Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Av 5766 - July 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

A Sharp Lesson.
(A true story)

by R. Chadshai

It was Thursday evening. Batya was pleased with herself; the house was clean, the challos were baked, she had managed to bake a cake as well and the salads were just waiting to be seasoned in the morning. She had left very little for the relatively short winter Friday.

Looking forward to a good night's sleep, Batya went to bed, tired but content, knowing that she would feel relaxed when she went to work at eight o'clock in the morning. But man proposes and. . . Her baby woke up at around three in the morning, gasping for breath. Batya had acquired a large amount of experience while treating her older children who had breathing problems; fortunately they had an inhalation machine in the house. However, she realized after a while that the little boy was not responding to treatment and that she would have to take him for first aid. The one-year-old was in danger of asphyxiation.

At six o'clock in the morning she woke her oldest girl, Dini, and asked her to get up so that she could get the other children off to school. She told the fourteen-year-old why she was taking the child to the hospital, and left her with precise instructions for the last minute Shabbos preparations. "I have put the soup on; when it boils, all you need to do is to let it simmer for a while. I had no time to prepare the cholent, but have written down exactly what you have to do. Here are the beans and barley which I checked, potatoes and dumplings, and I left all the seasoning on the counter for you. When it comes to the boil, you could leave it on a tiny flame, lock the door, and go to school. If things don't work out, you can always call me on my mobile phone. We must dash."

A taxi took them straight to the casualty department of the nearest hospital, where the child was put on oxygen immediately, and given intravenous medication. Everyone knows that you need an endless amount of patience in any casualty department. However hard you try to hasten the procedure, time seems to stand still. But this was Friday, and Batya and her husband were on tenterhooks. The baby seemed much better, yet they insisted on keeping him in for observation. At long last, they were told they could take him home.

The wonderful smell of cooking met them as they entered the house. It would only be a few minutes until the children came home from their various schools. Batya put the drowsy baby, who was breathing normally, into his cot and went into the kitchen. She took the lid off the chicken soup saucepan, and tasted the contents. It was excellent. She ladled out a little of the mouthwatering cholent for herself and her husband. They had not eaten today and besides, we are encouraged to taste some of the Shabbos food.

Without waiting for her husband to sit down, Batya took a generous forkful. She screwed up her face and rushed to the sink to swill the taste from her burning mouth. It was so sharp that it was quite inedible. Still coughing and spluttering, she signed to her startled husband that he should not start eating. He asked what was wrong; but it was quite a few minutes till she could answer him.

Dini would be home in a moment and then she would have to think up some explanation. What could the girl have done to produce such an inedible mess? She would have to help her start another pot of cholent. She would have to check another batch of beans, peel some more potatoes and prepare some more dumplings.

Batya had a headache; her lack of sleep was catching up with her. And the baby had started crying again. What had possessed Batya to add so much pepper? Her anger grew by leaps and bounds, The thought crossed her mind; they had just reviewed the chapter in her Shemiras Haloshon group, 'Judge your fellow man favorably.' How could she possibly judge this daughter favorably? She could say. . . The girl is only fourteen, she wanted to help. . .

Just then Dini came running in, breathing in appreciatively at the mouth-watering smell. First she asked how the baby was, and then she asked how the food had turned out. Dini was almost in tears when her mother told her she had thrown it out.

"Mommy how could that be? I followed your instructions to the letter."

"Perhaps you added some black pepper, or something else?"

"No, really not, Mommy, I measured out all the ingredients very carefully." Batya was pleased she had controlled her anger since the girl was visibly upset as it was. She set to work, peeling another batch of potatoes, adding all the other ingredients and salt. She took a heaped spoonful of ground paprika and just as she was about to add it to the pot, she noticed the label on the container.

Sharp red pepper. Now she realized that the fault was entirely hers, and hers alone. Yesterday when she had been to the supermarket, she must have bought a container of hot pepper, instead of the usual sweet red pepper.

Not only had she blamed her young daughter, she had almost done the same thing herself. The sharp timely lesson was as sweet as honey to her. It would teach her, and many others, that it always pays to give people the benefit the doubt.


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