For the Torah Portion in Israel, click here:
In this week's portion, we learn the proper way to react to other people's good fortune. Moses has been the leader of the Jewish people. Having received a special gift of spirituality from God, he was also their prophet. When Moses was informed that two people, Eldad, and Medad, had also recieved some of this prophetic spirit, instead of becoming angry or jealous, Moses was happy. He even wished that all the other people would become this spiritual too. The lesson here is to remember that success doesn't mean being better, or having more than the other guy, but rather learning how to feel happy about the good that comes everyone's way.
In our story, a couple of girls learn a lesson in how to be happy for others.
"CATCHING THE TUNE"
Ellen and Sue were walking up the pretty, tree-lined path that led from their bunk to Camp Hathaway's recreation room, when they heard the familiar strains of cheerful and well-played piano music wafting out from the large wooden building.
"Nancy's really amazing, isn't she?" commented Ellen.
"Yeah, her music has been one of the highlights of my summer," added Sue with a nod.
Nancy Jaeger had been a real hit at Camp Hathaway. Her winning smile and easy-going personality had made her popular among her peers. But the one thing that really stood out and made her a kind of camp celebrity was her unique musical talent. She took to the piano in the rec room like a duck takes to water, and soon her captivating musical performances had the whole camp clapping their hands and stamping their feet.
A few of the other kids could play piano, but nobody even came close to Nancy. The girl enjoyed the pleasure that she gave her friends, as well as the appreciation she received in turn.
"Let's go in and listen for a while, OK?" asked Sue, as she and her friend turned off the path to hear Nancy's latest concert. But when they got into the building, the sight that met their eyes left the two of them shocked and speechless. As usual, a large group of kids were gathered around the piano, listening to the great music, but sitting and playing the piano was someone other than Nancy!
"Hey, what's going on?" exclaimed Sue.
It seemed that Terry, a new girl who had just arrived at the camp that day for the second session, was just as big a musical star as Nancy. When Terry saw the piano, it was only natural for her to start playing, to the delight of all.
"But what about NANCY?!" cried Ellen. Once she finds out about her 'competition', she'll be crushed!"
The girls walked out, and started speculating how Nancy would react to this latest development. One thing they were sure of was that she would surely be plenty sad and mad. Who wouldn't be? It didn't take long to find out. For just then, a group of kids came walking by and Nancy was among them.
Ellen and Sue spotted their friend, and tried to stop her before she got too close to the music. But it was too late. They noticed Nancy stop in her tracks and quickly turn toward the rec room where Terry was playing.
They followed behind, afraid to say anything, but very curious to see what was going to happen. They saw Nancy step up to the building and peek into a side window. By now, the picture was clear. Would she cry? Would she scream? The girls looked on anxiously, to see what would happen.
What they saw, however, seemed beyond belief. Nancy wasn't crying, and she wasn't even pouting. She seemed to wearing a big smile, even laughing a bit as she snapped her fingers to the music! They ran over to her. "Hey Nancy, we're really sorry about this. Aren't you upset that this new kid just walked in and took your place?"
But Nancy was still smiling. "What do you mean? Sure it will take some getting used to, but the reason I play music is to make people feel good. If from now on I have a partner who's also doing the job, that's twice as good! Let's go inside so we can really enjoy the music!"
The three of them walked in, as Sue and Ellen realized that their friend Nancy was even much more beautiful a person than the music that she played.
Q. How did Sue and Ellen feel when they saw a new kid playing the piano instead of Nancy?
A. They felt that Nancy was going to be jealous, and feel bad when she found out.
Q. How did Nancy feel about it?
A. She felt good about the new girl playing, and for the enjoyment all the other kids were getting from it.
Q. Why did Nancy's friends think she was going to be so upset about the new girl playing music?
A. They realized that Nancy's musical talent was something unique about her, which she was proud of. They felt that now someone else had come along and 'stolen' that uniqueness, that Nancy would feel somehow diminished.
Q. How should we react when we hear good news about another person?
A. We should try to react like Nancy - to try to feel the happiness of others. We are all in it together, and if something good happens, no matter to whom, we can tap into the joy.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Whereas Nancy's friends referred to the new girl as her 'competitor,' Nancy herself called Terry her 'partner.' What basic difference in attitude do these two terms reveal?
A. A competitor is someone who is striving for the same goal as I am, and by definition, if he gets it, I lose out. Whereas a partner is someone who might have the same goal, but his reaching it is good for both of us. The fact that Nancy could view her situation in such a positive way brought a lot of light into her life.
Q. How does an attitude of trust in God affect our ability to feel happiness in other's good fortune?
A. A major component of trusting in God is the understanding that He is personally giving us exactly what we need at all times. What anyone else does or does not accomplish can't take anything away from us at all. Knowing this, we are free to share in another person's joys and accomplishments without a tinge of concern that it may be taking something away from us.