Flip-Flops, Scorpions, and Favorable Judgments: A Midnight Adventure in Telzstone

By: Kiki Arochas  |  October 22, 2023

By Kiki Arochas, Staff Writer

Allow me to paint you a picture. You’re walking the quiet streets in Telzstone, Kiryat Yearim, one cool Thursday evening. You’ve just finished your preparations for Shabbat, and you and your spouse have agreed that a nice, quiet, late night walk is exactly what you need to let loose after the week. The evening is serene and peaceful, with a delicate breeze that just ever so lightly tickles your skin. All is well until suddenly, noises and bangs catch your attention. You perk up to see two bachurim, likely yeshiva age, prancing about in circles, throwing bricks into the center of the area dancing around and giggling. What would you assume? It’s late at night, after all; what else could these two be up to? Likely drunk, out late, wasting valuable time they should be out learning. Of course, you wouldn’t be faulted for such an assumption. True, one must be Dan Lecaf Zechut, judge others favorably, but when all the evidence points to a clear conclusion, isn’t it just irrational to think otherwise? I once thought as such, that there were limits to how far one’s favorable judgment could go. That was until I was on the other end of the story; until it was I who was exclaiming that there was more here than met the eye. But how could this circumstance possibly be justifiable behavior? How on earth could one not immediately think the worst in this instance? Let me guide you through the tale.

I was accompanied by Shneur Agronin (YC ‘26), who had asked to speak with me about a matter bothering him. We schmoozed, all the while taking in the beautiful simplicity of the quiet town around us, enjoying our year in the Holy Land. Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks. “SHNEUR!” I exclaimed. “It’s a SCORPION!” I had never seen one in real life before. I may as well have been locking eyes with a dragon. Mixed with terror and elation, I grabbed his attention. “HEEEEE!” he screeched, as the both of us, seized by fight or flight, chose flight. Once safely 15 feet away, we high fived and celebrated our dance with death. As we were discussing various ways we would magnify the situation, so we could tell a good story upon our return, something in my adrenaline charged brain struck me. “We can’t leave that thing alone!” I said. “It could kill somebody!” Shneur attempted to talk me out of my adrenaline fueled madness. “Kookles, that would never happen. Besides, what can we do about it?” But I was ready with a response. “I am not waking up tomorrow to find blood on my hands!” I cried. “We gotta kill this thing!” Shneur was swayed. We slowly approached our enemy, walking in measured footsteps carefully calculated to not arouse the scorpion’s attention. “What’s our plan?” I hissed. Shneur turned, irritated. “Why don’t you step on it?” he snapped back. “This was your idea!” “I can’t do that, I’m wearing FLIP FLOPS!” We started frantically looking around, trying to brainstorm for some ideas. Then, as if in sync, both of our eyes suddenly caught a pile of bricks in our peripheral vision. We slowly locked eyes, grinning. “That’ll work.”

With the large rocks in tow, we apprehensively approached the scorpion, lobbing the stones in its direction, hoping to land at least one. We failed spectacularly. We circled around it continuously, giggling, firing and missing from all directions until finally Shneur nailed one of its legs with a particularly massive brick. We whooped in triumph, but in the words of Kobe, the job’s not finished. Now able to approach closely, we leered upon our injured foe, and dropped one last brick, directly overhead. SPLAT.

One gentleman observing this scene approached us at this point, wondering what on earth was going on. “Akrav,” said Shneur, explaining there was a scorpion. “Ahhhh,” the man said in Israeli, and bid us farewell. As we were walking back to our dorms, laughing at our adventure, a thought struck me. How, I wondered, would one explain that situation to an outsider? “Oh, they encountered a scorpion at midnight, were giggling not out of drunkenness but terror, and were trying to kill it using bricks.” It sounds ridiculous, almost exactly the turn about way one would go about being Dan Lecaf Zechut, in a situation which clearly indicated otherwise, but it was TRUE! Ad nauseam, I repeated this story to anyone who would listen, as I felt that it carries an important lesson: never, ever, wear flip flops when walking late at night in Israel. Oh, and judge others favorably too, I suppose.