Once in the town of Paramus, there were two veteran teachers, Morah Chani and Morah Mirriam. They both taught kindergarden at a wonderful Jewish Day School, one of New Jersey's best.
Morah Chani and Morah Mirriam had different didactic approaches to the classroom setting. Morah Chani was a hand holder. She focused on spoiling her young charges and keeping them happy with overwhelming praise and lots of gifts and prizes. Morah Mirriam was more of a law and order-type. There was no coddling in Morah Mirriam's classroom. It was her way, or the highway. When she taught a lesson, everyone was expected to pay attention, if the little darlings knew what was good for them.
One of the settings where the two teacher's contrasting styles was most evident was the weekly Shabbat party. Every Friday morning, lekavod shabbat, the two teachers would each throw a party to celebrate the upcoming day of rest. In both classrooms, a boy would be chosen as the Shabbat Abba, who recited the bracha on the grape juice, and a girl would be designated the Shabbat Ima, who made the bracha on the candles.
It was there that the similarity ended.
Morah Chana's party was like a scene from Willy Wonka. There were Oreos and licorice. Laffy Taffy was available in every color of the rainbow. It was a hyperglycemic holiday (too much?). Morah Chani offered lots of hugs, and a brief dvar Torah the children could share with their parents around the Friday night table. It was truly a joyous affair.
Morah Mirriam also had fun with her young charges. They sang zemirot in honor of the upcoming shabbat. In fact, they learned all kinds of wonderful tunes while sitting properly in a circle. And they also got a dvar Torah to bring home to their families. But other than the grape juice and a nice round challah roll, there was no candy. Students of Morah Mirriam gazed longingly out the doorway at their friends in Morah Chani's classroom across the hall. They yearned for sweets, but alas, none were forthcoming.
One week--in fact, it was the shabbat of parshat Beshalach-- Morah Chani was in a big hurry on Thursday night. Her daughter was sick, the in-laws were coming for the weekend from Cleveland, and her sitter had called in sick. Long story short, everything was so mixed up, she forgot to buy the sweets for the weekly Shabbat Party.
"I'm sure this won't be a big deal," Morah Chani thought to herself. "I know these kids well, and I'm a veteran teacher. I can get by without the candy for a week. We'll still have a good time in the classroon lekavod Shabbat."
Boy, was she wrong!