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Ha'azinu(Deuteronomy 32)

Keep Your Word


A person's word is more valuable than gold. But it's tempting at times to go back on what we've promised. This week's Torah portion teaches us what a great thing it is to be reliable and keep our word. God is described as the "faithful God." He always keeps to His word and we can totally rely on Him. God is an unchanging "Rock" of stability who fulfills everything He says, even if it takes time before we are able to see it. The Torah teaches us that we should try to be like this too and become somebody the people around us can count on.

 


In our story a girl keeps her word and shows what it means to be a friend.

"BEAT THE CLOCK"

"Rachel, what are you doing this afternoon?" asked a girl in large wire-rimmed glasses.

"Not really anything Leah I guess," answered Rachel offhandedly.

"Well, um, would you mind if we got together to do homework this afternoon? You see, I'm a little behind in math, and, um ... I could really use some help."

Rachel shrugged her shoulders. She wasn't really looking forward to spending the afternoon doing homework with Leah, but why not? Nothing else was going on. "OK," she finally said. "I can meet you at the Hudson Library at 3:00 if you want."

Leah's face lit up. "Gee thanks so much! I can't wait. 3:00 it is!" And with that she grabbed her book bag and rushed down the corridor of their school building.

Rachel got home to find a note on the door to her room. "Carmella called," it said.

"Carmella?!" thought Rachel, surprised to see the name of an old friend who had moved away a few months ago. Quickly she dialed the local phone number scribbled on the bottom of the note.

"Hello?" answered Carmella's familiar voice.

"Carmi, is that you? What's up? Where are you?" Rachel felt excited just hearing her friend's voice.

"Guess what?" said Carmella. "I'm in town! My mom was flying in for her monthly business meeting and I got to tag along. But we're only here for a few more hours. I'm staying at the Sunset Hotel downtown. I called to invite you to join us for lunch. We have so much to catch up on. Whatdya say, Rachel?"

"What do I say?" answered the thrilled girl. "It's a dream come true!"

Just then Rachel glanced down at her book bag. "Oh no!" she groaned, remembering her promise to Leah. She looked at her watch. It was 2:30. "Um ... Carmi, let me call you right back, okay?"

"Okay," responded the surprised girl. "Is everything all right? I really hope we can get together," she added.

"Me too!" said Rachel, sounding a little panicked as she hung up the phone. She quickly dialed Leah's number.

"Maybe I can reach her to cancel before she leaves for the library," Rachel thought. But to her chagrin, Leah's mother told her that Leah had just gotten on the bus and was on her way. Rachel looked up the phone number of the library to leave Leah a message.

No luck. Her heart sank when a recording came on the line that the library's phone was temporarily out of order. "Now what do I do?" thought Rachel. "Leah's going to be waiting for me, I've tried everything to reach her, and there's no time to get to the library, tell her, and get to the hotel way across town in time. But I guess Leah will just have to understand. After all how often do I get a chance to see Carmella?"

She started to dial up Carmella to tell her she'd come. But then Rachel had a second thought. "But I promised Leah I'd meet her. She'll be sitting there just waiting for me. And even if I could reach her and let her know I can't make it, she's counting on me to come. How can I just not show up?"

Hesitantly, Rachel dialed her friend in the hotel. "Carmi, I'd love to see you but I just can't ... I gave my word."

She explained the whole story.

"Rachel I'll miss you terribly," said Carmella. "But I respect you for what you're doing. That's just the kind of thing that makes me want us to stay friends. Hopefully it will work out next month."

The girls enjoyed a quick chat, and Rachel grabbed her books, and headed for the library, content that she had chosen to do what was right.

 


Ages 3-5

Q. How would you feel if somebody was supposed to come to your house to play with you but in the end he never came?

Q. Is it okay to promise somebody something and then change your mind and not keep your word just because you don't feel like it? Why or why not?
A. It's not okay, because it's important to be reliable and keep all promises whenever possible.

Ages 6-9

Q. Do you think Rachel did the right thing by not going to see Carmella?

Q. Would you say that it's a good idea to promise things that we don't intend to keep and to tell people what they want to hear, or is it preferable to only say the truth even if the other person doesn't like it?
A. We may think that we're making somebody happy by telling them what they want to hear, but in the end they will likely feel worse when we don't come through than if we never committed ourselves in the first place. Of course, we should attempt to be agreeable with others when we truly can. But when people realize that we say what we mean, and mean what we say, they will come to respect us.

Q. Do you think it would have been okay for Rachel to phone Leah at the library to tell her that she has to cancel?

Q. What are some ways that you can practice being reliable in your daily lives?
A. You can be careful to keep appointments and to come on time. You should hand in your school assignments when they are due. At home you can act reliably by doing your chores regularly without having to be reminded too many times.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Why is it important to be a reliable friend?
A. People feel calm and secure with a reliable friend because they know he can be trusted. Even if on occasion the person doesn't come through, others don't get upset since they know it must be for a good reason.

Q. How do people react to someone who has shown himself to be unreliable?
A. People feel nervous around him. They never know what to expect. He's always under suspicion. Even if others act friendly toward him they are unlikely to take the friendship very seriously or have very much respect for him.

Q. Which type of friendship would you value more, one based on excitement and spontaneity or one based on reliability and trust, even if it isn't as exciting? Why?
A. The second type because, while we may feel attracted to friends who seem to be "living for the moment" and who change their minds easily, these types of friendships tend to fade. It is only when we know we can trust a friend does the friendship grow deeper. Life always has its ups and downs, and it's the stable faithful friendship that will carry us through them all.

Q. What other traits do you think are important to have in a friend?

 

Published: September 23, 2000

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Cyndi Hopper, October 7, 2000 12:00 AM

Good teaching

This is a very good story to teach an important value; I enjoyed this very much, thank you

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