Hillel Levine had known David Kavitz since childhood. They had been friends for a long time but Hillel sometimes thought that it wasn’t a very mutually beneficial situation. Hillel was always trying to involve David in positive situations, but David didn’t act the same way. Hillel was a lawyer who specialized in Real Estate and Corporate Commercial work. David was the Chief Executive Officer of his family’s hedge fund.

There was an incident that happened five years earlier that still bugged Hillel. It had to do with a stock deal. David was an early supporter and investor in a company that created a new gadget. It would revolutionize life in the kitchen. It was a device that used a laser to open cans but was safe to the human touch. It had never been seen before for home use. The other applications for the laser technology was very exciting. David had looked for investors to get the manufacturing process started and he talked to family and friends but didn’t say a word to Hillel. In return for putting in ten thousand dollars, the investors were promised a four percent stake in the company. Ten guys had invested and the hundred thousand dollar stake started the ‘’Kitchen Laser’’ roll out.

The Kitchen Laser became the hottest commodity on the market and within six months it was bought out by a multinational that had a listing on the New York Stock exchange. The stock soared and within the year the ten thousand dollar investment was worth close to five hundred thousand dollars. All the people who David had invited to invest were delighted and couple of them asked Hillel why he hadn’t thrown some money in. He had no answer, he didn’t want to tell them that his buddy David had ignored him.

Hillel was very close with his Uncle Joe. His parents had passed and Hillel needed someone to talk to, so he went for a visit. Upon hearing the story of David and the Kitchen Laser, his Uncle Joe told Hillel that his friend David in his opinion was a first-class Fink. Hillel didn't want to believe it, but he knew it was the truth. What would it have hurt David to ask him if he wanted to be part of the investor team? It made no sense, friends didn’t do that to friends.

Hillel stayed away from David for five years after the stock event until David called. They met for lunch at Aish Tanoor and David apologized for excluding him from the Laser deal. He claimed that he thought it was overly speculative and he didn’t want Hillel to be at risk. Hillel knew it was a pile of hooey, but David was trying to reconcile so he accepted his lame excuse.

At the lunch, David told Hillel he had a great friend named William, and he and Will were investing in an electric battery plant. The battery company, Electric United Battery, was working to get a Government contract and if they succeeded they would do a reverse takeover and get on the stock market. The stock would soar higher than the Kitchen Laser. David was going to introduce Hillel to Will and then he could decide if he wanted to participate by putting money into the company. David figured that twenty thousand would give him a nice position and would set him up for a great return.

The first meeting with Will was scheduled for a Tuesday morning at ten thirty. At nine thirty Hillel got an email from David. It was an apology. The meeting would have to be moved to the following week.

The following week, David told Hillel that Will wasn’t feeling very well and as much as he hated the idea, they would have to postpone the meeting once again.

This situation kept happening until Hillel read an article on the Forbes magazine digital platform that Electric United Batteries(the company David and Will had invested in) had done a reverse take over on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the stock price was soaring. The company that had been taken over by Electric United Battery had a stock price of one dollar and twenty cents, after the takeover it was announced that it was now trading at sixty-five dollars a share. The market valuation was six hundred million dollars. Once again, Hillel had been left standing on the platform as the train had pulled out and away.

David called to tell Hillel, that it was possible that he could finally meet with Will if he was still interested in investing. Hillel feigned ignorance. ‘’David, this is the fantastic news. The stock was what about a dollar twenty? I think I’d like to invest fifty thousand dollars.’’

There was an uninterrupted sound of silence for about eight seconds. ‘’I don’t want to disappoint you Hillel, Will is a mercurial guy, I don’t know if he is willing to take more investors right now, you might have to wait to buy into the company, are you okay with that?’’ Hillel couldn’t put up with the charade much more. ‘’I have an idea Dave, why don’t I buy some of your interest in the company and that way you won’t be overly exposed if things go wrong?’’ Again there was silence. ‘’No, that wouldn’t work. My stock is in a trust for tax purposes and if I take it out I’d face serious taxation issues. Look I’ll call Will and let you know when it will be good to meet.’’

Hillel had enough. ‘’Dave, there’s a report on Forbes that Electric United Battery has done a reverse take over. That the stock is zooming. Are you telling me as a shareholder that you didn’t know that?’’

David Kavitz started to give a long and nonsensical explanation. Hillel pushed the off button to end the conversation.

When David called back Hillel ignored his calls and put the phone in his pocket and walked around aimlessly. He had heard the saying ‘’Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice shame on me, but he had not paid heed to it.’’

Surprisingly he ended up at Beth Zion Synagogue which was a modern orthodox place of worship. He went in and joined the ten men already present for the afternoon services. He thought a spiritual shower would do him good.

All the guys in the chapel came over and introduced themselves and welcomed him. The Rabbi a guy by the name of Moishe Teitlebaum came over and asked if he was in shul to say the memorial prayer for someone. Hillel looked at him ‘’I’m here because I was betrayed by a good friend, and I was walking around trying to figure out what to do, and I ended up here. I guess I’m trying to figure out the best course of action.’’ Rabbi Teitlebaum put his hand on his shoulder. You’ve come to the right place, we have a half hour between Mincha and Mariv (the afternoon and evening services) and I’d like to invite you to my study to discuss everything. Maybe you can find some answers.’’

The afternoon service last twenty five minutes and the Rabbi then signaled to Hillel to follow him. The Rabbi’s study was in a corner on the second floor of the Synagogue and was very well appointed. The Rabbi took a seat behind his desk and Hillel sat down directly in front of him.

‘’So, what did your friend do that has caused you such anguish. How did he betray you?’’ Hillel answered immediately. ‘’Twice there was an opportunity to make great wealth and twice he ignored me. He gave others the information but not me. I’m sure he made a ton also. It is extremely frustrating. If he was a real friend he would have included me in his plans. I would have given him an opportunity to become wealthy if I had the chance to help change his life.’’

Rabbi Teitlebaum did something unexpected. He looked at Hillel and spun around in the chair he was sitting on. ‘’You know, my record is six spins, I’m sorry I could only do one for you.’’ Hillel started wondering if the Rabbi was crazy.

‘’So, I ask again, what did your friend do to betray you?’’ Hillel started thinking he had made a mistake sharing information with this Rabbi. ‘’With all due respect Rabbi Teitlebaum, I told you. He could have let me invest with him and some other people in a couple of projects and they would have been life changing, I would have made a lot of money. Everyone he invited to join him made money, but not me. I was like the outsider looking in.’’

This time Rabbi Teitlebaum did two spins on his chair. ‘’See, practice makes perfect, I was able to do two full rotations. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name?’’

Hillel was getting frustrated, he probably would have been better off walking the streets. ‘’It’s Hillel Levine.’’ The Rabbi stood up, ‘’You know two of the greatest figures in Jewish history were Hillel and Shemai. They were very good friends but didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. It seems you and your friend didn’t see eye to eye either. Hillel do you know anything about Judaism?’’

Now he was starting to feel offended. ‘Rabbi, I had my Bar Mitzvah, I’ve studied Torah and I go to Shul, of course I know about Judaism.’’ The Rabbi picked up three tennis balls that were on a shelf and started juggling them. ‘’Good, so how come you don’t follow the rules?’’ Hillel was baffled ‘’What?’’ The Rabbi was looking all over the shelves. ‘’I once spun around in my chair five times while juggling four tennis balls. If I found another ball I’d show you how I do it but no such luck. Listen Hillel, we Jews live by the Ten Commandments. One of the main Commandments is ‘’Thou Shalt Not Covet’’, do you think looking at your friend and those who made money and being jealous of them is cool? We also believe in emunah, the way things are supposed to happen is how they happen. You have no idea what the ramifications of having the money would have been. Would it have made you happier on a more material level, I would say yes, but does that help you on a spiritual level or make you a better person, I hope not. I hope you’re striving to be good soul no matter what your financial situation.’’ Hillel was listening intensely.

‘’What’s a friend Hillel? Are you friends with a person so you can benefit off of them ? Or are you friends with a person because if they need you or you need them you’re there for each other. This business of being betrayed because someone you’re close with didn’t include you in a business transaction has nothing to do with friendship, it has to do with business. For whatever reason your friend didn’t feel comfortable putting you in a couple of deals. Here’s some news. You can find your own deals. Gd will help you reach your goals, you don’t need to depend on others. You have to step back and see that you weren’t betrayed you were simply delayed. Believe in your own opportunities believe in yourself. Don’t destroy a friendship over money, take it out of the equation. We have a tendency to forget the good and remember the bad. If this guy was spreading lies about you, if he assaulted you, if he slept with your wife, this is a guy I wouldn’t call a friend. But excluding you from investing in business deals is not the same. There could have been a million reasons why he didn’t include you in the deals and I bet you didn’t even investigate them. You’re feelings were hurt so you abandoned the friendship. Okay, so now you’ve had some time to moan and complain, now go back to being a mensch and forget what you never had in the first place. Be friends because you’re friends, don’t covet it will ruin you. It will destroy your entire view of the world. Control what you can control. It’s like me juggling the three balls and spinning around, I know I can easily control that.’’

Hillel was stunned, the Rabbi had been right on every point. ‘’Okay, Hillel, time to daven the evening service. I hope I’ve been of help. The doors to our Shul are always open to you. I hope you and friend reconcile, life is too short.’’

The Rabbi put the balls back on the shelf and they headed out ‘’Darn, I wish I could’ve shown you how I juggle four balls.’’

Hillel stayed for the service, waved at the Rabbi and left. He walked for a couple of blocks and pulled his phone out of his pocket. There were eight missed calls from David Kavitz. He dialed his friend’s number. He said Hello and Dave started apologizing, but before he got too far along, Hillel stopped him. ‘’Listen Dave, I’ve been looking at this all wrong, I’m sure you have reasons for not including me in the deals but whatever. Our friendship isn’t based on us doing business. You want to go and grab a beer and wings at the Mendy’s Kosher Sport’s Restaurant tonight? I have to warn you, it’s going to be on you.’’

They set a time to meet and Hillel hung up. He headed for the subway and a trip home. It was weird how the world worked, he had walked into the Synagogue a frustrated and bitter guy, and had left calm and with a completely different perspective. That juggling Rabbi had performed magic. How much more impressive it would have been if he had spun around a couple more times while juggling. It was all impressive, he had delivered a powerful message while making it look easy. Hillel would be going back to that shul, it was invigorating. Now it was off to reacquaint himself with an old friend. He was hungry.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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