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Vayeshev(Genesis 37-40)

Making Others Jealous

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OVERVIEW

Is it ever possible to treat someone too nicely? If the treatment will make others jealous, it just might be. In our portion this week, we learn about how Jacob felt especially close to one of his sons, Joseph. Jacob gave him special gifts, and showed him more attention than any of his brothers. The brothers grew jealous of Joseph and eventually they came to harm him. We see from here the damage that jealousy can cause and how careful we should be not to treat people in a way that will make others jealous.

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STORY

In our story, a girl finds out there is such a thing as being too nice.

"THANKS BUT NO THANKS"

      It was my cousin Sally's first year at camp, and I decided that as her assistant counselor, I was going to make sure she had the greatest, most extra special time ever.

      That's why I was so shocked the day she stood in front of me, in the counselor's dining hall, and accused me of ruining her summer!

      My plan to make everything special for Sally started before she even arrived. I made sure to pick out the absolute best bunk for her, putting her name on it before any of the other campers could claim it.

      I hung up a big sign over it, 'WELCOME TO A SPECIAL CAMPER!' I thought for sure she'd keep the handmade sign up all summer, and was a little hurt when she took it down right away. Sure, some of the kids had pointed at it and giggled, but so what?

      But I didn't give up trying to help her. As an assistant counselor, I get to pick out the chores that each the campers have to do every week before inspection. The kids would line up first thing every Friday morning to get their assignments. Each of the girls would try to be first in line and ask me to give them the easiest jobs. It was hard to resist them, but I always managed to make up a good reason to save the best jobs for my dear cousin.

      A couple of times, I thought I heard one or two of the other kids grumble about it, but no one said anything to my face, so I assumed it wasn't a big deal.

      Some of the girls began to nickname Sally 'The Princess,' and I thought that was so cute. After all, in my mind she was just that - a darling princess.

      You can imagine how surprised I was when I came to check on them and saw Sally cleaning the showers and doing some of the other hardest jobs - after I had gone so out of my way to do her a favor! Why she wanted to trade with the other girls was beyond me.

      In spite of all my help, Sally just didn't seem to be adjusting. Even though I always remember her being a popular kid back home, here at camp for some reason she was having trouble making friends.

      One day when I saw that she started eating alone, apart from the rest of the bunk, I took the opportunity to call her in to meet me in the special counselor's dining room. I had decided to invite her to join me there as my special guest. Any kid in the whole camp would jump at this amazing opportunity, and I was sure my dear cousin would as well. But when I told her my great idea, instead of smiling, she burst out in tears!

      "Terry, why are you doing this to me?" she sobbed. I was speechless.

      "Doing to her?" What could she possibly mean? It didn't take me long to find out. It was as if a month's worth of held-in feelings came pouring out of her like a faucet.

      "Ever since I got here, you've been doing everything possible to make the other kids hate me..."

      Hate her?!

      "First you put up that sign over my bed, the only bed that had its own window, and private cupboard. Everyone wanted that bed, and some kids who had gone to this camp for years had come early just to try to get it. They all got so jealous to see a new kid had taken it. But they had just started getting over it, when you started giving me all the 'joke' jobs to do. Boy, did I get teased. I had to switch off and take the worst job every week just to get them to talk to me. Lately the kids won't even sit with me at lunch. The say they aren't good enough to sit with a Princess! They are so jealous they can't stand me. Terry, I beg you - I know you are trying to help me, but you're ruining me. Why can't you just treat me like everybody else?"

      She broke down again in sobs that just pierced my heart. I was about to go storming out and give those bratty campers a piece of my mind. How dare they! But then I stopped myself. Wouldn't that only make it worse? I had to admit my cousin was right. I had been killing her - with kindness!

      From that day on, I resolved to change. It was hard, but I began to treat Sally like just another camper. Same demands, same chores. I even switched her bed and said it was someone else's turn to have it. Well I hope it wasn't too late. Sally looks much happier, eating and playing with all her friends. I guess I never realized that sometimes not doing someone a favor is the biggest favor you can do for her.

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QUESTIONS

Ages 3-5

Q. How did Terry feel when she first started doing her cousin extra favors?
A. She felt she was doing her a favor that would help her to enjoy her summer.

Q. How did she feel after talking with Sally in the lunchroom?
A. She felt like the favors were making Sally's bunkmates jealous, and she shouldn't do them.


Ages 6-9

Q. Was Terry really doing Sally a favor? Why or why not?
A. It seemed that way to her, after all she was giving her a lot of special privileges. But really it was causing her cousin more bad than good, since it was causing the other kids to resent her.

Q. Is there any way Terry could have expressed her special affection for Sally without making people jealous?
A. She could have thought of thing to do that others wouldn't have noticed, such as writing her a special private note instead of making a big sign, and trying to do her small favors that nobody would notice.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Is it okay to favor some people over others in our hearts?
A. While the ideal may be to love all mankind to the utmost, practically speaking, there are always going to be some people we feel closer to than others. It is natural to feel this way, and practically beyond our control. What we can control is to be sensitive to everyone's feelings and make sure that our actions won't cause any jealousy or hard feelings.

Q. How can we prevent ourselves from feeling jealous?
A. It is important to remember that nothing happens by chance. Rather, God is actively involved in our lives, and makes sure that each of us gets exactly what we need. It is impossible to get any more or less. If we keep this in mind, we will begin to trust Him more, and no longer be jealous of something that is not meant to be ours.


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Published: December 13, 2003

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