Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5761 - November 15, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
by Leah Subar

Today I grew up. Maybe I grew up last week and hadn't noticed. But most likely it happened today because, after all, growing up is not something one can easily hide.

Someone stole our baby-stroller. Once I got over the disappointment and guilt (having been the one who left it unlocked), I ventured to buy a new one, leaving the buggy- less baby at home with his father.

I found one I liked, bought it and headed home, pushing the stroller in front of me. I felt funny pushing an empty stroller down Malchei Yisrael Street, and more than one passerby did a double take. I waited for someone to gasp and tell me I'd forgotten the little guy somewhere in Geula, but no one gasped.

Until I got to the pharmacy.

The lady behind the counter gave me an awkward smile and asked me how she could be of assistance. I told her what I needed. When I was almost out the door, she finally exclaimed, "Where's the baby?"

I smiled and said, "At home."

She waited for an explanation. I offered none. She looked at me with that confused but polite look in her eyes. I walked out the door and continued on my way.

I know it's wrong to mislead people. If I'd just bought a stroller, well, why not be up front about it? There's no reason to make people suspect I suffer from some kind of empty-nest syndrome.

On the other hand, I answered her question, didn't I? If she wants to know more, she can ask.

I was elated. I knew this had been a big day.

Someone once said: What other people think of you is none of your business.

The truth is, I do care what other people think about me; and there is merit in maintaining a good reputation. But there is also merit in not caring too much.

Legend has it that the talmidim of Navardok were instructed by the Alter to approach a local fruit vendor or enter a pharmacy and request some nails. Naturally, the vendors would scorn the talmidim, laugh at them or call them fools. The point was to teach them humility. What more humbling experience is there than to be ridiculed?

Perhaps, however, the point of the exercise goes deeper. I imagine the poor young man red as a beet the first time he makes his request. The second time, less so. And by the third or fourth time, I envision the effect wearing off.

After several humiliating scenes, the talmidim would discover that although it's painful to be reckoned a fool, in truth, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. Eventually, one discovers that "I am me" and no one can take that away or diminish it. Not with laughter and not with shame. Only G- d can do that. Wherever I go and whatever I come up against, I'll always have me.


It was the usual morning rush to make sandwiches for school and I was doing my best to satisfy the varied tastes and habits of each of my children. In record time, I completed the last sandwich, my four year-old's favorite kind, the kind she has insisted upon eating ever since she grew teeth: A ketchup sandwich. Nothing inside, just bread and ketchup.

When my little girl looked at her sandwich, she nearly cried. "But I said I want peanut butter!" It was true. Today she had requested peanut butter, but I had forgotten. It's hard to make the switch after years of ketchup. With tears in her eyes, she asked if I would please make her a peanut butter sandwich for gan. I agreed.

That night, our family shared with each other the events of the day. My four year-old was very happy. She said, "Gila didn't say yech when she saw my sandwich today. Because today I brought peanut butter."

Yech? Who made Gila the culinary genius? "What does Gila bring in her sandwich?" one of my children asked.

"Peanut butter," she replied. Wasn't it obvious? Well, I thought, at least Gila doesn't bring sardines.

The truth is I'm glad that my daughter is finally eating something different. It's just sad that it's for the sake of being the same.

Well, maybe that's how it goes. We begin by seeking ways we are the same. I'm a girl and you're a girl. I eat peanut butter and so do you. Later, we see how we are different. And it scares us. One "yech" and years of ketchup-devotion go out the window. In time, however, we discover that that's okay, too.

That is called growing up.

I shared my own baby-buggy victory with my four year-old. I wanted her opinion of whether or not it was okay that I let someone think I'm a little funny.

She listened intently. "Wow," she said, "what a gibor!"

I wrapped her in my arms. "Someday," I said, "you can be a gibor, too."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.