Shimon looked up at me with a serious look in his bright green eyes as he earnestly told me, “I’m going to measure which one is heavier, my mitzvos or my avayros.”
I couldn’t help but smile at his five year old virtues and watched as he took down the toy scale and took little teddy bears, moving them from side to side, looking for the correct balance.
Maybe I should’ve shared my snack? A teddy bear goes to the other side. I davened so nicely with Morah. Another teddy bear on the other side. I watched as Shimon moved teddy bears from side to side, wondering whether he even remembered his original statement. He seemed to be mesmerized, barely noticing anything around him. Just moving teddy bears from side to side.
I didn’t play with Eli even when he asked me to. Teddy bear on the other side. I helped Morah clean up before running to go swimming. Teddy bear. I didn’t forget any clothes by the pool. Teddy bear. I listened to Morah nicely when she told us that story. Teddy bear. I answered questions about the parsha. Teddy bear.
Fifteen minutes later Shimon looked up again, his smile shining from ear to ear, his face radiating pure innocence.
“Yay! My mitzvos are heavier!” he exclaimed happily as he put away the scale. His smile was contagious and I couldn’t help but beam in response.
Since we were young children we have been told by our teachers and parents what Rosh Hashanah means. It means Hashem has a big scale on which He measure your right and wrong. Do you think about what that means? Have you ever stopped and weighed your actions? Do you ever step out of your comfortable box, and take a pause while you think about the impact you make on the people around you?
Children often can teach us lessons that are more powerful than any teacher or speaker. A young child’s innocent simplicity can often shed be a ray of light on a matter that seems so dark and gray. Adults are clouded with biases while children see things in black and white. When a child looks you in the eye and sincerely and naively asks a brutally honest question, it almost knocks you off your feet, reminding you what you really should see clearly.
Wipe off your stained lens, and take another look at the world. Hashem has a scale sitting up in Shamayim, and teddy bear after teddy bear are piling up. How humbling it is to watch a five year old sit and weigh his own mitzvos and avioros. How often has your sixth grade teacher suggested a cheshbon hanefesh to you? Yet now, caught up in our jobs and lives we never stop to think how many teddy bears are on each side.
The seat you gave up on the city bus. A teddy bear on the right side. The penny you dropped in the tzeddakah box in shul. Teddy bear. The phone call from your mother that you carelessly ignored. A teddy bear on the left. The coffee you never made a bracha acharona on. Teddy bear on the left. The smile you offered the passing old lady. Teddy bear. The mincha you missed sitting in the office. Teddy bear on the left. Teddy bear. Teddy bear.
When you look back up, counting teddy bears, moving them from end to end, which side is heavier? When you take a bear off the left side, did you smile happily, knowing the right side was so much heavier?
Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps there would be so many teddy bears you’ve neglected to notice? So many teddy bears you just disregard, dismissing them with some weak rationalization.
If you stopped and started moving teddy after teddy, would you look back up, your eyes a twinkling green, and smile, happily, as you announce, “Yay my mitzvos are heavier?”Alti Bukalov
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