Our daughter Bassie turns ten just after the first of the Hebrew month of Elul. We were on the road all Thursday before Shabbat with little time to make a homemade cake, so we stopped at a Jewish bakery on our way back up to Albany to pickup a ready-made beautiful birthday cake.

OK, this background is important: There are various customs about cake lettering on Shabbat, our personal custom is not to cut written cake lettering on Shabbat which is why Raizy writes in icing over a plastic sheet or a piece of chocolate instead of on the cake itself.

We asked the girl behind the counter if she could write “Happy Birthday Bassie” on a piece of chocolate to go along with the cake we chose. She was cheerful and pleasant, and got a piece of chocolate and a cake-writing utensil. Then she noticed that the chocolate was chipped on one corner. She hesitated a moment, then got a knife and cut off the three other corners to match.

Why was this chocolate-trimming so memorable?

Because the girl behind the bakery counter had a visible physical handicap. It was hard for her to get around. But get around she did, industriously and capably – and most important: cheerfully! We realized that she did with her own life the same she had done with a piece of chocolate. She didn’t let a chipped corner hold her back. She made it work despite the challenges, and did so with elegance and grace.

We all have some form of handicap, whether physical or spiritual, mental or emotional. How to deal with Chipped-Chocolate is a lesson we can all use in our own lives.