Easy ... Does It!
It's nice to be with someone who's easy to get along with. This week's Torah portion is about Noah. His name, in Hebrew, means pleasant and easy-going. When we make the effort to get along pleasantly with people, we'll have more friends and a friendlier, happier life.
In our story, a kid discovers that acting pleasantly can bring pleasant surprises.
"I hate this place!" Tommy scowled as he slammed the door behind him.
"Hey, was that a tornado that just burst in ... oh, it's just you," his sister, Judy, said with a sly smile. "Why are you so burnt up, anyway?"
"Who wouldn't be?" Tommy said with a frown. "I've been in this dumb new school in this dumb new town for almost a whole week and not even one kid wants to be my friend. Even the couple of kids who started talking with me before, now don't even..."
Tommy's outburst was cut short by the ring of the telephone. The boy picked it up:
"Hello?... Yeah, that's me - who's this?... Yeah, I guess I know who you are - what do you want?... What, you gotta go? Okay, bye."
"See what I mean?" Tommy asked Judy, who was flashing him a puzzled look as he clicked off the phone. "Some kid from my class just called me and then he just hung up!"
"Well, I don't blame him." Judy said to her brother's surprise.
"After the unpleasant way you spoke to him, why shouldn't he hang up?" she explained.
"Unpleasant? I just spoke the way I always do," Tommy protested.
"Exactly," Judy grinned and shook her head.
"What do you mean by that?" Tommy scowled.
"Think about it. Anyway, I've got to go," she said, slinging her carry bag over her shoulder. "I've got a play date with some nice new friends I made in school - by acting nice to them and not mean." She waltzed out the door, leaving Tommy confused, miffed and lonelier than ever.
The bored boy plopped down onto the sofa and began reading his latest comic book that he'd read a dozen times already, when he heard a knock at the back door.
He threw down his comic book, stomped to the door and opened it.
"Yeah? What do you want?" he scowled, looking at a kid about his size, who had an annoyed, angry look on his face. Then he looked again. It was him! But...how...?
Then Tommy broke into a wide smile. Since their house was new and he hadn't been paying attention, he'd opened up closet door by mistake and he'd seen his own image in the mirror behind it!
He heard more knocking - at the real back door.
As Tommy walked over to get it, Judy's words began to sink in. After all, he sure did look pretty mean and unpleasant when he saw himself in the mirror - no wonder no one wanted to be his friend. And he sure did look a lot nicer and friendlier after he'd smiled...
Keeping that smile on his face, Tommy opened the door.
"Oh, hi. How are you?" he asked pleasantly to the kid on the other side, who he thought he recognized from school.
The kid smiled back. "A few of us are having a pick-up soccer game in the park down the block - wanna join us?"
"Sure!" Tommy smiled, glad his 'look in the mirror' had taught him how to make friends - and not break them.
Q. How did Tommy feel when his sister first told him he should act nicer if he wanted to make friends?
A. He didn't think it made any difference.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized that acting nice instead of mean made a big difference.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Tommy learned that day?
A. He'd been unaware that his unpleasant demeanor and way of speaking was putting people off and making it hard for him to make friends. But, after seeing himself in the mirror, he understood that acting pleasantly was just what he needed to do.
Q. Why do you think it's easier to make friends when we act pleasantly?
A. Simply put - a pleasant person is much nicer to be around, so obviously he will attract more friends than someone who isn't.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think someone who is not naturally easy-going and pleasant can change his way of being?
A. While it will be more of a challenge than to someone to whom it comes naturally, still, God gives us the ability - with hard work and dedication - to improve this and all character traits.
Q. Why do you think that Tommy's peek in the mirror had more of an effect on him than his sister's earlier words?
A. Often, we can be unaware of our true character. While Tommy was able to shrug off and deny his sister's accurate evaluation - he couldn't deny what he saw with his own eyes.