Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Kislev 5766 - December 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Candy Counts
by Devorah Lifshitz

On the first day of Chanuka last year, our children surprised me by becoming the people I hoped they would. It happened quite unexpectedly amid circumstances which I would not have seen as conducive to the achievement of great spiritual heights.

The story started when a relative came for dinner on the first night of Chanukah. Wishing to please our children and to be a good guest, he brought along gifts — large cellophane bags stuffed with candies of every imaginable color, shape and flavor. We sat down to eat and our guest noticed that meat was on the menu.

"The candies are dairy. Better put them away and save them," said Uncle Bill. "Give them out tomorrow and tell the children I brought them."

The following afternoon, I suddenly remembered Uncle Bill and the candy. "Kids" I called. "We've got a special Chanuka present from our guests."

All the children, from the oldest, aged eleven, to the youngest, aged three, gathered round the dining room table in eager anticipation. I distributed the sacks. One of the children poured his out onto the dining room table: a treasury of tiny snicker bars, small caramel squares, licorice sticks with pink and white fillings, even a jelly candy made to look like a pair of dentures.

The kids were floating in paradise but before anyone could pop anything in their mouth, eleven-year-old Yossi brought us back down to earth.

"Ima, " he said, "are you sure those candies have hechsherim?"

"Oh my gosh!" He was right. When Uncle Bill presented me with the treats I had been too busy frying latkes in the kitchen to check where they had come from. Fortunately, there was a phone number printed below the name of the store. I dialed and made the necessary inquiries. Sadly, the answers were not quite to my liking. Much to my amazement, most of the children simply gave me back the bags. That just made my day.

All the tantrums, all the scolding, the breaking up fights, the sleepless nights and prayers, labor pains, the sweat, tears and toil that I had poured into these children were not in vain. They were growing up to be people I could be proud of and people who would bring nachas to their Creator.

Now that was quite enough to put me on Cloud Nine, but then Yossi said something which I think hit the spiritual jackpot. "Kids!" he announced with the utmost urgency in his young voice. "Let's not say a word to Uncle Bill; it would hurt his feelings. This is all a secret."

Here was my own son showing such sensitivity. My other children immediately agreed to the pact of silence. Now I was faced with the problem of what to do with the candy. I assumed that I'd just dump them in the trash

"Take them back to the store, Ima, and exchange them." said seven year old Shiah.

The following day, I happened to be near the candy store. Much to my amazement, the clerk took the sweets, weighed them and told me their cash worth. I was then free to exchange them for anything in the store that caught my fancy.

To me, this too was a miracle.

After considerable deliberation and quite a bit of squinting over microscopic hechsherim, I came up with the consolation prize, a super-sized Badatz-approved atomizer that shpritzes sweet liquid directly onto the tongue, plus a space-aged-looking spinning top that lights up as it spins and plays "sevivon sov sov sov" — one of each for each child. Identical gifts to avoid jealousy.

That night after candle lighting, I distributed the substitute prizes. The reviews were mixed. The younger children liked the atomizer. The older ones found them revolting. Some of the tops were sturdy. Others broke on the second or third spin. There were cries and shrieks and complaints and everything felt very normal.

But then again, isn't that life? One step forward and two steps back. Even amid the screams and cries and shrieks, I shall try to hold that precious moment in my mind when my young children proved that mitzvos bein odom LaMokom and bein odom lachavero were more valuable to them than even a sack of candy.


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