July 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When Words Speak Louder Than Actions

“Don’t forget to study for Tuesday’s test! There’s a lot of information you need to know, so use your free time wisely!” And with that, Doctor Ziller’s class began to pack up and head for the exit. The school day was officially over and the weekend was on the way. However, most students in Honors Physics weren’t looking forward to relaxing or having fun. No, this weekend was for one thing—studying.

As they walked down the hallway and towards the front doors, Molly and Gabby began the usual round of complaining before each of Ziller the Killer’s tests. “I think this one is the worst ever,” began Gabby. “Eighty-nine terms and 22 multi-step formula questions?! Does he think we are computers?” Molly smiled. “I bet even a computer would fail this test. Well, at least there isn’t a writing section this time! Remember the Six-Hour Essay Incident?”

As the girls walked and talked, they were joined by a third, Hannah. Hannah looked surprisingly calm as she slowed her jog and fell in line with the other two. “Uh, Hannah?” began Molly. “Where’s your bag?” Hannah shrugged casually. “Left it at school. Don’t need it.” Molly lifted an eyebrow in confusion. “And what about Killer Ziller’s Physics test? Are you just going to leave all your study material at school, too?” Hannah repeated the same shrug. “Yep. Don’t need it.” Now Gabby chimed in. “So, you’re just giving up? I guess I respect that. Better than spending the whole weekend studying and failing anyway.” Hannah smiled. “Don’t worry. I have a plan. See you guys!” And with that, Hannah ran off towards the pizza store.

Neither Gabby nor Molly had a clue what Hannah was up to. Hannah was not the type to cheat, or do anything dishonest, for that matter. She didn’t normally make excuses, ask for extensions, or complain for extra points. What kind of “plan” could someone like that invent? The girls spent two minutes on the topic, but that was it. Too much to study to worry about Hannah.

However, when Monday morning arrived, Gabby and Molly found out they had no choice but to worry. You see, Hannah finally told them her plan, and it was bad. The chances that a teacher nicknamed “Killer” would go for Hannah’s plan was basically zero. Molly and Gabby would have gone with less than zero if that were a possibility. At least Hannah took her friends’ advice to ask Doctor Ziller privately; they didn’t want Hannah embarrassed in front of the entire class.

So, after class ended, and the last group of students left, Hannah went straight up to her teacher’s desk. “Doctor Ziller?” she began. The Killer turned toward Hannah. “Yes?” Hannah still looked confident. “Could I ask you about tomorrow’s test?” Doctor Ziller nodded and put out his hands as if to say “go ahead.” Hannah then smiled, reached into her bag, and pulled out a notebook full of doodles. “You know how we once had a class conversation about learning strategies? You said some people learn better while doodling? I think I do.” Doctor Ziller looked confused. “OK, so what’s your question?” Hannah took a deep breath. “Well, look at ALL these doodles from your class. With all this doodling, I must know a TON!”

Doctor Ziller burst out laughing. He couldn’t imagine Hannah was serious. But then he looked at Hannah’s face. “You’re not serious, right?” he asked, while still chuckling. Hannah’s eyes began to water. “Wait, you are serious.”

After a few minutes of alternating between crying and blowing her nose, Hannah began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. How could she be so ridiculous?! Did she really think this would work? After finally calming down, Hannah apologized to Doctor Ziller. He smiled at Hannah. “It’s OK. At least you’ll have a funny story to tell your grandkids. Now, let’s discuss a makeup date.”

On Rosh Hashanah, many of us have a custom to eat simanim, foods that symbolize what we want our years to be. An apple and honey for a sweet new year. The head of a (gummy) fish so we will be at the “head” of whatever we do. Is it enough just to eat these foods? Will Hashem give me a sweet year just because I ate something sweet?

In fact, the simanim do more than just taste good. They help direct our thoughts at what we want to ask from Hashem. The act of eating alone is not enough. We must use the foods to inspire us to daven for the exact outcome each food symbolizes. That is why many say a special “Yehi Ratzon” tefillah along with each of the simanim. We can just come to Hashem on Yom HaDin with a few snacks we ate at dinner; if so, we will fail our “test.”

So why do we eat these simanim in the first place? Perhaps it’s because on Rosh Hashanah, we hope that Hashem judges us based on our intentions. We make mistakes, but not because we want to. So, in order to show appreciation that Hashem looks past what we do, we express tefillah through our actions. As if to say “we will try to do better this coming year.”

Shana Tova, everyone!


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

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles