In this week's Torah portion, God tells Moses to tell the Jewish people to build the tabernacle. The tabernacle was like the world's first synagogue. It was beautiful -- filled with special vessels of silver and gold, amazing tapestries, precious stones and fragrant spices. Even more special was the Holy Ark, which contained the actual tablets of the Ten Commandments that Moses had received from God. Anybody who went into the tabernacle felt that God was right there with him.
To get all the gold and other precious material needed to build the tabernacle, Moses appointed certain people to go around amongst the Israelites and collect from "anyone who really wanted to give." He told them not to force anybody to contribute. But the Jewish people's hearts were open and generous and they gave even more than what was needed.
From this week's Torah portion we learn how good it is to be generous and giving. In our story a girl opens her heart to help a friend in need.
Jenny's class had gone on a great field trip. They went to the beautiful Teva National forest, far from the city.
Jenny was having an amazing time, until lunch that is. As all the kids sat down to eat by a waterfall, Jenny opened up her knapsack and discovered that she had forgotten to pack her lunch!
"Oh no," she gasped. "I don't have anything to eat!"
Some of the kids nearby noticed what was going on. Soon a girl named Gail was taking up a "collection." Somebody gave a half a sandwich. Somebody else a bag of chips. One girl even gave a cupcake.
A few minutes later Gail came over to Jenny, who was sitting by herself on a rock, looking pretty down. Gail tapped her on the shoulder.
Jenny looked up with surprise, her eyes wet with tears.
"Uh, Jenny," said Gail, "Some of the girls had some 'extra' food for you. We know you forgot your lunch." She handed Jenny a huge bag full of enough food for three lunches.
Jenny was amazed. She stopped smiling only long enough to eat, because by then she was pretty hungry. It was a field trip Jenny would never forget.
Q. How did Jenny feel when she forgot her lunch?
A. Sad. She thought she wouldn't be able to eat. She felt all alone.
Q. How did she feel when her friends shared their food with her?
A. She felt great that her friends helped her out (even though she didn't ask them).
Q. What was so special about the kids collecting food for Jenny?
A. They saw somebody needed help and wanted to give, even though Jenny didn't ask for help. They didn't wait for Jenny to have to ask.
Q. What are some ways we can be generous to people around us?
A. We can put aside some of our allowance for the needy. We can share our toys, etc.
Age 10 and Up
Q. When we see that someone else needs help, when should we "just mind our own business" and when should we "get involved" and try to help?
A. We should really try to get involved and help if we can, as long as we're not putting ourselves in danger. The world becomes a better place when we all try to help each other out.
Q. What does it mean: "the giver really receives"? Do you agree?
A. When we are generous and give to those in need, we get a good feeling about ourselves and about others. This feeling often gives us even more pleasure than the things that we give away.