Last week we celebrated my little girl's seventh birthday. She had been planning the event since the day after she turned six. Teneya was born shortly before Shavuot and we fashioned her name from the special basket that held the first fruits on their way to the Temple. With her middle name, Havatzelet ("lily"), she carries on the blessed memory of my grandmother, Lillian Margolin. In parashat Ki Tavo (starting in Deut. 26) it's written: "When you enter the Land...then you shall take of the first of every fruit...and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the L-rd your G-d will choose to make His Name rest there." Normally the word for basket is sal but here it's called teneh. Every family would weave their own basket each year and load their first fruits into it for the journey to Jerusalem.
For months already, Teneya knew that she wanted a princess castle cake--pink, of course. It seems that for children, the frosting is the most important part. On Shavuot, I had the honor of staying up until 3 am with my wonderful new friend and came to the conclusion that the Torah is like a piece of cake.
Cake has everything you need (see my breakfast-cake post) but can use a little dressing up sometimes. Same with the Torah, but in this case the frosting is minhagim (customs). Some are passed down through the generations, others adopted for beauty or functionality. Frosting makes cake look pretty, but if you pile it too high then no one can see the cake anymore and it's too sweet to keep eating.
Kids don't really mind the extra sugar though. In fact, they're happy enough to lick it all off and move on to the next treat. But as we get older, we tend to care just as much, or even more, about what's underneath.
May we all merit to decorate our "cakes" beautifully, with just the right proportions, so that they will be enjoyed by all of our family and friends.