Everyone loved Shana.
In her quiet way, Shana would ask the girls to play jump rope or sardines at recess. She would spend time reading quietly in her room. I was one of her biggest fans — until the day the trouble began.
It was the middle days of Passover, and Shana had come over for a play date. We had gone up to my bedroom, where I had a brand new doll collection and a one-of-a-kind antique doll carriage from the late 1800s.
“Do you want to play?” I asked my friend.
“Sure, let’s go” Shana said, sitting down next to me on my pink quilt and grabbing Ruthy and Julie, my favorite American Girl dolls.
We played quietly together, giggling; I showed Shana the new outfits I had bought the dolls with my allowance.
As I picked up Julie’s new purple jacket, I noticed Shana blinking strangely.
“Do you want to play something else?” I asked.
Shana didn’t answer. She just looked around. The next thing I saw, my friend grabbed Ruthy and bolted out of my room. Was she playing hide-and-seek with me?
I ran to catch Shana, and as I did, Shana tossed my American Girl doll down 20 steps! There was a loud bang followed by complete silence. I looked around and took in the scene. Ruthy was lying headless at the bottom of the steps. I yelled.
“Cool,” my brother Aaron said. “Let’s play catch with her head.”
“Shana,” I said, choking on my words. “You pushed my doll down the steps.”
She stared at me for a second, then bolted down the steps, threw Ruthy to my brother.
“You better give me my doll, Aaron!” I shrieked.
Aaron then ran and placed the broken doll on my bed.
“Stop everyone!” I yelled, burying my head under the pillows on my bed.
The next thing I knew, Shana and Aaron were downstairs, and I was left crying. I hated Shana Schwartz, and I never ever wanted to see her again.
I stayed on my bed, while my brother told my parents to have Shana’s parents pick her up. As I lay there, I couldn’t figure it out. My good friend totally destroyed my favorite toy, and for no good reason. For the next month, I didn’t speak to Shana.
Then, one day, I got a phone call from Shana and her mother.
“Avigail,” the voice on the other line was barely audible. “I’m sorry.”
Mrs. Schwartz cut into the talk and told me she was sorry, too. I appreciated this. It was a pleasant surprise. But it did not explain Shana’s behavior.
Until it did …
Mrs. Schwartz continued: “The day Shana came to your house, she was taking a new medicine. And that medicine made her act wild and a bit crazy. I didn’t realize what had happened at your house until yesterday, when Shana told me the whole story. We will replace your doll. And good news, Shana’s back to her old self now, and she wants to be your friend.”
Shana didn’t throw my doll on purpose. It was a medicine she was taking to treat ADHD. Now I understood.
“I forgive you,” I said, beaming.
And that day, I determined to give people the benefit of the doubt.
1. What are some ways we jump to conclusions about situations?
2. When someone hurts us but then asks for forgiveness, are we really able to forgive them?
3. When we don’t like what is happening to us, are we able to come up with other reasons for what might be causing it?
Danielle Sarah Storch is a local freelance writer. “Shabbat Table Talk” is a monthly feature synthesizing Torah insights and lessons for children of all ages.