This week's Torah portion begins by telling us exactly how much of gold, silver, and copper was used to make the beautiful vessels for the Tabernacle -- the special meeting place between G-d and the Jewish people. Everybody gave the money that was needed to Moses, and he was in charge of the whole project. Even though everyone trusted Moses and knew he was totally honest, Moses made sure to show the people exactly how every penny was spent and put to good use. This teaches us an important lesson: that we should always be extra careful and honest with other people's money and things.
In our story, a boy goes out of his way to be honest and is happy he did.
It was the day of the big class party.
To make it extra-special, all the kids had decided to chip in some money to get really good food and drinks. They gave this money to Howard, one of the boys in the class, to go and buy the food.
Howard went to the supermarket and filled the shopping cart with the tastiest cakes, yummy snacks and cold drinks he could find.
But when he got to the check out he saw a pack of baseball cards with his favorite pitcher on the front!
"I've gotta buy this," he thought as he threw the cards in his cart. But then he remembered that the only money he had was the cash the class had given him.
"This only costs a little bit, the kids will never notice," Howard thought.
But then, as he was about to pay, he changed his mind and said to himself, "I can't use this money for myself. The class trusted me, and I'm responsible to be honest and do right by them."
Howard waved his hand. "Just a minute please," he said to the cashier. He pulled the baseball cards out of his cart and put them back on the shelf.
"Now I'm ready to check-out" Howard said proudly.
Howard brought the party food back to the class. He felt great as all the kids dug into the delicious food and told him they were more sure than ever that they had chosen the right guy to go shopping.
Q. When Howard first saw the baseball cards, how did he feel?
A. He just wanted them, and he didn't care how he would get them even if he had to do something wrong, like using the class's money.
Q. After he thought about it, how did he feel differently?
A. He understood that it was wrong to use the money for himself since it wasn't his.
Q. Since the baseball cards cost so little, what was the big deal?
A. When it comes to being honest even a little thing is important, especially if you're responsible for other people's money.
Q. It's so important to be honest and careful not to misuse other people's money. Can you think of some ways we end up taking things that we shouldn't? Or ways that we misuse things?
A. If someone gives you money to buy something, you can make sure to give them back the exact change. You can be careful not to take home the school's supplies (unless we have permission). You can try extra hard to not leave lights on after you leave the room, etc.
Q. What do you think it means to be responsible?
A. It means earning people's trust and acting in the right way even when no one will know.
Q. What does it mean that "with power comes responsibility"? How does it apply to our Torah portion and story?
A. When people elect or choose someone to represent them, they often give him the power to do things he couldn't do on his own. It's up to him not to abuse this power and act in a responsible and trustworthy way.
In our Torah portion Moses had the money and the power to make the Tabernacle, but he was careful to show everyone how the money was spent. In our story Howard had the power of using all the class's money and he made sure to not even take a little bit for himself.