It is not unusual for adults to give children some sort of treat for Shabbos. But this past Shabbos it was turn around time and we adults were on the receiving end of a yummy Shabbos delicacy.
We had guests for Shabbos, a family of four from Yavne, two of them children. And the children, a boy aged 12 and his little sister aged ten made it all the more special.
We always have some words of Torah at the Shabbos table. When kids are present they are sure to be put on the spot, having to respond to a request that they give over some words of wisdom, something connected to the Torah portion, maybe something they learned in school. It is not unusual for them to beg off with "I'm not prepared, but next time, please, for sure; may I have some more chumas; thank you".
But not this time; they were loaded for bear. The boy gave over an intricate discourse taken from the Talmud. I for one was flabbergasted. Last year you could hardly get him to remain at the table when he was asked to say something, anything. And that night it was all pearls of wisdom. And his sister was not to be outdone.
Last year it was all you could do to pry her away from her collection of Barbie Dolls. However on this Shabbos eve, she was cookin' (not actually cooking which is a forbidden Shabbos labor, but you know what I mean, right?) on all burners.
This is what she said: Firstly she spoke about the time of Noach when all of humankind was corrupt and engaged in every sort of negative behavior, particularly thievery. This ten year old went on to say that if you wrong a person and do not make amends before you pass away, you lose the opportunity to right the wrong, but not for all time. Your soul which would prefer to reside in Heaven is reluctantly shuttled back to Earth in a new body, and you are given one more chance to wipe the slate clean. The adults at the table chuckled among themselves, trying to make light of how many times any one of us had been "recycled".
Then the girl launched into a story about a righteous man walking along a road who suddenly falls into a pit that should have been repaired, but was not. At the bottom of the pit there was a lot of paint, and his clothing soon became covered with it. The man manages to climb out of the pit and scrambles back on to the road. And who does he see coming towards him, none other than the person who put the paint in the pit in the first place, and maybe was also responsible for the pit not being safely covered.
The righteous man is in a quandary. On one hand he is angry about having his clothing ruined by the paint, but on the hand he wants to make absolutely sure that he will not wrong another individual. He wants to be entirely certain that unlike his ruined clothing, his record is utterly without a doubt spotless. He does not want his soul to be recycled at the time of his passing.
So what does the man do? He gathers himself, greets the offender and says, "Pardon me Sir, but I fell into this pit and accidentally took some of your paint with me on my clothing as I climbed out. May I compensate you for the loss of your paint?"
What a story! There are a lot of lessons here such as controlling anger, humility and being scrupulous in your dealings with others. And from a ten year old, yet. As to her parents, talk about having nachas from your children. And for my wife and me, not only bursting with joy for our Shabbos table, but seeing two little ones well on their way to being Torah observant Jews. Does it get better than that?