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The Bagel Incident
Mom with a View

The Bagel Incident

Luckily I have some vision of who I’d like to be and screaming like a banshee isn’t it.


It’s a tradition to make a celebration called a "siyum" when you finish a significant portion of the Torah. Learning Torah, while not typically thought of as hard labor (no hard hat or construction boots) actually requires tremendous physical and intellectual effort (the two go hand in hand). And it demands determination and constancy. Like all of life’s true accomplishments, Torah is acquired through consistent effort, day in and day out. The consistency itself, in the face of life’s challenges is not small part of the achievement.

And so, my husband recently made a big siyum (a very big one!). We planned a modest celebration at our son’s high school.

Teenage boys are so easy to feed – some bagels, lox and cream cheese – and some homemade desserts. I was in charge of the food. I baked the cookies (my daughter made gingerbread cookies in the shape of Torahs – you’re never too old…), I sliced vegetables. I made platters of lox and purchased multiple containers of cream cheese.

And I order 6 dozen bagels from a local bakery, to be picked up at 6:30 a.m. the morning of the event.

I was very excited for my husband. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bakery. Okay, I picked my exhausted self slowly out of bed and dragged myself to the bakery – slightly later than the appointed time. But the bagels weren’t there.

“What?!” I screamed. “We ordered these ahead of time. Everyone is waiting. My husband is making a siyum; we need these bagels!”

Actually, I didn’t scream. I waited somewhat patiently, exercising self-control – although my facial expression may have communicated my displeasure.

But I thought those thoughts. I could feel the frustration beginning to seep in and grow. And, yet, I wasn’t oblivious to the irony. It was a celebration of Torah learning, a study that is supposed to help us emulate the Almighty, to be more Godlike in our behavior.

To lose my temper at the bakery because I wanted bagels for the siyum would have missed the point entirely. I came close.

Luckily I stopped myself. Luckily I had perspective. Luckily I have some vision of who I’d like to be and that screaming banshee lurking in the dark recesses of my personality just isn’t it.

I’m very proud of my husband’s achievements. I like to think I’ve grown from it also. But it’s clearly not enough. I have a long way to go. I think I’d better do more than bask in his glory; I’d better immerse myself in some consistent Torah learning of my own.

And, in case you’re wondering, the staff at the bakery was very apologetic and delivered the bagels directly to my home 10 minutes later. Not a morsel was left…

January 7, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) SusanE, January 18, 2012 8:13 PM

You should have been at the Bakery at 6:30.

Did the Bakery forget to fill your order? If you had called the Bakery at 6:30 saying you would be late, all that drama could have been avoided. I think you may have been screaming type angry with yourself instead of the bakery. ~~~~~~~ Well, it was your husbands day and he didn't need to know about the mix-up so it was good you held your tongue. So glad the celebration included the bagels. As one woman commented would have been a beautiful day with or without.

(8) Anonymous, January 17, 2012 4:44 PM

great self control

of course, most people would go wild if the order is not there. that is only natural. only special people realize that the siyum is not the real thing; it is the learning of Torah. so,what would happen if there were no bagels: you just tell the guests that there was a mixup and they will make the best of it. tell them: pretned today is Pessah and they cannot eat bagels anyway. never let the situation get the better of you. you must defeat the situation.

(7) Tina L, January 13, 2012 1:12 PM

Oh How I try to control my anger

Not an easy task!!! I always considered myself not an angry person (which is true) but I now view myself as one so i can put myself in place and know that I have to work on my anger even if I am not the angriest of them all! having lots to do and small children running around can get me very impatient and it is hard work to try and control it (which is why i fail to on many occasions) Kol Hakavod to you for being able to control yourself!

(6) Anonymous, January 12, 2012 8:24 PM

Well done. Keeping our eyes on the goal - to become connected to G-d - is the way to our inner freedom.

(5) Judy Kropf, January 11, 2012 6:05 PM

I had a similar experience yesterday!

Emunah, thank you for posting this! I had the same experience yesterday, trying desperately to get to my Bikram yoga class (which I've become slightly addicted to for both physical and mental health), and my 12 yr old daughter was dawdling and missed her school bus, so I had to take her to school before the class. I was yelling at her, "If I miss my yoga class because of you, I am going to be so upset!" (Very zen, aren't I?) As it turned out, she was on time and so was I, but it really taught me a lesson about managing my anger.

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