” Chavah exclaimed in Shira’s dream, “I wanted to tell you that I would like to borrow your funny shirt.” “It is not funny! Stop saying that and don’t talk to me ever again!” Shira exclaimed as she went out of the room. “What did I do wrong?” Chavah wondered.
Shira’s dream continued and became very unusual. In her dream, the bell rang signaling that recess was starting and Chavah went behind the bush in the corner of the yard where Chavah and Shira always met during recess. Chavah wanted to see if Shira was going to be there so they could talk their problem out between each other. When Chavah got there Shira wasn’t there. “Just great!” Chavah said to herself. “Shira should be here by now! Her class ends before mine! She should be here already!” Chavah decided to wait there just in case Shira ended up coming.
One minute passed by. Then another. Then another! She started hearing more noise than usual. She was going to check it out, but thought it was probably just some kids who were playing loudly and moving the benches. Finally after fifteen minutes, Chavah decided Shira was not coming and she had to return to school or she would be late to class! She started to walk around the very wide bush but the opening was blocked. “That is weird,” Chavah said to herself. Chavah went to go around the other side of the bush but – uh oh! That side was blocked too! “Help! Help!” Chava screamed! “I am stuck!” Of course no one heard her because recess was over and everyone was inside learning.
“What am I going to do?” Chava thought. “Who would ever do this to me?” Then Chavah had an idea. She planned to climb up over the fence and jump onto the street behind it and then run home. She decided to leave her bag behind the bush to make it easier to climb. Chavah was always the best gymnast in the class so it didn’t take her long to climb over the fence. But when Chavah got to the other side and jumped down she didn’t see streets and houses. What she did see though was a really pretty garden with a palace at the end of the lawn.
Instead of climbing back over the fence, Chavah seemed drawn toward the palace. On her way there she saw many people dressed in very interesting outfits. They were all dressed in turquoise. Everything on them was turquoise. Their shoes, hats, shirts, and skirts. Chavah really loved their outfits. They were all just so much like Chavah! It just so happened that turquoise was her favorite color and that she always wore that type of style. That is strange Chavah thought. They were also all staring at her and whispering to each other. That was even stranger.
When she finally got to the palace, she opened the door and walked inside. The whole inside was turquoise! It was the prettiest palace she had ever seen in her life, not that she had been in so many palaces! She started walking around. Oh My Goodness! There was blue raspberry candy that turned your mouth blue! Awesome! And over there was an ice cream buffet. This was Chavah’s dream palace. (Of course it was, after all, this was her dream.)
After Chavah finished examining the main lobby, she decided to explore the rest of the palace. She saw two big turquoise doors that were really pretty, and decided to go in there first. She opened the doors and saw a long turquoise carpet leading up to a giant beautiful turquoise throne. There was a girl sitting by it looking really sad. I walked up to her and asked her “What’s the matter?” Without looking up, the girl said to me “We know that we have a princess, but we don’t know who she is.” Finally she looked up at Chavah. Her eyes grew big and she started to look faint. “What’s the matter?” I asked again. “You are the princess,” the girl told Chavah.
Back at school, Shira was in her last class. At recess Shira had stacked desks on the sides of the bush where her and Chavah usually met. She stacked the desks so Chavah would know that she was never going to meet her there again. Shira wanted to know if Chavah had gone to the bushes to meet her and if she moved the desks away. She was beginning to feel badly about what she had done and she was also missing Chavah’s friendship.
When school was over Shira went back to the bush, but the desks weren’t moved. ‘That is it!’ Shira thought. ‘I thought that she was sorry, but I guess not because she did not even come out to meet me! I should probably put back these desks because we won’t be talking here anymore anyway.’
As Shira was taking down the desks, she saw Chavah’s bag. “Oh no!” Shira said to herself. “That is Chavah’s bag! She must have been here while I was putting up the desks. She probably climbed over the fence. I will climb over too and try to find her.”
Shira climbed over and found herself in a beautiful garden that stretched out to a beautiful turquoise palace. She went to the palace and opened the doors. The palace looked like this was the dream palace for Chavah. This looked like somewhere Chavah would want to have her Bas Mitzvah. Everything in the palace was just all… Chavah!
Shira saw two big fancy doors and she opened them. There was a long turquoise carpet leading up to a gigantic turquoise throne. On the throne was a girl with a crown. ‘I should ask the princess if she saw Chavah,’ Shira thought. As she got closer she started to find that the girl looked familiar. ‘Wait,’ Shira thought. ‘That is someone I know! I think that is Chavah!’ Shira walked up to the throne and stared at Chavah. Finally Shira spoke up. “Chavah! You are the princess of this palace? I feel so great for you! Mazel Tov! I am just wondering though, how did you become the princess of such a great land?” “Well” Chavah started, “Someone trapped me behind the bush, I climbed over the fence. I came to the palace and a really nice girl, named Elisheva, told me that I am the princess of this secret place. She said this palace used to be ruled by my great great great grandmother, Rivka. She built this palace to represent everything she liked. That is why the palace is turquoise. Bubbe Rivka loved turquoise just like me. My great grandmother wanted to explore the rest of the world, so she left and forgot all about her home. Everyone here was waiting for her to come back, but she never did.
“When I came here,” Chavah continued, “I was crowned the princess of Middosville. Now tell me how you got here Shira.” Shira responded, “Well I was the one who trapped you behind the bush. I didn’t know that you were there so I stacked desks as a sign to tell you I wouldn’t meet you there today. After school, I saw your bag, climbed the fence looking for you and I found Middosville. I am so sorry that I blocked you behind the bush. I really didn’t mean to. I guess it is all my fault though. I am so sorry!”
“I am sorry too,” Chavah said, “I should not have said that you sweater looked funny. I should have used a different word, and wrote you a note saying I am sorry to you just like Morah Devorah said.” “Why don’t we go home,” Shira said, “Shabbos is starting soon and I don’t want my Ima and Abba to start worrying about me!” “Okay let’s go home,” Chavah told Shira as she put her arm around her best friend.
When the two best friends got home they told their parents the whole story. At school Shira and Chavah told their friends what happened, but didn’t tell them where Middosville was. Morah Devorah taught the class a lesson that everyone in the class could learn from this story. “Not only should you think about what you are saying before you say it, you should also think about your actions before you do them. If you don’t think first and act second, someone can get hurt even if that was not your intention. Make sure to always remember V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha. If you keep this mitzvah it is like you are keeping the whole Torah.”
When Shira woke up the next morning, she remembered her dream and knew just what to do. When she came to school she saw Chavah and gave her a note. When Chavah read the note she was really happy and laughed because she had also taken what Morah Devorah said to heart and wrote a note for Shira! From then on whenever Chavah and Shira disagreed on something, they wrote each other a note, being careful with which words they used while carefully reading what each other wrote, and all of their misunderstandings were much easier to resolve this way.