April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Planning a surprise party is a risky project. Besides keeping the party a secret, those planning the party have to know the Guest of Honor well. Who would she want there? What kind of party would he want? Does this person even want a party? Although a well-executed surprise party is the ultimate event, even one mistake can ruin the entire thing.

Despite these risks, the Weber siblings were committed to pull off the perfect surprise party for their mother. The kids felt confident in their party-planning skills, as long as they had Dad’s help. However, their father wasn’t exactly excited about the idea. “Kiddos, do you not remember all the times I tried to surprise your mother?” Tamar, the oldest Weber sibling, spoke up. “Yeah, I remember. There were the earrings I went with Mommy to return, and also the weekend vacation you planned that she made you cancel.” Dad nodded and smiled. “Yep. How was I supposed to know Mommy was hoping to spend our anniversary weekend cleaning up the backyard? Kids, your mom doesn’t love surprises. You know this. A surprise party is a bad idea.” The kids groaned. “But Daddy,” piped up Liam, the youngest of the three, “we really really want to surprise Mommy. It will be so-so-so special for her!” Dad tilted his head for a second, thinking. “How about a compromise? We will let Mommy choose the date and time for the party, and ask her a few questions about what she wants. Then we can make the rest of it a surprise.”

Tamar, Shira and Liam looked at each other. “You guys know Dad’s right,” remarked Shira. “It’s not worth it. What if Mommy really doesn’t like the surprise?” Tamar and Liam agreed (although Liam had a frown on his face while he did so), and they decided to bring it up with their mother. So, at dinner that night, the kids told their mother about their plan for a “sort-of” surprise party. Mom agreed (and really appreciated not being completely surprised). She also seemed to be OK with her husband and kids planning the entire thing. “Mommy,” asked Tamar, “is there anything specific you want or don’t at your party?” Mom thought for a second. “Not really. Just get food I like—nothing fancy—invite my closest friends, and maybe plan a game that you think I would like. That’s all.” Well, that seemed easy enough.

The Weber kids got to work planning everything. They put together a list of their mother’s favorite non-fancy foods, her closest friends, and games she liked. The kids also made a playlist of songs their mom liked, and started on a slideshow. Finally, they went through their mother’s closet to decide which color combinations she liked. After all their research was done, the siblings shared their ideas with Dad. He made a few edits, added a few suggestions, and gave his final approval on the plans. Both the children and their father felt excited about how much they thought Mom Weber would love the party.

That night, Miriam Weber woke up from a strange dream. In her dream, she kept opening the front door to her home, expecting a surprise. But each time she walked through the door, she found herself right outside the house again. This happened over and over, until finally, she entered the front hall and heard “surprise!” At this point Miriam was just expecting another front door, so the shock woke her up. After taking 20 seconds to clear her head, Miriam crept quietly out of her room and headed downstairs to get a drink.

And there it was, on the kitchen table, a piece of paper with the words “Mommy’s Party” in big letters at the top. Miriam knew she shouldn’t look, but the dream she had spooked her too much. Maybe just a peak… So Miriam took a quick glance and saw something that made her stop in her tracks. Why was Tova on the invite list? Didn’t Daniel know they weren’t close anymore? Then Miriam kept reading. Some of the food wasn’t right, and neither were the games. Miriam knew she had to say something, and the next day, she did.

“But Mir, I thought you and Tova were really close!” Daniel was the one surprised now. “We were, Dan. But remember when I told you Tova was really close with Jen now? That meant, instead of me.” Daniel smirked. “How could I have missed that?” Miriam then turned to her children. “Tamar, remember what I ordered last from the Pizza President? A french fry slice with mushrooms and cheddar cheese? That’s because I got sick of spinach pizza.” Tamar shrugged. “You said you wanted to try that slice. Nothing about being sick of spinach.” Miriam smiled. “I get it. Also, why did you guys think I would want a game of Family Feud? I only watch it every day so I can talk about it with Bubby Brenda; it’s her favorite show. I don’t actually like that.” Shira threw up her hands. “Mommy, did you expect us to read your mind? Why don’t you just tell us what you want?” And that’s exactly what Miriam Weber did.

Parshat Mishpatim begins with “these are the laws you should place before [Bnei Yisrael].” After hearing the Aseret Hadibrot, Bnei Yisroel might have thought they could figure out Hashem’s will from the 10 main rules. However, it’s not that simple. Moshe had to tell Bnei Yisrael exactly how to practice the Torah by “placing them before the Jewish people.” This way, we wouldn’t try to “surprise” Hashem.


Yair Daar is the director of Student Life at Bicultural Hebrew Academy High School. He can be reached at [email protected]

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