| Musings |

Upper Crust

Why in the world can’t I part with this piece of bread?


It’s only the crust, I think.

Only the crust?! Yitzy can eat it soon with peanut butter. At two-and-a-half, he isn’t picky. At least not yet. Yeah — but it’ll have to sit on the table or counter until then. And I want the place clean.

I can break it up into little pieces and chuck it. A wisp of a memory tickles at the far recesses of my gray matter.

Mrs. Brisk back in fifth grade, her navy cable knit sweater firmly closed with three brown wooden buttons, her sheitel hairs standing stiff and straight, as daunted in her presence as we are. I’m lunch monitor together with Chevy Braunstein, and there are oodles of half-eaten slices of bread strewn all over the table, thanks to the mandatory wash-for-hamotzi school rule that had every student either really washing and stuffing the requisite k’zayis down her throat, or mock washing-eating-bentshing (with successful improvisations instead of sheim Hashem). Apparently, eating bread was out of style back then.

“It’s not kavod to throw out bread. It’s best to divide it into little pieces and then dispose of it, in order not to shame the bread,” Mrs. Brisk had said. Chevy and I stood in Bnos Esther’s pink-tiled lunchroom near the giant garbage bin, very slowly tearing the bread apart into teeny crumbs, because girls on lunch duty got a late pass for English class.

We giggled away, Chevy and I, relishing our legitimately earned free time. And besides, I privately thought, when else do I get to spend time alone with a reincarnation of Sarah Crewe? Though we never did end up becoming best friends, despite my fervent hopes.

So just throw it out! screams every fiber of my logic.

But I remain standing near my half-cleared breakfast table, dumbly grasping a slice of whole wheat bread that’s missing a negligible piece in the middle section because a certain four-year-old boy had deemed crust inedible this morning. He’d left some bread attached to the crust lest he reaches it by accident, and had only eaten the very center.

I turn the bread over in my hand. Made with flour, water, oil, salt. Preservatives, maybe. How much does it cost, for goodness’ sake? Five cents for this little piece, maximum.

We live in bountiful times, when food is a cheap commodity. In faraway North Korea or perhaps in war-torn Yemen, little boys might be sitting at the curbside right now begging for alms or scraps of food. Should I place the bread in an envelope and mail it to Bangladesh? Not practical.

Still, I clutch the poor crust, unable to move.

My little boy recited a beautiful brachah on this bread. How can I throw it out? Oh, I’m not going to get sentimental here. That’s not it.

Why in the world can’t I part with this piece of bread?

Get over it. You can’t hold onto every last bit of everything. It’s not considered being wasteful to throw it out. Hashem doesn’t expect you to use every last crumb.

Realization dawns. It’s my dear Zeidy, Tatty’s father.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 682)

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