“Monday we’ll be having a math test on fractions and integers,” said Mr. Stone to our sixth-grade one Friday morning.
“Not much time to study,” I whispered to my friend, Katz.
“You’ll each be paired with a phone study partner,” the teacher said; he began assigning partners.
I was paired up with Katz.
“Call me after you get home today, Zach,” said Katz as he waved goodbye.
When I arrived home a short while later, Mom broke the news to me.
“Surprise! Run up and quickly pack your suitcase,” she said.
“We’re going to Philadelphia for a long Shabbat, to Leo and Gretchen’s house.”
“I’m already packed, slowpoke,” said my younger brother, Dave, in his best showoff voice.
“Ten minutes, and we’re driving away,” Dad said.
Even leaving quickly, we arrived in Philadelphia a half-an-hour before Shabbat.
It was a great weekend of eating, playing board games and telling jokes. On Saturday night, we all went out to eat in honor of my cousin’s birthday. Sunday, we spent the day at an amusement park.
It was very late Sunday night when we returned home. I barely unpacked and put myself to bed.
The next day I overslept, and Mom drove me to school a few hours late. But I was just in time for math class.
“Hi Katz!” I said, as I entered the classroom. He turned away.
“What’s up with him?” I thought.
And that’s when I remembered the math test. I had totally forgotten —and totally forgotten about my buddy.
My stomach hurt, and I held my head in both hands. Would he ever forgive me? I can’t believe I forgot to call him. As we took the test, I could see he was struggling.
After class, he ran out to talk to other friends. For a whole week, he didn’t talk with me.
The next Monday, we got our tests back. He got an 80. I got a 90. Katz approached me.
“How could you have ignored 10 of my phone calls?” His eyes glared at me.
“Katz, listen, there’s an explanation.” My voice cracked.
“And you didn’t pick up your cell or answer the doorbell. I spent hours trying to call you and to find you,” he said,
“Listen, we went out of town last Friday.” I looked up at him from my locker. “It was a surprise, and we were on the road and away the entire weekend.”
“I forgot all about the test,” I continued. “I even overslept last Monday and almost missed it.”
I could tell his jaw was loosening; he smiled.
“OK,” he said. “But you owe me.” We shook on it and walked down the hall to our next class together.
The Torah expects us to give people the benefit of the doubt.
1. What are some of the ways we can learn to give the benefit of the doubt?
2. How would things have been different for Katz had he given Zach the benefit of the doubt?