Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Adar 5764 - March 11, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

I Discover America
by Rivka Glick

It was about thirty-five years ago, a few days before Purim. Nachy, our firstborn, was not quite three months old, and -- despite being exhausted from sleepless nights, and feeling rushed and stressed out from the mishloach monos preparations that were yet to be started, I decided that our son absolutely needed a Purim costume.

For some reason, I had a small fabric remnant lying around of some gaudy metallic black and gold material, which would be just the thing for a royal cape. I took a scissors and rounded off the two lower corners, sewed a hem all around, and inserted a broad gold-colored ribbon that was left over from the baby presents we'd been receiving. Tied in a big bow under our baby's triple chins, it looked adorable. Quite appropriate, too, I thought, for is not a new baby the little king of the household, whose every wish sends his parents sucrrying to serve him?

"But he needs a crown!" I exclaimed, and sent Dovid to buy a sheet of shiny gold construction paper from which I would fashion a simple crown. Upon Dovid's return, however, it seemed that there was to be a change of plans. It developed the his Royal Highness was momentarily in more urgent need of a clean diaper (remember those primitive things?) than of a new crown.

"I'll do it!" Dovid offered, helpfully. Make the crown, he meant, not change the baby.

I hesitated. Could I trust anyone other than myself with this important task? Then again, after all, how could anyone possibly get it wrong? Every kindergartner knows how to make a crown: you cut big zigzags along the length of the paper, paste the ends together, and there you are with a nice high pointy crown. Even if the first few tries came out a bit lopsided, the sheet of gold paper was big enough for maybe four attempts. Besides, I wasn't a perfectionist, and a lopsided crown would be fine, maybe even more comical and Purimdik. So I gave my consent.

Exit Nachy and I stage left into the bedroom. But when we emerged, fresh and fragrant, some minutes later, I was aghast! Dovid had cut the entire paper into several long, narrow strips. He hadn't succeeded in coaxing a single zigzag out of his scissors.

Oh, no! How could I have entrusted him with this task? True, any kindergartner could do it, but had I forgotten that Dovid never went to kindergarten? At least, not as I had known it, with easels to paint on while wearing our fathers' old white shirts buttoned down our backs, with finger painting, sewing up Easter bunnies with buttons for the eyes (I went to public school), a toy kitchen in one corner and lots of little Golden Books. At the Yerushalmi cheder that Dovid attended, they learned kohmetz alef, AWWW! in loud chorus, not arts and crafts.

Nowadays, I would have bit my tongue, but at the time, I said, or perhaps screeched, something along the lines of, "Oh, no! What have you done? What were you thinking? That's not the way to make a crown! And look! You've ruined the whole sheet of paper. Now it won't be good for anything!"

Dovid winced, I seem to remember, at this onslaught, but I was concerned with more important things, like producing an acceptible looking crown for His Highness. But not answering, he calmly proceeded to paste together one broader strip to form a ring, a plain round diadem, which I did not find at all impressive. Then he pasted the narrow strips in arches onto this diadem, and at the point where they crossed each other on the top, he pressed down to form graceful curves. Voila, a crown! In point of fact, a much more realistic looking crown than the crude and jagged object of my imagination. Like the silver crown of a sefer Torah and not, lehavdil, like the crowns of the "Three Kings" in winter school pageants of mine...

"Oh!" I exclaimed, rather astonished. Then I took a snippet of left over cape material, wrapped it around some tissue paper, sewed it closed to make a matching button for the middle of the crown, and had a color-coordinated Purim costume that any almost-three-month-old would surely wear with pride. I popped the finished joint effort onto Nachy's head. There was, as yet, no hair to which to attach it, but still, how cute!


I think of little Erica Weinstein, of the blonde pony tail, long bangs and the very pink ears, in our Honors English class. "Why shouldn't we insult people who don't see things the way we do?" Mrs. Smith asked the class one day. As always, hands flew up, waving in the air all around.

"Because a person should be humble and not proud!' "Because it's not polite to insult people!" "Because it might make them feel bad."

"No, no, no!' Mrs. Smith kept saying, shaking her head and laughing harder and harder. "Something much more obvious! Don't you get it?" I, too, was stumped. Rack my brains as I would, I couldn't come up with any answers besides those flying around the classroom.

Finally, she called on Erica, an average student in a class of brilliant students who were headed for Ivy League schools. Erica, too, was laughing.

"Because they just might be right!" she blurted. We all stared at her, open- mouthed, as we collectively "discovered America."


Of course, on `the day,' Nachy refused point blank to have that foreign object placed atop his head, and spit up immediately all over the elegant royal cape. But never mind. Far more important was the lesson,

"There's More Than One Right Way to Make a Crown."


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