Singing a Different Tune
Not everybody is the same. Some people are more interested in one thing and some in something else. God made each of us special with something unique to contribute to society. In our Torah portion God tells Moses to count the people by making a census. He says to be sure to count the people according to their individual tribes and families, and not just lump everyone together. This teaches us the important lesson of the uniqueness of each group within the whole, and how everyone has something special to offer. God doesn't want or expect everyone to be the same.
In our story a boy learns the lesson that it's okay to be who he is.
A Different Drum
Lance came from a family of football stars. He was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom had been football stars. They all expected him to follow in their footsteps.
But Lance was different. He just never really loved football the way his brothers did. What he did love was music. When his brothers were out of the house, and he knew they wouldn't tease him, Lance used to sneak up to the attic in his house, and spend hours practicing on an old flute that he had found up there in a dusty corner. He kept it up all summer.
But now school was starting again and Lance was old enough this year to try out for the football team. And, of course, all his family assumed he would. But Lance sure wasn't looking forward to it. He felt even worse when, the day before tryouts, his dad came home with a big package and said, "Well son, I always bought your brothers their football equipment, so I guess I owe you too."
Lance cringed. How was he going to explain to his Dad he didn't want any football equipment. That he didn't even want to play football!
Just when he thought he would burst, his dad unwrapped the package and took out a brand new ... flute!
"Dad, you got me a flute?" gasped Lance.
His father smiled and put his hand on the boy's shoulder and said, "Listen Lance, I know you love playing your mom's old flute more than playing football. And you're good, too. I want you to succeed at what you love. It's okay that you're different from your brothers. Everyone was created differently and you owe it to yourself to be who you are and not just who everyone things you should be."
"Thanks Dad!" cried Lance.
His dad handed him the new flute and said, "Son, just keep being yourself and you'll always be a star in my book."
Q. How did Lance feel when he thought his family wanted him to play football?
A. He was uncomfortable because deep down he knew that football wasn't for him.
Q. How about when his father got him the flute?
A. He was very happy, because he saw that his Dad loved him for who he was and didn't expect him to be something different.
Q. Do you think if Lance decided to play football in order to please his family, he would be happy? What if he became a star?
A. He most likely wouldn't be happy since it wasn't what he felt he was cut out to do. Even if he was successful, it wouldn't change his feeling.
Q. In what ways do you think you are similar to your friends? In what ways do you think you are different?
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Imagine if everyone in the world would be exactly the same. How would the world be better? Worse?
A. If every person were the same, nobody would have anything new to share with anybody else. It might even get a little boring since everybody would always have the same tastes and opinions. It's the uniqueness of each person that makes the world so interesting.
Q. The Sages quoted in the "Ethics of the Fathers" say that a wise person learns from everyone. Do you think everyone has something to teach? Why? A. Since each of us is different, we all have certain knowledge or experience that no one else does. A wise person will try to appreciate everyone's differences and see what he can learn from them.