Take a Stand
Sometimes we have to take a stand. We see something wrong and we can't let it go. In our Torah portion we learn about Pinchas. He was the grandson of Aaron the High Priest. The Jewish people back then had made a big mistake and it was costing people their lives. The Midianites had convinced some Jews to go against the Torah. The Jews were acting very wrongly, but nobody was standing up to stop them. Pinchas decided that he couldn't just look on. He stood up for what was right, and because of him, many lives were saved. We learn from here that there are times that a person has to take action for what is right.
In our story, a girl stands up for what's right.
"Boy in the Middle"
It was a beautiful day, not too warm, not too cool. Just the kind of day Hadassah liked. She and her friend Leah were walking home from school, making plans for the afternoon, when Hadassah noticed something strange.
Down the block there was a group of kids gathered, yelling and laughing.
"What's going on over there?" Hadassah asked her friend.
"I don't know," answered Leah, "But I suggest we keep out of it."
As they got closer, Hadassah saw a group of boys surrounding a smaller boy in the middle. He looked very confused and upset. The boys surrounding him were all calling him names and pretending to hit and kick him.
Hadassah was shocked. "Who's that boy? Why are they doing that to him?" she asked one of the kids on the outside of the group.
"Oh, he's just the weird kid on the block," laughed the boy. "The guys are having a little fun, hah-hah."
Meanwhile the boy in the middle had started to cry, which only made the boys tease him harder.
"How can this go on?!" said Hadassah to her friend, starting to get angry. "Everyone's just standing around and watching and nobody's doing anything to help that poor boy!"
"Well, we certainly can't do anything about it," answered Leah.
But Hadassah couldn't hold herself back any longer. "If no one else will stop this, I will," she thought to herself.
Without a word, she pushed herself into the middle of the circle.
Suddenly everyone was quiet, shocked at seeing a girl standing there from out of nowhere. Hadassah took her chance and spoke up. She looked right at Chezky, the biggest boy there. She was friends with one of his sisters. "How can boys like you act this way?!" she shouted, trying not to show how scared she felt. "This boy didn't hurt anyone, and you're all treating him like this. Shame on you!"
There was silence. Everyone turned and looked at Chezky.
His head was down. "She's right," he said softly. "Leave the kid alone."
The boy in the middle picked himself up and ran away, flashing Hadassah a smile of gratitude.
The group slowly broke up and Hadassah and her friend went on their way.
"Wow are you brave!" said Leah admiringly.
"I'm not brave," answered Hadassah. "I just felt like I didn't have a choice."
Q. How did Hadassah feel when she saw the boy getting teased in the middle of the circle?
A. She felt bad for the boy, and angry that he was being hurt. She felt she had to do something to help him.
Q. If you saw that your friends were doing something their parents told them not to do, would you join them or try to make them stop?
Q. Do you think Hadassah was someone who was used to doing things like jumping into a circle of fighting boys?
Q. So what made Hadassah decide to stand up and get involved this time?
A. She saw something wrong was happening, and that nobody else was doing anything about it. She felt an obligation to step in where nobody else would.
Q. Why do you think the boys listened to Hadassah, even though they were really into teasing the boy?
A. They were surprised to see how brave she was to stand up for what was right. Inside, they probably knew that what there were doing was wrong, and Hadassah's courage woke them up and made them stop.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. The Talmud teaches us that in "a place where there is no leader, strive to be one." What do you think that means in a deeper sense?
A. There may be times when nobody else is doing what should be done, a person sometimes has to take a stand, even if he normally wouldn't consider himself as having courage to get involved. The situation calls for him to go beyond his usual limits. And many times going beyond our "limits" reveals them to be illusory.
Q. Do you believe that an individual has the "moral right" to get involved with other people's lives and speak up to them if he feels that they're doing something wrong?
A. Yes, if what they are doing is hurting themselves or anyone else, or if it will lead other people to follow their destructive example. We are all part of a society and we're responsible for each other. It's not enough to just turn our backs when somebody is doing something harmful.