Family Parsha Parshat Beshalach: Being Optimistic
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Beshalach(Exodus 13:17-17:16)

Being Optimistic


OVERVIEW

Every situation contains within it a possibility of success - and a possibility of failure. When the Jewish people were in the desert, fleeing from the pursuing Egyptian army, nobody knew how it was going to turn out. Many were scared that the end was near, and were preparing for the worst. But, in the end, God made a great miracle by splitting the Red Sea, and saved them.

The grateful people burst out in jubilant songs and praise for God's kindness. While the men only sang, Moses' sister Miriam, along with the other women, played musical instruments to accompany themselves. Where did the women ever find instruments in the middle of the desert? It turns out that they had trusted from the very beginning that God was going to save them. So much so that they had taken instruments with them, so they could celebrate when it happened!

God wants us to learn from these great women, to trust Him by being optimistic and focusing on positive outcomes. Not only does this help us to live happier lives, but quite often it even helps open us up to let the good things happen.

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STORY

In our story, a boy uses his trust and optimism to get through a tough situation.

"UP-LIFT"

      "Man, how long does it take you to pack that thing up?" teased Greg, as his friend Seth finished tucking all the pieces of his tuba back into its case.

      The guys had stayed after school for band practice, and found themselves the last ones out as the rest of the kids had already bolted out the door to begin the upcoming three-day weekend. Seth laughed, and said, "Easy for you to say. You just play that small piccolo that practically fits in your pocket. There, I'm finished. Let's head for the elevator, and we're outta here."

      The boys grabbed their gear and squeezed their way into the small elevator at the end of the hall. Seth pushed the button, and they started going down. But just a few seconds later, they came to an abrupt stop.

      "Hey, very funny. Start it up again," said Greg.

      But Seth only shrugged. "I didn't do anything. The elevator just stopped on its own."

      Greg saw that his friend was serious, and started to panic. He frantically pushed all the buttons, and began kicking the door.

      "Hey, calm down," said Seth. "It's gonna be okay."

      But Greg wasn't convinced. "What do you mean okay? We're the only ones left in this building, and nobody's coming for three days! Even our parents think we left already. They'll never find us until..."

      By now Greg's face was turning red and his eyes beginning to tear. The guys kept pushing buttons and banging on the door, but to no avail.

      Time passed. Greg looked over to Seth, who unlike himself seemed calm, and almost serene. "Aren't you worried what's gonna happen?" he asked.

      Seth looked up. "Look, I won't tell you that I'm not concerned. But I just know deep down that it's gonna be alright. God is taking care of us and He won't let us down. I don't know how or what, but I really feel like we're going to be okay."

      Seth's optimism helped Greg to calm down and the boys started to think of solutions.

      Suddenly Seth's eyes lit up, and he started to unpack his tuba case. Greg looked at him, amazed. "Is this really the time to start jamming?" he asked.

      Seth shook his head. "Don't you get it? This thing makes enough noise to wake the dead. Maybe if I play a few 'sour' notes, someone will hear us from the street."

      Greg was pessimistic, but he had to admit that it was at least worth a try.

      Seth blew and blew. The noise itself seemed loud enough to burst open the elevator door. The boys waited, and hoped.

      After a few long moments with no response, Greg started to panic again, "That's it, we're finished."

      But Seth remained his hopeful self. "Don't give up so fast. We did our part, let's sit back and wait for God to do His."

      Suddenly the boys heard a banging sound. They immediately started kicking on the door and yelling for help. They heard voices, and felt the elevator beginning to move! The door soon opened. It was Mr. Edwards, their band leader, together with the school custodian.

      "I was walking back to get some papers I had left behind, when I heard your little 'concert'. I put two and two together, and I called up John here, who was able to jump-start the elevator and get you out. Are you two alright?"

      The boys just stared back in wonder and gratitude. Greg turned to Seth, and shook his head. "You were right. It's so clear that while we were playing the music, it was God who was really calling the tune."

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QUESTIONS

Ages 3-5

Q. How did Greg feel when the elevator got stuck?
A. He got scared, and was afraid they wouldn't get out.

Q. How did Seth feel?
A. He stayed calm, because he trusted that God would help them. His feelings of trust helped him stay optimistic, and not lose his cool.


Ages 6-9

Q. When the two boys got stuck in an elevator, Greg panicked and despaired, while Seth remained calm, optimistic, and resourceful. Why do you think Seth was able to handle the situation so much better than his friend did?
A. Seth had a basic attitude about life that really helped him through the trying situation. He realized that a person isn't alone in the world; rather God is always by his side, looking out for him. He trusted that whatever situation he found himself in - even being stuck in an elevator in an empty building - didn't change that fact. This knowledge is tremendously empowering, and someone who has it can get through virtually anything.

Q. Do you think that Seth's optimism in any way helped the situation turn out as it did?
A. A person with an optimistic outlook is activated. He feels calm, energetic, and open to seeing and maximizing all opportunities that arise. In our story, Seth's optimism put him in the state he needed, to think of and implement his tuba-playing idea, that got him and his friend rescued.

Q. Can you think of a time God helped you out?


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Is it more realistic to be optimistic or pessimistic? Why?
A. When we realize that God loves us and cares for us, it makes more sense to be optimistic and learn to trust the Almighty. It's also brings about a more effective response. In many ways, how we view a situation has a lot to do with how we react to it, and how it ultimately turns out. Greg's pessimism made him want to give up. If they had followed his lead, instead of Seth's dynamic optimism, the boys would have been much less likely to be rescued. But aside from this, true awareness of God's love for us, and desire that we succeed, gives us every good, realistic reason to remain optimistic, no matter what the situation.

Q. Does trust in God mean that we always expect that He will make things turn out the way we want?
A. No. Trust in God means just that we trust that He will do what's ultimately best for us. We realize that our knowledge is limited, compared to His. A person should try to decide for himself what he wants, and do what we can to make it happen. But if things don't work out that way, he should trust that God is telling him that it is really better that way.

Q. It's easier to trust in God when we appreciate all the good He has done for us already. Can you think of a time when God helped you out and showed His love for you?


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Published: January 11, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Lindsay Harris, January 27, 2003 12:00 AM

Hi, im 12 years old and my class and i love using your family torah portions. Please keep uo the good work

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