Dr. Mitzvah checked his bag. Stethoscope, thermometer, plastic sticks, lollipops, aspirins, cough syrup, band-aids. It looked as though he had everything he would need.
Mrs. Bodenheimer had called to say that Julie had a dreadful sore throat and a rash and would Dr. Mitzvah please come over as soon as possible. He stepped out into the sunshine on Cobblestone Lane and took a deep breath of the cool autumn air. Dr. Mitzvah was a firm believer in fresh air and exercise. He also instructed his patients to brush their teeth, stand up straight and eat dessert only after they finished their meal. (Some of his patients like to eat their dessert first.) And he practiced everything he preached. He even tasted all the medicines he prescribed so he would know which ones were bitter and which were sweet.
"Sally Levinger would never drink sweet cough syrup," he said. "If it isn't bitter, she thinks it won't make her cough go away. But Old Mr. Moses thinks bitter medicine makes him sicker. All of his pills taste like cherries. It's important for a doctor to know these things if he wants to make his patients well!"
When Dr. Mitzvah arrived at Julie's house, she was lying in her bed, looking very unhappy and very red. "Hmm...," he said.
He took her temperature, looked in her throat, listened to her chest, examined her ears, and knocked her knees. "Has Julie, by any chance, had the chicken pox?" he asked Mrs. Bodenheimer.
"Not yet," she said.
"Well, it looks like she has them now. There's not too much I can do. Julie, you'll just have to stay in bed until you feel better and the rash goes away. It will only take a few days."
"A few days?? But I have to be in school tomorrow. I have to finish drawing the pictures for our Sukka display! I can't stay home in bed!"
"Oh, but you must!" said Dr. Mitzvah. "You can draw your pictures in the house."
"No, I can't. I have to draw them together with the rest of the class. They aren't regular pictures. We're drawing a huge puzzle and all the sides of all the pieces have to fit together. If I draw alone, my picture won't fit! It's a Do-It-Together-Project!"
Dr. Mitzvah looked outside at the blue sky. "Hmm... the weather looks all right." He looked inside his medical bag.
"Hmm..." he said again. "We wouldn't want your sukkah display to be ruined. Decorating a sukka and making it beautiful for the holiday of Sukkot is a mitzva! And I think there's another mitzva tucked somewhere away here as well. I'll see what I can do. Meanwhile, I want you to stay in bed. I'll be back soon. Here, have a lollipop." He handed her a lollipop from his bag and left.
"A lollipop?" complained Julie. "That's not medicine! I need something to make me well . quick!"
"Be patient," said her mother. "Dr. Mitzvah has all sorts of medicines in his bag . and his head!"
Two hours later, Dr. Mitzvah returned. He was carrying a big plastic bag full of cardboard, papers, scissors, paints and glue.
"Those are my drawing supplies for the Sukkot display," said Julie.
"Yes they are. I brought them from your school. And I brought the other artists as well."
Julie looked out the window of her bedroom and saw all the boys and girls in her class. Each one was carrying a cardboard sign with a big painted letter. They laughed and giggled and pushed themselves into place until the sign read:
They put the letters down on the lawn and set up chairs and easels. Then they took out their drawings and went to work. Julie went to work too, and each time someone finished a picture they held it up to Julie's window from the outside, while she held up her picture from the inside, so they could see if the pictures and the sides all fit together.
"Gee," said one of the boys, "it's a good thing Julie lives on the first floor. If she were higher up, we couldn't reach her window and we wouldn't be able to match our pictures up."
"Oh yes we would," said one of the girls. "Dr. Mitzvah would bring ladders. And if that didn't work, he would think of something else."
"And it's a good thing the weather was so nice. We couldn't paint in the rain, could we? I wonder if he fixed that too!" said another girl.
"He might have," said someone else. "Dr. Mitzvah fixes everything!"
After the children all went home, Julie asked Dr. Mitzvah, "You helped us with the mitzva of decorating our sukka at school, but what was the second mitzva you said was tucked away somewhere?"
"Can't you guess?" he asked. "It was the mitzva of BIKKUR CHOLIM, visiting the sick. You saw the sign they brought you, wishing you a REFUAH SHLEYMA. Visiting the sick always makes everyone feel better. It's a Do-It-Together-Mitzvah... just like your Sukkot project! And since your friends couldn't come inside your house to visit you, they visited you from the outside. But the mitzva works just as well either way, don't you think? Here, have another lollipop. Just don't forget to brush your teeth. And if I'm not mistaken, your rash is going away."
Julie looked in the mirror and smiled. Everyone had a good time and her picture-puzzle-piece was a perfect fit. The class sukka would be lovely and her rash was going away. Dr. Mitzvah had done it again!
JUST PUBLISHED: THE TRAVELS AND TALES OF DR. EMANUEL J. MITZVA (Doctor of Mostly Everything). Available from Feldheim Publishers.