Give Your Best
In the times of the Holy Temple, a person who spoke badly about other people would get a bad skin disease. The Torah tells us what he would have to do to get cured. One of the things would be to bring the Kohanim, the Jewish priests, a gift to offer to God. But not everybody had to bring the same kind of gift. God knew that it would be harder for poor people to bring a big expensive gift. So he told them to bring just a small one and He would consider it as good as if it was a big one. We see from here that sometimes we expect different things from different people depending upon who they are and what they have to give.
In our story, two brothers learn about what really makes the grade.
'A' FOR EFFORT
Teddy and Simon were brothers, but you would never know it.
Teddy was a real "brain," an A student who was always near the top of his class, without even trying.
Simon was a nice kid. But even though he tried hard, his grades were usually nothing special, to say the least. On report card day the boys came running into the house with their report cards:
"Look Mom -- almost all A's ... as usual," said Teddy.
Simon shyly handed his mom his report card. While it wasn't nearly as good as his brother's, it was his best report card ever.
"You both did wonderful," their mother exclaimed. I'm going to call your father at work and tell him."
The boys ran outside to play. That evening when their dad came home he had two gift-wrapped boxes in his hand. He called over the boys.
When Teddy opened his gift he saw a new pen. When Simon opened his, he saw a new super-chrono watch.
"Congratulations on your special report cards," their Dad said, smiling.
Teddy started turning red. Finally he couldn't control himself and burst out, "It's not fair! Why should Simon get a better prize than me? I got a better report card than he did."
His parents frowned and called Teddy into the next room to speak to him.
"Teddy," his Dad said, "I can understand how you feel. But in a way, Simon's report card was even better than yours."
"What do you mean?" asked Teddy. "I got mostly A's and just a couple of B's. Simon got some B's and a lot of C's."
His father looked Teddy in the eyes. "You and Simon are different," he said. "God gave each of you different abilities. Because you're different, Mom and I expect different things from you. Simon spent more time, and worked a lot harder on his assignments than you did. He really made the most of his abilities, and that's what counts. Do you understand, Teddy?"
"I think so" he said. "If I used all of my abilities I would be able to do even better than I did -- I could get straight A's. Right?"
His parents smiled as Teddy turned to leave the room. "Where ya' headed?" asked his mom.
"I'm going upstairs to go do my homework, and this time give it all I've got."
Q. Why did Simon's father get him an extra-special prize?
A. Because his parents saw how hard he tried to do really well in school. They were proud of him for trying as hard as he could.
Q. How would you feel if you tried really hard to make something nice for your parents, and even though it didn't come out as nice as something your big brother or sister made for them, your parents really loved it?
A. I would feel good, since I tried so hard I'd be happy that my parents noticed and liked what I made.
Q. Why were the boys' parents more impressed with who tried harder rather than the end results?
A. Because only our effort is something we can control. Our "natural" abilities -- such as how smart we are -- are something we are born with. So the only real measure of a person's accomplishments is whether he works hard to make the most of his abilities.
Q. Who do you think appreciates what he has more: somebody who worked hard to earn it or somebody who got it without any effort? Why?
A. The one who worked hard. Because it feels good to really try hard and reach your goal or your potential.
Age 10 and Up
Q. If different people have different abilities and talents, can we say that "all people are created equal"?
A. All people are not the same in every way. Some are much stronger, richer or smarter than others. But we are all equal in that we all have the equal chance to make the most of ourselves, based upon the abilities and circumstances that we do have.
Q. Do you think it would be fair to let poor people pay less for things than rich people? Why or why not?