Shemot: 32: 19
Nachum Hereford loved cookies.
He loved all kinds of cookies. Oreos, chocolate chips, lady fingers, oatmeal, Swiss fudge. Yum.
But the cookies he loved most of all were his mother's home-made butter cookies. They were golden delicious, and they melted in your mouth in the most wonderous way. When his mom baked them, the whole house was filled with the smell of bakery heaven.
One week Mrs Hereford baked a big batch of cookies for shabbat on Thursday afternoon. She used a special baker's mold that made all the cookies in the shape of Jewish symbols. There were dreidels, menorahs, Torahs, magen Dovids, and shofars. There was even one (but only one) of the Ten Commandments, which Mrs Hereford made extra special by putting chocolate lettering on both sides of the double-tablet cookie.
Sometimes Nachum's mother would give him a cookie before shabbat, since she knew it was his favorite thing in the world, but this week she denied him his early morsel.
"I need them all, because we're having guests, so don't touch!" she admonished. And she placed the cookies up on a high shelf where she was sure wandering hands couldn't reach them.
Now Nachum was generally a good boy. He did his chores and listened to his parents, most of the time. But denying him his cookie was more than he could bare. The whole house smelled like a giant butter cookie, for goodness sake! He simply couldn't live without at least one.
On Thursday night Nachum bided his time until he thought everyone was asleep. Once the house was silent, he climbed out of bed and snuck down the stairs and into the kitchen. The coast was clear.
Nachum pulled a kitchen chair over to the edge of the lower cabinets and placed a foot stool on top of the chair. Then he climbed up onto the granite counter. It was cold under his feet.
Half way there.
Next he stacked a group of cookbooks together (The Kosher Palette, The Enchanted Brocolli Forest, Kosher by Design, The Joy of French Cooking, and A Taste of Teaneck) and topped it off with the Bergen County Yellow Pages. As he climbed atop his culinary mountain and reached for the cookie jar he was sure he was home free--
Upstairs in the dark, Mr. Hereford heard noises in the kitchen.
"What was that?"
"I'm sure it's nothing, honey," Mrs. Hereford said. "Go back to sleep."
"I'd better go check it out."
He stepped into his slippers and walked quietly toward the stairs.
When Mr. Hereford flipped on the light switch in the kitchen, he almost couldn't believe the scene he witnessed. There was his beloved son Nachum perched precariously high atop a pile of cookbooks with a golden cookie in his outstretched hand. And it wasn't just any cookie; it was the Ten Commandments.
--Nachum had the cookie in his hand when suddenly the light came on. He was so startled, he let go of the Ten Commandments cookie, and it it fell to the ground, ricocheting off the granite and falling to the off-white tile floor, smashing into hundreds of pieces.
Needless to say, he was in a lot of trouble. After he was made to sweep up the cookie crumbs, Nachum was sent to his room-- it was after midnight, after all-- and straight to sleep. The next day he dressed and got ready for school, and other than a few nasty looks from his mother, no one spoke of the cookie fiasco of the night before.
Before he left the front door of the house, Nachum turned to his parents.
"I'm so sorry," Nachum offered. A tear poured down his cheek. Then he left for school and closed the door behind him.
Friday night passed without incident, and on shabbat morning, Nachum came downstairs dressed in his suit, hoping to receive a butter cookie before he left for shul with his father. He would have been perfectly happy with a dreidel or a menorah-- whatever his mother could spare-- but he would understand if none was forthcoming.
His mother smiled at him as he entered the kitchen. She reached into the cookie jar, which now sat in the center of the kitchen table, and pulled out... a new Ten Commandments cookie. It didn't have chocolate lettering on both sides like the first one did, but it was still a mighty fine cookie.
And Nachum didn't understand how, but by some shabbat miracle, it was still warm.