As I related earlier, the room we learned in was opposite the courtyard gate, and R. Bentcha would always sit near the window with view of the gate and glance at it periodically. When he noticed a stranger entering he would motion to us to quickly run out of the room. Many such occurrences took place over my years in cheder. One time, I wasn’t fast enough, or I didn’t have the chance to run outside before the stranger entered. R. Bentcha opened the door for the unexpected guest, and I managed to quickly hide behind the door itself. The few minutes that I stood behind the door until R. Bentcha succeeded in getting rid of the intruder seemed like days.
We once had a really frightening situation at our school, and it turned out to be nothing short of miracle that I remained unscathed. The government was building a large building near our yard, and the construction workers were prisoners serving their terms. In order that the prisoners would not escape, their overseers put up a barbed-wire fence all around the construction site, with four watchtowers placed around the yard, each one manned by an armed guard.
One day, one of the prisoners escaped, and chaos ensued. The guards ran with drawn rifles as they scoured the area for him, and naturally, the first places they searched were the neighboring yards.
When R. Bentcha saw the commotion he instructed us to go home immediately, and walk slowly so as not to arouse the suspicion of the guards and endanger ourselves.
I was nine years old but tall for my age. I went out to the yard slowly, but when I walked out of the gate, I saw a guard with a rifle running after me. I was terrified and began to run.
The guard, spotting a young person running, apparently thought that I was the runaway prisoner. He shouted at me to stop, but I became even more frightened and ran faster, without thinking that this would endanger me even more.
The guard began shooting into the air while shouting for me to stop. I ran even faster until I managed to turn a corner and hide until the guard passed.
Afterwards, it was explained to me what a terrible mistake it had been to run, and what could have happened to me, G‑d forbid, had the bullets struck me. It was by a miracle alone that I remained alive.