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Peace is a great thing. Nothing feels better than when two people get along peacefully with each other. And almost nothing feels worse than having a fight.
The teachings of the Torah help us live peacefully: "All its ways are pleasantness and all its paths are peace."
In this week's Torah portion God teaches Aaron, the High Priest, how to give a special blessing of peace to all the people.
Aaron would always go out of his way to do whatever he could to make peace between people, and we can learn from his example and try to bring more peace into the lives of our family and friends.
In our story a girl goes out on a limb to help make peace.
"GIVE PEACE A CHANCE"
Shira and Judy were best friends. Or were they worst enemies?
Up until a week ago everyone knew they were best friends. They would sit next to each other in school, and when the school-day was over, they would spend long afternoons playing together, or in marathon conversations on opposite ends of the phone.
But lately not only didn't they spend time together, they didn't talk to, or even look at each other!
They got into a fight one day when they wore the same dress to the class picnic and each girl accused the other one of copying her. And they never made up.
Their friend, Penina was really upset about it. "Is it right," she would ask, "that two wonderful friends should turn into enemies?"
Even though she was a little scared, Penina got up the courage and approached Shira. "I know it's not my business..." she began, "but how come you and Judy aren't friends anymore?"
At first Shira just shrugged her shoulders. But Penina went on. "You know Shira, I've noticed that Judy has just been looking so miserable since you two started fighting. I'm sure she feels bad about whatever happened and would love to make up with you."
Shira perked up her ears and said, "Do you really think so?"
"I know so," said Penina confidently. "Tell me, are you happier that you're not friends with her anymore?"
Shira thought a minute and said, "You know I'm miserable about it but what can I do? I'm not ready to make up unless she is too."
"I'll be right back," said Penina.
She rushed over to the other end of the playground, where she found Judy sitting alone and said, "Judy, I hope I'm not butting in, but wouldn't you be having a much better time if you were playing with your old pal, Shira?"
Judy looked at her and said, "She doesn't want to play with me."
Penina smiled and said, "If I could promise you she misses you so much that she can't wait to be friends again, would you come with me to talk to her?"
The two girls walked over to Shira.
"Shira," said Penina, "if Judy wanted to be your friend again would you want to be hers?"
"Yes," answered Shira.
"And what about you, Judy?" Penina asked.
"Of course!" Judy answered, with tears of joy. "I miss you so much, Shira. I'm sorry we ever got into this silly fight."
Shortly, the two old friends were hugging and laughing. They looked up at Penina, and Shira said, "We owe it all to you. Thanks for not minding your own business."
Q. How did the girls feel when Penina came to help them make up?
A. They were grateful that she went out of her way to help them.
Q. How does it feel to get into a fight with a friend? How about after you make up?
Q. If the two girls both wanted to make up, why didn't they do it by themselves? Why did they need Penina to get them to do it?
A. Sometimes, even when we want to do the right thing, it's just too hard to do on our own. Either we're afraid of what the other person will say, or we just don't know how to begin. When Penina stepped in and took on the role of peace-maker, she helped her friends to do what they really wanted to do.
Q. How can we help others to stop fighting and bring peace?
A. A lot of times simple misunderstandings can lead to fights. When this happens we can help the two people fighting to understand how the other one really didn't mean anything bad. In a case where two people want the same thing, we can help them to compromise. Etc.
Q. Have you ever gotten into a fight that you realized later was silly? What caused the fight?
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think it's better to get involved with other people's problems to help them, or to mind your own business?
A. When it's for a good cause, like creating peace, it's better to get involved and help others. Sometimes we can really improve other people's lives when we're ready to help them out even if they don't ask us to. If we just want to know what happened because we're curious and don't really want to help, then it's best not to get involved.
Q. The Torah teaches us to "pursue peace." What is the difference between being peaceful and pursuing peace?
A. To pursue peace means being willing to go out of the way to get along with others, even if they don't make the first move. Pursuing peace can also mean actively looking for ways to help others get along.