Evening inside the secret shul of the Cobra Cahn. The fading sunlight drips into an otherwise dark, dank room. The only sound is that of pages turning, and deep labored breaths.
12 young bar mitzvah students huddle over their torah portions while their rabbi looks on, his arms crossed, muscles rippling across his bare arms. His face a strange amalgam of angry satisfaction
"Fear does not exist in this shul, does it?", the rabbi screams.
"NO, RABBI!", the class responds as one.
"Pain does not exist in this shul, does it?"
"Defeat does not exist in this shul, does it?"
The rabbi begins to pace the room like a hungry tiger, all sinew and teeth and coiled rage. Suddenly, his domain is shattered by the sound of metal clattering against the ground.
His eyes rip across the room. Young Daniel has dropped his yad on the ground. It is bent but not broken. He jumps to his feet and struggles to continue reading his torah despite his flaccid yad.
The rabbi strides over to his prize student, Yaakov. He gestures to Daniel, cowering in the corner.
"Yaakov — I want that boy out of commission," the rabbi growls.
"But Rabbi," Yaakov whines, "I'll be disqualified! I won't make bar mitzvah! I'll never become a man in the Hebrew community!"
The rabbi sizes up his prized student, coldly,
"Sweep the yad."
Yaakov stares back at his teacher in shock.
"Do you have a problem with that?", the rabbi asks.
"No, Rabbi," Yaakov stares down at his shoes.