Families are important and we should be willing to go out of our way for ours. In this week's Torah portion (Lev. 21:2), we see how the Cohen-priests could do things to help their close relatives that they couldn't to do for anyone else. So too, when it comes to our family's needs, we should walk the extra mile.
In our story, a kid has to decide where his family fits in his life.
"What do you mean you're not coming?" Lisa asked with a hurt look in her eyes.
"Listen, do you know how lucky I am to have gotten a ticket to the championship game?" Andy said. "I've got friends who've already offered to buy it from me for three times the price. But I told them 'no way.' I'm not going to miss the game for nothing and for nobody."
"But I'm not 'nobody'," Lisa said. "I'm your sister - and I'm graduating tomorrow and it would mean so much to me for you to be there."
Andy shrugged. "Sister or no sister, I'm just not giving up the game. It's just too important to me."
Lisa wrinkled her face and stormed upstairs from the living room, just as their mother walked in from the front door.
"Hi Mom," Andy said. "What's for lunch?"
"Oh, lunch time already?" she smiled. "I'll heat up something from the freezer. Sorry about that. I've just been so busy shopping for Lisa's graduation that I've lost track of time."
Andy rolled his eyes. "Is it really such a big deal?"
"Of course it is," his mother said. "Any graduation is. But especially for Lisa. She worked so hard, and is graduating with the second best grades in her whole class. She would have been the best ... except for that time she missed from school last year."
"Which time?" Andy asked.
"Don't you remember? When you were in the hospital. It was hard for you to be alone and I was so busy at work. So Lisa got permission to take those days off from school and stay with you."
Andy nodded as his mother went on.
"It was right before her mid-term tests and she missed a lot of important review classes that would have helped her get better grades."
"Really?" Andy said. "I didn't know that."
"Uh, huh. I was actually surprised that she did it - it couldn't have been an easy choice," his mom said. "As you know, doing well in school is so important to her - unlike someone else we both know." Andy blushed. "I didn't even ask her to take the time off," his mother added, shaking her head. "She volunteered and just said 'family comes first.' Anyway, what would you like me to make you for lunch - frozen pizza or ... hey, where are you going?" she asked, as Andy turned and headed toward the door.
"Oh, um ... I've just got this ticket I have to go sell to my friend," Andy said. "Be back soon. By the way, do you happen to know where my good suit is ... you know, to wear to the graduation?"
As Andy walked out the door, he realized that while he wasn't much of a student, like his sister was - he'd just learned a big lesson from her on what's really important in life.
Q. How did Andy feel at first about going to his sister's graduation?
A. He wasn't willing to give up going to a ballgame to do it.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized that it was important to do things for his family - even when it was hard.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Andy learned that day?
A. Like all of us, he had his personal priorities - what was important to him - -like going to a big sports event. But he realized, after hearing how his sister gave up one of her personal priorities in order to do something for the family, that being part of a family sometimes meant putting its needs even before one's own.
Q. Do you think Andy made a good choice?
A. While it certainly wasn't an easy one, by choosing to put his family first, not only did Andy improve his character, but he helped make his family stronger, and more secure, which is something valuable that lasts a lifetime.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think that family members are entitled to more priority than others? Why or why not?
A. While we should treat everyone well, we should treat our family especially well, and their needs should take precedence over those of others. It is not 'random' that we are part of a family. God has put us together as a support system, that if used properly can make every family member a stronger individual.
Q. Does a person with family commitments lose out on his or her personal freedom?
A. Although it's true that being attached and committed to others means we may sometimes have to give up our own private wants, this isn't a negative thing. A person who lives only for himself can quickly grow selfish and never experience the deep spiritual growth that only giving imparts.