The Cake I DID NOT Want to Make

The Cake I DID NOT Want to Make

“Eema, can you pleeeease make a cake for tomorrow, OK?” Yoel pleaded yesterday as I was heading out the door for a wedding.

And then he handed me this note from his teacher Rabbi G.:

The note says, “Yoel volunteered his dear mother to prepare a cake to celebrate our completion of Parshat Vayeshev, tomorrow, Wednesday. Thank you, G.”

A few weeks ago somebody asked me to think of a tsaddik I have met. And right away the image of Rabbi G. came to my mind. He is a gentle, holy, good-hearted soul who, I am certain, could never imagine that there is a mother who would be less than thrilled to bake a cake to celebrate her first-grader’s siyum.

I can also imagine Rabbi G.’s wife (whom I have never met) responding to such a note by embracing her first grader with emotion, “Elyashiv! (or possibly Neriya or Ohr Yisrael?) I am so proud of you! You are learning Hashem’s Torah, and now you have completed an entire parsha! What nachat! I have a wedding tonight, but when I come home I will make you a cake with a marzipan sefer Torah on top, OK?”

But that wasn’t my reaction. My reaction was more along the lines of: A cake? For tomorrow? You’ve GOT TO BE KIDDING!

But then I looked at Yoel’s disappointed face. And I looked down at the note.

There was no way out of this one.

And I decided I could cry or smile as I made this cake I didn’t want to make. It was my choice


A few days ago I went to Shalom Felafel on Yaffo Street, and the following sign made me chuckle: a list of memorable responses the felafel seller has received to the question he asks hundreds of times a day, “You want charif [hot sauce] with that?”


Here’s a translation:


1. A little
2. A bit
3. A really little bit
4. Not really
5. A drop
6. A little drop
7. The littlest drop
8. the littlest, littlest drop
9. Really a drop
10. Sort of
11. Just for the taste
12. Just for the smell
13. G-d forbid!
14. You’re killing me!
15. Not a lot
16. Have mercy
17. No no no no no
18. Under no circumstances
19. No, no, I have an ulcer
20. No, no, it messes up my stomach
21. What do you want to do? Kill me?
22. I’m Ashkenazi
23. A bit
24. Spread it
25. Put it, put it on
26. Have no mercy
27. Pile it on
28. I can handle it
29. Put it on, don’t be afraid
30. Why are you scaring me?
31. Take it easy, for Ashkenazim
32. Put, put it on, it’s for my boss
33. I’m a Moroccan, sweety!
34. Slowly, slowly
35. Put, put, it’s for hardworking men. Make it spicy enough for their mothers’ mothers.

How different people choose to respond to the exact same chareef. From “Pile it on” to “What do you want to do? Kill me?”


This morning I was walking down Ben Yehuda trying to get some exercise, when I saw something that brought tears to my eyes, so I knew I had to stop right there and start filming.

The musical group “B’Ketsev HaShalva” is sponsored by Shalva: The Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel:

This sweet performance moved me so deeply, because I imagine that few of these teenagers, if given the choice, would have asked to be born “special.”

But every day they make a choice. To laugh or cry. To say “Pile it on” or “What do you want to do? Kill me?”

And this morning, despite the inevitable disappointments and frustrations and challenges…That are part of being special. That are part of being human.

They chose to laugh and say “Pile it on.” Bless me that I will too.


  1. Good for you! It’s wonderful you realized the choice you had in time to make the cake while smiling rather than a few days later after being a grouch.

  2. Love this!!!

  3. I love when your posts are not only inspirational but also give over the unique flavor of Eretz Yisrael to those of us far away! Thank you.

  4. That is hysterical that your son volunteered you and that his rebbe took him seriously and wrote you a note!!! I can’t imagine ANYTHING like that happening here, haha! (Besides for the fact that you’re not allowed to bring anything home-baked to school anyway, for kashrus reasons!)

  5. Amazing post, beautiful vignettes. The way they flow together is perfect.

    And don’t feel guilty, I have responded the same way to more than one of those notes, and been so happy when the cake was made and the happy child proudly carried their treasure to school the next day…. Even if it was a packet cake!

  6. Lauren Adilev

    I have a recipe for a chocolate pudding cake, eggless and pareve;with checked flour, it takes 6 minutes to bake, and comes out with a bubbly frosting-like top. Easy-I can give you the recipe.

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