Patch Things Up
Just because we had a quarrel or fight with someone doesn't mean we can't make up. In this week's Torah portion, Joseph and his brothers reconcile and patch things up after many years. We can learn from them that even if we have a fight, there's always a chance to put things right.
In our story, a couple of kids find out that a fight doesn't have to last forever.
BENT OUT OF SHAPE
Greg looked at the practically brand new football on his closet shelf and sighed. It was a real beauty. Hundred percent genuine cowhide, aerodynamically balanced, official NFL size and weight. There was only one problem with this football ... it wasn't his.
He and his neighbor and best friend, Jay, had been having fun tossing and kicking the ball, which Jay had just gotten as a present, in Greg's back yard. But the fun had turned to fire, when Jay kicked the ball straight into the spokes of the rear wheel of Greg's bike, bending them out of shape. Greg got mad and told Jay that he should pay for a new wheel.
When Jay said 'No way!' Greg grabbed the football and said he was keeping it as 'payment.' Jay tried to grab it back, but then when Greg tossed it into the open window of his locked garage, Jay turned red as a fire-truck and stormed off - but not before grabbing one of Greg's pro-quality walkie-talkies and taking it with him.
Greg checked out the damage to his bike wheel, which really wasn't as bad as he'd thought. He fixed it in a second. His bike didn't break, but his friendship did. This all happened two and a half days ago and neither kid has said a word to each other since.
Greg looked out the window. It was getting dark outside - almost as dark as the way he felt having lost his best friend. Part of him wanted to call Jay and say he was sorry, but that just seemed too hard to do. Greg looked again at the football. Maybe...
He walked under the stars to the hole in the fence between his and Jay's house. When they used to be friends, the boys would use it as their secret passage to visit each other. He was about to roll the football though the hole when he heard a noise like footsteps. Feeling a little scared, Greg quickly pushed the ball he was going to return into the hole, when his hand bumped into something hard.
"Whoa!" he yelped.
"Hey!" he heard a voice on the other side of the fence.
Greg jumped up and saw it was Jay, standing straight across from him ... and holding his walkie-talkie!
"Um, I was just about to, you know ... give it back," Jay mumbled.
"Yeah, me too," Greg answered with a smile, handing Jay the football and taking the walkie-talkie in return.
Jay slipped through the fence and gave Greg a big, friendly slap on the back - just like they used to.
"Friends again?" he asked.
"You bet!" Greg answered. "My dad said he wanted to patch up this hole in the fence, but I'm glad he didn't."
"Me too," Jay grinned, "because it gave us a chance to patch things up between us instead!"
Q. How did Greg feel at first when he took the football?
A. He felt angry and didn't care that he was getting into a fight.
Q. How did he feel when he gave it back?
A. He was happy that he'd tried to patch things up - and that his friend had done so, too.
Q. What life lesson do you think Greg could learn from what happened?
A. Sometimes we can lose our cool and get into a quarrel or fight with someone we like, but we always have the choice to backtrack and try to put things right.
Q. Why do you think it's sometimes hard to say we're sorry to, or make up with, someone we've got into an argument with - even if we want to?
A. We may feel embarrassed about how we acted and not want to own up to our behavior, or we might feel afraid the other person won't want to make up. But we'll gain a lot and almost always end up happier if we try to make up anyway.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Our sages teach that it's a positive quality to 'pursue peace.' What do you think that means?
A. It means not just waiting around for the 'other side' with whom we've had a quarrel to come forward to patch things up, but to take the initiative ourselves to patch things up.
Q. Is it ever 'too late' to reconcile with someone?
A. As time passes after a quarrel and things remain unresolved, we can begin to feel 'stuck' in the situation and as if it's too late to put things right. But we should know that no matter how far things have gone and how much time had passed, it's always possible - and worth our while - to reconcile.