Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Teves 5761 - January 17, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Apple Toss
by Leah Subar

The three of them came skipping down the sidewalk toward the park -- two boys and a girl. They wore matching outfits and ate matching snacks. Apples. I watched them from the park bench as they skipped -- joyful smiles on their faces -- heading for the sandbox and swings.

Suddenly, the youngest stopped in his tracks and screamed. He shook, holding his apple at arm's length. Upon his apple there had landed a huge Bumble Bee!

The others were dumbstruck. They looked on, motionless, until the oldest finally spoke up. "Drop it!" he cried. "Just drop it already!"

The little one didn't seem to hear. Except for the tears forming in his eyes, he was like a stone. There he stood, clutching his half-eaten apple -- unable to eat it, unwilling to let it go.

At last, the big boy swiped the little one's arm, sending the apple to the dirt. The big boy grabbed the little one by the arm and together with their sister, they ran towards the park.

For days, the scene continued appearing in my mind -- the apple, the bee, the swipe. Sweetness with a sting attached. I know about that.

Take the plants in my home, for example. I have quite a few. For some time, a couple of my plants were half dead. The sting greeted me each morning when I entered the living room. I'd take one look at their wilting form and say, "Ugh!" Nevertheless, I had no oomph to throw them out.

Why? Maybe I didn't want to admit that I was a bad gardener; it was sweet fancying myself with a green thumb. Or maybe it was the fear of the unknown; if I'd throw them out, what would I put in their place? Whatever the reason, those plants remained for a full year, half dead, like cobwebs the housekeeper never got around to wiping.

Okay. Big deal. So I had some dead plants hanging around. Really, it's not the end of the world.

The real stingers -- the ones that make our lives miserable, come in the form of different apples. Bad temper, impatience and selfishness, to name a few.

I was involved in something around the house when my four- year- old interrupted my train of thought. She wanted me to look at something she'd made with glue and stickers. "Don't you see Mommy's busy?" Her face fell, and she walked away, her project dangling limply from her hands. My heart broke a thousand times. "Hold on, honey," I said. "Come back and show me what you made. I'd love to see your project. Will you show me?" She hesitated for a long moment, and then returned.

It's hard to understand how snapping at a child could be sweet. Or criticizing a spouse. Where is the sweetness in making others feel bad? Making others feel bad is not sweet; it's easier, however, than communicating with patience and love.

So we settle for the easy. We settle for our own convenient mediocrity.

Maybe that's why it's helpful having a big brother to give us an occasional `swipe.'

My `big brother' came in the form of that same four-year- old. Later that day, she asked me, "Mommy, do you like me?"

With new apples cropping up all the time, dropping them is an ongoing task for all of us. It's sort of like the game, Hot Potato. Get rid of it fast. But apples are sweet - - how difficult it is to let go. I comfort myself: The moment I drop one apple, a new sweetness will replace the former. This is sweetness that lasts -- it's the reward for working on myself -- with no stings attached.


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