Ki Tisa(Exodus 30:11-34:35)
Sometimes a person feels like losing his temper. We all have moments or encounter people that try our patience and make us feel like we are at our wit's end. In this week's Torah portion the Jewish people had tested God's patience very severely. Moses was on Mount Sinai getting ready to bring the people the wonderful gift that God had given them, the Torah. At that very moment the people did exactly what God had asked them not to do, by building and worshiping a golden calf. This was a terrible mistake and God was very frustrated by this behavior. Yet He told Moses that He still loved them and would continue to be patient with them and give them a chance to straighten out their ways. We can learn from here to be more patient and understanding with the people in our lives who tend to anger and frustrate us.
In our story a boy strives to act with patience and understanding even when someone makes it hard for him.
It was a cool, sunny afternoon. Michael Fine and his friend Danny were walking home from football practice. The boys were both really tired after the high-powered workout that Coach Phillips had put them through. They almost felt too tired to even talk to each other. The last thing the boys felt like doing was dealing with a pesty, annoying kid like Jeremy Glitch, who was at that very moment making a beeline towards them from across the street.
Before the boys had even noticed him, Jeremy had managed to sneak up behind them. "Boo!" he called out in a loud annoying voice, startling the two friends. They turned around and Jeremy let out a high pitched, piercing laugh. "Scared you, huh?" he squealed.
Danny felt his blood begin to boil and the hairs standing up on the back of his neck. But Michael just looked calmly at the short, freckle-faced boy, and even managed a smile. "Hi Jeremy, what's up?" he said.
"None of your business!" answered the boy obnoxiously.
"Should we crush him, or just swat him away like a fly?" muttered Danny under his breath to his friend.
But Michael shook his head and patiently tried to engage Jeremy in a normal conversation. But all Jeremy seemed to be interested in doing was making dumb jokes, calling the boys names, and generally making a big nuisance of himself.
The minutes dragged on and Danny thought he going to explode. He was amazed at how annoying this kid was. Yet he was even more amazed at how Michael just wouldn't lose his cool. He even managed to chuckle politely at his terrible jokes. After a while Jeremy finally got bored and ran off to pester someone else. The boys picked up their very tired feet and resumed on their way.
Danny took out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead. "How do you have the patience to put up with that creep?" he asked his friend.
Michael shrugged. "What's the big deal? I know Jeremy can be a little hard to take, but he'll probably grow out of it. Everyone is always getting mad at the poor guy, so I try to give him a break, laugh at his jokes, and make him feel good."
Danny stood there thoughtfully. "I guess when you put it that way I can see your point. Even though I don't especially appreciate Jeremy's sense of humor, I suppose he's okay and it would be a nice thing to humor him once in a while."
Q. How did Danny feel when Jeremy first started pestering him and his friend?
A. He felt really annoyed and wanted the boy to go away.
Q. How did Michael feel?
A. Michael took it in stride and tried to be patient with Jeremy and not get upset.
Q. Why is it an important value to be patient with people?
A. Developing a patient attitude does good things for both ourselves and for others. It makes others feel good about themselves when they perceive that people accept them as they are, and it also turns us into calmer, more compassionate people.
Q. What are some strategies we can employ to become more patient and understanding with difficult people?
A. One thing we can do is to try to put ourselves in the other person's shoes and realize that much of their annoying behavior is likely unintentional. Also we can keep in mind that in reality this situation, like all situations, is a test from God, given to us for our own benefit to help us grow spiritually.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Our sages teach that the more patient and understanding we are with others, the more patient und understanding God will be with us. Why do you think this is so?
A. God loves each of us and has infinite patience for us, yet to a large extent we determine our ability to feel and perceive his love and patience according to the extent that we attempt to behave this way to others. As we develop these traits within us, we will find ourselves living in a safer, happier and nicer world.
Q. Does a person ever have the right to lose his temper at another person?
A. There may be situations of danger, etc., when it is appropriate and justified to express anger. However it is very beneficial to try to limit these times to the absolute minimum. Also an effort should be made to only show anger on the surface while remaining calm inside. In other words while it might at times be appropriate to 'use' our temper, we should try to never 'lose' our temper.