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“Ah ha! And what is the practical purpose of breaking these down into subcategories?” Jonathan was quizzing me. “Well, in terms of transgressions related to Shabbos, the severity of the sin would matter whether it was a primary category or a subcategory. So it is in this case. I would imagine in terms of damage, over here in our subject, it would matter whether or not we were dealing with a primary category or a subcategory, because the restitution to the one who was damaged would be different.” “I wish you were my rebbe! The way you said that made so much more sense,” he said. “Thanks. But I’m just saying over how my rebbe taught me.” Jonathan put the book down on the table and took a sip of tea. “You’ve learned that section really well,” I said. “Nah, I don’t know anything. I just fake it.” “Well, it’s gotta get in there somehow. Give yourself some credit.” “Why should I? No one else does.” “Good grief Jonathan! No one?” “Grief isn’t good, Reuben,” he smiled as he gave me a side glance to see if his joke worked. It did. I pointed out that some people use humor as a distraction when they become uncomfortable. “You mean me? I would never do that.” He let out what could be described as his Cat Hiss Laugh. But only half a hiss. Or in Hebrew or Jewish culture, it’s the letter Ches like in the beginning of the word Chanukah, but just the “CH” part. I would come to learn that the Cat Hiss Laugh was his way of acknowledging what you said but also dismissing either how he felt about it, or that what you had said had any meaning for him. My compliment, having been parried and smacked to floor, opened up an area that he did want to talk about. “The rebbes at my school can be really tough.” “Tough how?” “They yell.” “Yell as in full volume, red faced, and maniacal screaming?” “Exactly. If you don’t read a verse right, or stay in your seat, they will yell at you over any little thing. Some kids even get hit.”

Chapter 2 getting up from shiva  
Chapter 2 getting up from shiva  
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