Apparent to a Parent
Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27 )
Parents have feelings too. In this week's Torah portion (44:30-34), Yehudah was ready to put his life on the line and face up to the powerful Viceroy of Egypt in order to prevent him from doing something that would make his father, Jacob, upset. So too, we should do what we can, not to cause our parents to feel bad.
In our story, a kid acts in a way that's not apparent - to help a parent.
IN GOOD TASTE
Jamie watched as his mom placed the big serving tray filled with assorted home baked cookies on the living room table in front of the guests. His mother was hosting a meeting and she made some amazing cookies - gooey chocolate chip, frosted creams of several colors and two types of double-layer sandwich delights.
"Wow, Mom!" the boy said, eyeing the cookies hungrily. "You're the best baker in the world. Is it okay for me just to have a taste or two?"
"Hmm ... well... How can I say no to someone who called me the world's best baker?" his mother smiled. "But just a taste, okay?"
With that invitation, Jamie dug in. After taking one of each as his mom asked, he backed up from the tray to give the approaching guests room to help themselves.
"Um, Mom," Jamie said, tugging on her sleeve.
"These cookies are unbelievably great, but do you mind if I have some more of the pink frosted ones?"
"But I need them for people to snack on during the meeting."
"I know," he said, "but please?"
"Please!!!" his eyes begged.
"I suppose so...." Jamie's mom said hesitantly, a little confused about her son's insistence. She was even more confused as he pushed himself in front of the other takers and speed-gobbled every pink-frosted on the tray before anyone else was able to take even one.
"Jamie! Why did you do that?" she asked, perturbed. "Now there aren't any more of those for the guests!"
"Oh? I'm really sorry mom. They were just so yummy I couldn't stop myself."
"Well, maybe going to bed right now and not leaving your room until tomorrow will help you remember to control yourself in the future," she said sharply.
"But Mom..." Jamie was about to say something, then stopped himself. Though usually he would argue when his mom tried to ground him, especially on a night like this when it would be so interesting to stick around, this time he just lowered his head and went...
It was already late when Jamie, who hadn't been able to fall asleep, heard his mother walking down the hall toward his room. The door opened.
"Oh, my little darling. I'm so sorry," she said.
"Huh?" said the boy, drowsily.
"The meeting just finished and when I was putting everything away I discovered an extra half-dozen of the pink-frosted cookies that I'd forgotten that I had..."
Jamie blushed as his Mom went on. "So when I tasted one, I realized the terrible mistake I had made... I put salt in the pink frosting instead of sugar. They tasted awful! That's why you gobbled them all up so quickly before the guests could taste them, isn't it? To save me from embarrassment."
"I didn't want you to feel bad, Mom," Jamie said, "You worked so hard so your party would be good."
"Well," she said, hugging him, "the party was good. But not nearly as good as my wonderful boy who makes me proud to be his mother."
Q. How did Jamie's mother feel at first?
A. She was mad that he ate all the pink cookies.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She was happy and proud to see how much he was willing to do to stop her from feeling bad.
Q. What life-lesson could someone learn from this story?
A. Jamie cared a lot about his mother and her feelings. So much so that he was willing to stomach some salty cookies and even get grounded to save her from embarrassment. Our parents' feelings should be top priority with us, too.
Q. Do you think Jamie did the right thing?
A. It wasn't an easy thing for him to swallow - literally and figuratively - but since the guests were already about to start taking cookies and there was no time to do anything else, he acted nobly to protect his mother's feelings.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. In your opinion, need a person be as careful not to hurt his parents' feelings as he would be for those of a stranger?
A. No. He should be even more careful! Our parents, besides causing us to be alive, have given us so much and are deserving of an even higher level of our respect than everyone else.
Q. Our sages describe God as being our 'parent.' How do you think that description is apt?
A. A parent gives us our life. In a more ultimate sense, so does God. A parent loves us more than anyone else - so does God. A parent's greatest pleasure is when we are genuinely happy - so is God's.