Chayei Sarah(Genesis 23:1-25:18)
The Rewards of Giving
One of life's most important lessons is that the secret of happiness and getting the good things we want out of life is not by taking - but by giving. In this week's portion, our matriarch Rebecca faced a choice - she was approached by a man who asked her to do him the favor of bringing him some water from the well. It wasn't an easy job, and no one would have blamed her if she had refused. But she chose to put herself out and give water not only to the man, but to all of his thirsty camels as well. Just imagine all the effort that took!
Her choice to give ended up getting her the chance to marry the righteous and wealthy Isaac and go down in history as matriarch of the Jewish people. Only by training ourselves to be givers will we begin to 'take' the happiness and sweetness we all want out of life.
In our story, a girl discovers that giving really gets.
"FLYING FIRST CLASS"
Karen Hartman looked down at the clouds below her. While this wasn't the first time she had been on a plane, this was the first time she had flown alone, and she felt sky high. After all, she was on her way to the biggest interview of her life. She had applied for a special student leadership program. Only five kids were going to be accepted out of the hundreds who applied and she and had been selected as one of the final candidates. Now she was on her way to Washington to be interviewed with the program's director, a member of Congress (!), who would decide whether she going to be one the lucky few.
Karen sat nervously in her seat, as she practiced over and over again what she was going to say at the interview to show that she was just the kind of person that they wanted. Luckily, the plane wasn't crowded and she got her own seat where she could stretch out and prepare for the big day ahead.
Suddenly she felt a tap on her shoulder. Was it the stewardess with lunch already?
Karen looked up to see an older woman wearing a funny looking hat. This was no stewardess!
"I'm sorry to bother you, young lady," she said, "but where I'm sitting, the sun is bothering me. Could I possibly sit down next to you?"
Karen couldn't believe it. She had just gotten comfortable and now an old lady wanted to pile in next to her? She was about to tell her no way, when she thought, "Why not do her a favor? It's a short flight anyway, and I'm so busy practicing my interview... I probably won't even notice she's here."
Managing a smile, she invited the lady to sit down and went back to her practicing. A moment later her thoughts were interrupted by a singsong voice. Her new seatmate seemed to want to talk. And talk she did - about her children, the weather, everything under the sun.
Karen tried to listen politely to the obviously lonely stranger.
The plane landed and Karen hoped that she would now have a chance to prepare for her big interview. But as she left the airport, the woman seemed to be following her! She walked out the same exit and in the same direction as Karen, still chatting non-stop.
Karen figured that maybe the lady was scared to be alone in a strange city, although she seemed to know where she was going. The girl decided to help her out with her luggage, and walked patiently at her slow pace. She assumed they would each go their separate ways, but was surprised when the woman said she was going to the same part of town, and wanted to share a taxi. Even though Karen had hoped for at least that time alone, she readily agreed.
They got into the cab and discovered they were both going to the Congressional building. The lady apparently had some business there too. As they went inside the big glass and marble building, Karen, who wanted to at least wash up before her big interview, wished the lady a pleasant day, who in turn thanked her profusely for all her help.
Karen was all jitters as she approached the tall door of Congresswoman Starbuck's office. She had been so busy with the old lady on the plane, she felt like she hadn't properly prepared for the interview that meant so much to her. Oh well, it was too late now.
She stepped in to the impressive outer office, where a stern looking secretary gave her the once over. Karen finally convinced her that she really did have an appointment with the busy congresswoman and at last was let through the door to the inner office.
As she walked in, Karen couldn't believe what she saw. The only one sitting in the office was the old lady from the plane! Where was the congresswoman? What was happening!?
Could it ... could she be...?? Before Karen could get her wits about her, the congresswoman greeted her warmly and invited her to sit down. It was the shortest interview ever, as her new friend assured Karen that she had seen quite enough on the plane ride to know that she was the perfect candidate for the program - an unselfish, giving person with true leadership potential.
Karen left the office higher than the clouds she had just flown over. She knew that her decision to give had gotten her the prize of a lifetime!
Q. How did Karen feel when the older woman first wanted to sit down next to her?
A. She felt like she would lose out by letting her sit down.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt glad she had done so much to help the lady, and that by giving to someone else, she really gave to herself.
Q. Why is giving really getting?
A. Even if we don't see the benefit of our giving as fast as Karen did, we should know that every time we give, we are growing, and fulfilling our purpose in life by acting in a Godly way. God responds to this by sending good things into our lives that sooner or later we will realize.
Q. What do you think would have happened to Karen if she had chosen to be selfish instead of giving?
A. Most likely it would have cost her the opportunity to get into the leadership program. The Congresswoman would have gotten a negative impression of her, and felt that she didn't qualify.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. From the story, we saw that giving is really receiving. Can receiving ever be giving?
A. The greatest, most Godly thing that a person can do is give. When we are on the receiving end, we are actually 'giving' someone the chance to give. Besides this, we can also give the giver a good feeling by expressing our gratitude, and letting him know how much he has helped us. We can also pray for the well being of those who give to us, and try to find ways to give them something in return.
Q. Is there a difference between something given grudgingly, and something given with a full heart?
A. There is a world of difference. While the physical action, or gift might be the same, our intentions and attitudes when we give, often do as much or more to help the one to whom we are giving. We should try to teach ourselves not only to do acts of kindness, but to love doing them.