The children in all of us

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The children in all of us

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

Every culture has its favorite culinary specialties: for some it is couscous, while for others it might be kreplach, which is popular on Erev Yom Kippur and other times; it is almost a part of what we are. For me, Brooklyn-born and raised, one of my favorites is Black and White Cookies. To the uninitiated, this is a large round sweet cake that is flat and soft, covered in icing, half of which is chocolate and the other vanilla. If this sounds extremely fattening, you’re right and if it seems a tad unhealthy, you’re right again. However, like so much else that is pleasant in this world you just don’t think in such terms when a tray of these delectable tidbits sits invitingly on a table. I should assure you that I have long abandoned the appetite for these relics of my youth, but then again such sweets are part of my memory bank as well as my waistline. As you may have gathered, these cookies are a kid’s thing and Brooklyn kids go crazy for them. In Jerusalem, there is a bakery named “The Brooklyn Bakery” which specializes in baking American favorites for the large American expat community. I have seen their black and white cookies fly off the shelf and one has to pre-order them days in advance.

No matter the circumstance, Hashem awaits our prayers with the love of a concerned Father

The story is told of a ten year old boy who walked into a busy Boro Park bakery on a Friday and asked for a black and white cookie with chocolate sprinkles. The harassed owner was trying to close up and dismissed the child with a gruff “no.” The child left but within minutes he returned and asked, “Can I have a black and white cookie with sprinkles?” The owner looked up and once more flatly said, “no.” Ten minutes passed, the youngster returned and again sweetly asked the same question. The owner then lost his temper and in his half Yiddish-accented English screamed, “listen yingela, if you ask one more time for that black and white cookie, sprinkles or not, I will close your mouth with super glue!” The child stepped back in fear, left the shop, but then just moments later returned. He stood at the counter and asked in his sweet voice, “sir, do you have super glue?” The exasperated baker answered in the negative, at which the youngster calmly asked, “so do you have a black and white cookie with sprinkles?”

Kids never give up and when they want something they will nudge until they get whatever it is they desire. This is characteristic of all children, said the Barditchever Rebbe ztl, who pointed to two other things we should learn from them. First, that they are never still; children are always busy and are always seeking new activity and secondly, they can be upset one minute and calm the next. The Rebbe tells us that in our service to Hashem we should be childlike in these three ways. As we face our Father in Heaven we should speak to Him as what we truly are, His children. A yid can’t ever give up, and we must always seek new avenues to take towards connecting with Hashem. All too often we allow the sophistication of years of learning to obstruct the simple fact that we are Hashem’s children and should approach Him as such. Our sages tell us that Hashem seeks our prayers and wants us to turn to him simply with heartfelt prayers that come straight from the heart. The Kotzker often said that “there is nothing so whole as a broken heart”.

We are all now facing difficult times, moments that shake everyone at one level or another. The heart is gripped by the tension, what can we hope for in the near future, how will we get by? All this has come so suddenly and the storm seems to be just starting. History has shown us that in fact such things come and go. However, those caught in the deluge can take little comfort from this. To a Torah Jew the writing is clear: Hashem is rattling our cage, waking up humanity to the self- delusion that they have spun around themselves. For too long society has spent and devoured with no sense of propriety. There was little appreciation of modesty in the wider world and tragically in some of our own actions as well.

In these Holy Days of the year far be it from me to play the accuser in any way. Instead, I mean only to remind myself and those who read these words that no matter the circumstance, Hashem awaits our prayers with the love of a concerned Father.

The Bobover Rebbe Rav Naftali Zt”l was a giant in caring about the pain of others. He told me on a number of occasions that having had to be in debt so as to keep the Bobover Mosdos afloat he had become distinctly aware of how painful debt can be in others’ lives. Anyone who witnessed his prayers could see his concern to the point of deep sorrow. Yet his eyes revealed an almost childlike warmth. He spoke to Hashem directly and in his eyes you could see a sense of trust and hope. One took heart from his warmth and felt the load lighten just with his blessing.

We all must now become strong and focused. The test of the moment is to speak to Hashem with the trust of a child in his parents. As the Barditchever said, we should be childlike with no qualms, for no matter how old we may be we are still children to our Creator.

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