Everyone Is Special
Sukkot is a beautiful holiday. There is a Mitzvah to eat and sleep under the stars in specially decorated thatched huts, and to wave a bundle of four special types of plants. Some of these plants are exotically fragrant or tasty, or both. But one of them - the plain willow branch - seems to have nothing going for it: no taste, not even a smell. Yet, if we leave it out of the bundle, the Mitzvah is considered incomplete.
One of the big lessons of Sukkot, is to realize that people are like this too. Although some people might not be as popular or talented as others, that's no reason to feel down. Rather we should know that each and every one of us is special, made especially by God to be who we are, as an important part of the world and part of God's plan.
In our story, a girl discovers what it really means to be special.
They called themselves The Fabulous Foursome. When they first met each other as little kids, Nancy, Debra, Amy and Sue became inseparable. They all lived on the same block, went to the same school, and even the same classes.
Even though many times kids who are friends when they're little drift apart as they get older, the 'foursome' seemed to stick it out through thick and thin. But during the last couple of years, it had been getting harder to keep together.
First of all, Debra and Amy, who were real brains, had transferred to a special school out of town that was just for extra-smart kids. And Nancy had moved out of the neighborhood and started to go to a very exclusive private school that her parents felt was well worth the huge tuition.
But Sue, a cheerful, friendly girl, whose grades were not quite up to those of Debra or Amy, and whose parents couldn't afford to send her to Amy's school, was left holding down the fort at their old school.
The girls didn't want to just let the Fabulous Foursome fade away, so they decided that they would at least get together once a year. They chose the Fall, at Sukkot time, as the best time to do it since they all had off from school, and the holiday atmosphere was perfect for happy reunions.
The first year, the girls got together in Amy's family's beautifully decorated Sukkah. Although Sue felt a bit out of place as the other three animatedly went on about their exciting new schools, just the fun of seeing old and dear friends made everything alright. Then and there, before they went home, the girls promised to get together again next year - 'same time, same place'.
But now another year had passed and Sue's mother found her sitting alone in their modest Sukkah on their back porch. Instead of her usual bright smile, the girl wore a frown that hardly reflected the natural joy of the holiday.
"Sue," said her mom, "aren't you and your old friends from school supposed to be meeting each other right about now?"
Sue shrugged as if she had forgotten about the whole thing. But she certainly remembered very well, and she would have remembered even if Amy hadn't called her to remind and invite her the week before. At the time, Sue had given her a kind of vague answer, murmuring under her breath that the others would probably be bored getting together with 'plain old her.' She had considered going, but then decided that she didn't have anything to add to the foursome, not Debra's or Nancy's brains, nor Amy's popularity and glamour. She figured that the others would surely be much happier to go on without her, as a threesome, and were only inviting her out of pity because they felt they had to.
Sue's mother went back to her holiday baking, as Sue went back to her gloom. A few minutes later, she heard a knock on the front door. "Some neighbor coming to wish her parents a happy holiday, no doubt," Sue thought to herself.
Then she heard what sounded like a lot of footsteps coming toward the Sukkah. She looked up and was amazed to see her friends, Amy, Debra, and Nancy all wearing big smiles and holding a big, beautifully decorated cake with the words 'FABULOUS 4 FOREVER' written in pink icing.
"How could the three of us sit alone in front of a cake like this?" quipped Amy.
Sue blushed. "But I thought you would never miss me. You guys are so special, in your special schools and everything, and I'm so ... plain."
By now Debra had started to cut the cake, not surprisingly made out of four layers. "Sue," Nancy explained, waving her finger in mock scolding, "you should know better than that. It's not where a person goes to school, what they have, or even what they know that makes a person special. Everyone is special, just because they are who they are. And you're a special and important part of us. You always have something nice to say about everyone, and just seeing your smile is enough to brighten a person's whole day. You're like the glue that keeps the four of us together, and sitting without you we felt like a table missing a leg. So what do you say, lets cut this out, and start cutting the cake, okay?"
Everyone laughed, and the foursome went on to spend beautiful Sukkots together for many years to come.
Q. How did Sue feel at first when her friends moved on to their special schools?
A. She felt like since there was nothing 'special' about her, the others wouldn't want to stay friends with her.
Q. How did her friends make her feel when they came to visit her with the cake?
A. They let her know that she really was special, and special to them, even though she didn't have what they had.
Q. Were Sue's friends really more special than she was? Why or why not?
A. It might seem like they were, after all, Nancy and Debra were extra smart, and Amy was wealthy enough to go to an exclusive school. But, these special talents, or possessions, as nice as they are, don't make a person who has them, any more special than anyone else. What makes a person special is that he is made by God, and put in the world as part of His plan. Each and every one of us has something special to add to the world.
Q. What are some things that can be special about a person that we wouldn't notice right away?
A. Any good character traits a person has are surely special. In Sue's case, it was her friendliness and warm smile. Other traits could include, kindness, sensitivity, courage, or a strong sense of values. There are many others - try to think of some.
Q. What makes you special?
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Can there be such a thing as someone who isn't special?
A. There are no 'extras' in God's cast of life. He created each one of us with our unique role to play, and without us, the world would be incomplete. Like pieces of a puzzle, some seem to obviously fit, and others you have to hunt around until you find where they fit in, but each piece is necessary to finish the picture.
Q. How can we discover where we fit in, and what is our special contribution to the world?
A. Although it isn't always so obvious, there is a pretty accurate way to figure it out. Generally an activity or subject that we feel especially drawn to, yet doesn't come easy, and when we try to do it we find obstacles in our way, is an indication that being involved in that thing in some positive, constructive way is likely to be one of the main reasons we're in the world.
Q. What makes you special?