I stood on our blacktop driveway holding my bike. My hands smoothed over the shiny black metal frame. Its high leather seat stood proudly at the top, looking down on the wide handlebars with the extra-firm handbrakes. I hopped on my brand new mountain bike. As I rode down the dirt hill in our backyard, I hit a serious jump and bombed my way down to the bottom.
“Cool,” yelled Ben Goldberg. “Nice bike, Ron!”
He winked and then copied my ride down the hill.
“I’m test driving my Camelback,” my friend said, as he brushed some dirt off his face. “Now I want to ride yours, it’s a better brand.”
It was two weeks before the end of summer. I had plans to enter the bike into a local derby. No one was going to ride my new bike.
“Do you know how long it took me to pay for my GMC Topkick dual-suspension mountain bike?” I shot my friend a “no way are you ever going to ride my bike” look. I had saved $300 by mowing neighbors’ lawns, making my bed hundreds of times and tutoring my annoying little sister.”
But Ben wouldn’t let up. From the moment he saw my new bike in our backyard until the last day of camp, Ben literally spent hours and hours working on me. In camp, he’d tell me about how sweet it would be to ride my bike.
I didn’t give in, though, because I knew I couldn’t take a chance. The GMC would be in the mountain bike derby.
Until it wouldn’t …
One day after camp, as I rode my bike downhill, there was a rock. I hit it and went lunging forward over the handlebars; my bike hit a street light. My bike was bent; the wheels’ spokes were out of place.
“My bike is ruined!” I screamed to no one.
I was lucky that I could walk — just a tad banged up — so I dragged my bike back home. I thought the whole way about the derby, barely holding back tears. Then it hit me: What about Ben’s Camelback?
I called him.
“Can I borrow your Camelback for the derby?” I explained about my crash.
There was silence on the other end of the line. Then, “But you didn’t let me use yours.”
He hung up. A few hours later, he called back.
“I was thinking about it,” Ben’s voice sounded a bit louder. “You can use my bike, and if you win, we’ll split the prize!”
“There’s no prize Ben, but can I still borrow it?”
“Ok, sure.” Ben’s words were short but strong.
I realized that Ben Goldberg was the real winner of the derby.
1. How do you think Ben overcame his inability to lend his bike to Ron?
2. Why does the Torah expect us to lend objects to our friends even when they do not do so?
Danielle Sarah Storch is a local freelance writer. This story is based on the Torah law that states that one is not allowed to say: “You didn’t lend me your rake, so I’m not lending you mine,” and the idea that we must go above our natural feelings to do what the Torah expects from us.