Nechama Berg, author of a recent article on the varied uses of baking soda, warns us not to use it as a tooth whitener on a steady basis as it can harm teeth.
One reader asked if all the kodesh material could be concentrated in the middle, so as to be ready for removal in bulk. We have asked this before. Same goes for the simple plea for a Table of Contents at the beginning of the paper.
Chani Kreisel asks that some essential columns be printed in larger type for older eyes...
She would also like to see us improve auto and child safety by launching a campaign wherein children's vehicles, bicycles, wheelchairs and other hard-to- see vehicles would bear a tall night iridescent flag. Also to paint the sides of children's shoe soles with iridescent spray paint. [Sounds like fun.] Someone could donate the paint and it can be a do- it-yourself project at your grocery store or at the school.
M.G. writes in some interesting ideas for fun and games:
Mini pick-up sticks can be made with a package of wooden toothpicks, preferably the round ones. These are cheap and can be painted different colors with water paints (another keep busy activity) for scoring points. Unpainted picks can be played on Shabbos.
Another fun project is tin can stilts. Take two empty cans the same size, cut out the top fully and punch two holes on the other side, near the rim, with a hammer and large nail. Run a shoelace through them and tie over the shoes. Children walk on the cans. This needs practice, and it may be wise to let them try with a broomstick for support to begin with.
You can take children on nature walks and collect small wildflowers to press in a (secular) book or paste right into a notebook. Or different shaped leaves. You can also buy the green sponges for flower arrangements and experiment with leaves and branches. These can be used repeatedly. Plaster of Paris (geves) is also a very cheap product, to be gotten in hardware stores. Children love to mix it with water and create all kinds of things with homemade or storebought molds.
Uninvited Shabbos Guests. Yaffa Shepsel says this story put her in the perfect mood for the Nine Days. "It reminded me of spiders, and what I was told about spiders having helped burn the Beis Hamikdosh. I don't know if the source is documented anywhere, but as a child, I was told you get seven mitzvos and one aveiro for killing a spider. These insects carried splinters of burning wood, like small torches, to set the Mikdosh afire. You get the sin because they are Hashem's creatures, after all.
"Actually, the roaches and the spiders evoked long standing memories of Tisha B'Av as a child. I spent one summer month for close to a dozen consecutive years in Bais Yaakov camp. The Yated article on R' Shraga Newhouse made those memories even more poignant, since he had been a child still at the time, and his name would often be announced on the loudspeaker to "come to supper."
"But that's not what I remembered. His father, Rabbi Newhouse, was the living spirit of the camp. He set the tone of the Nine Days, and the whole camp was plunged in mourning. Then came the climax of Shabbos Nachamu, when the entire camp used to march up a mountain and the campers declare their allegiance to one another, to Hashem, the Torah, to Yiddishkeit, to all the values we held dear as a nation.
"Anyone else recall his clarion call of `Chaveirot achdut'? And our thunderous reply, `B'achdut nichye.' Can anyone still recite it to the end?
"Nostalgia. National nostalgia for our bygone glory and a real aching for the geula sheleima, may it come speedily in our times, and may we turn this day into a yom tov. Thanks, YATED, for evoking those timely summer memories which I so cherish, and which gave me so much."
Thank you, Yaffa.