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Vayakhel(Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Willing to Try


What is the secret to success? We might think that success depends on training, talent and experience. While these things are certainly valuable, this week's Torah portion reveals the hidden inner secret of success that can change our lives. When it was time to construct the Tabernacle and all of its beautiful furnishings, the question arose: who would be able to do this complicated and highly skilled work? None of the people had any training or experience, since they had all been slaves doing manual labor in Egypt.

In the end, it was those motivated and positive-minded people who, despite the obstacles, were willing to step in and try. Once they took the initiative, God helped them and they succeeded! With enough drive and initiative, the Almighty helps us accomplish amazing things.

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In our story we meet a kid who doesn't let the 'impossible' stop him and saves the day.

"MISSION IMPOSSIBLE"

      "Okay guys, we just have to go over that hill. Then according to my map we are there!" said Dave Fisher, president of the Greenfield Day School environmental club.

      The guys had been hiking for more than two hours on their mission to help clean up a garbage-polluted meadow in Timberline State Forest. But everyone's enthusiasm soon turned to despair as they got to the top of the hill. There was the meadow all right. But between it and them was a heavily flowing river!

      The stream, which was usually just a tiny trickle, had been turned by all the melting snow flowing down from the mountain into, what seemed to the boys, a raging river.

      "Oh no! This wasn't on the map," groaned Dave.

      Phil, another club member, bent down to check out the water. "No way can we get across. The water's way too deep - and brrr, way too cold to walk through."

      The guys shook their heads. It looked like they had just hiked two hours for nothing and their big clean-up mission had turned into a big wash-out.

      "Maybe we can walk around it?" asked Phil.

      Dave shook his head. "Impossible. Take a look - the stream goes on as far as the eye can see. I hate to say it guys, but there's nothing else to do but give it up and go back home."

      The boys nodded their heads grumbling, and began to backtrack.

      "Hey, wait a minute!" called out a high-pitched voice. They all turned around to face Ari Simms, the club's youngest member. "How can we just give up like this? There has to be a way to get across."

      "What do you suggest, we fly?" jeered Phil as the other boys laughed bitterly.

      "Very funny," said Ari. "All I know is that we've come so far, and what we have to do is so important that there just has to be a way. Give me a little time and I'm sure I'll figure something out."

      The guys looked at each other, then looked at Dave. They wished Ari was right, but it really seemed impossible. "Okay, Ari, you've got ten minutes to come up with something, or else we have to call it quits."

      "Deal!" he said.

      Dave and the other guys sat down to eat on some nearby rocks, as Ari racked his brains. "Please God," he whispered. "I know you want us to help clean up your world, just show me how."

      Suddenly he saw a funny looking branch sticking out from between two rocks. He went to check it out. It wasn't just a branch; it was a whole dead fallen pine tree. Hey, this would make a great bridge, he thought. If only it's big enough. He started to tug on it with all the strength his 89-pound body could muster. At first it wouldn't budge, but then it started to move.

      A couple of other guys who had been watching began laughing at the strange sight. But then they caught on to what he was trying to do and jumped over to help him. Soon they had gotten the dead tree to the edge of the stream. Ari stood it up straight then gave it a push. "Okay, here we go. Tim-berr!!" he said as he let the tree fall, hoping it would span the stream.

      CRAASSHH!!

      With eyes wide open, the boys saw the tree stretched perfectly across to the other side. "You did it, Ari!!"

      "Not so fast, guys," Dave interjected. He put his foot on the tree and shook his head. "Great try, Ari, but it's just not steady enough to cross over. Sorry, but we just can't risk it."

      The guys groaned, but Ari refused to give up. "Just give me a couple more minutes. I'm sure I can work it out." This is a tough one, he thought. How in the world could we make it steady? Come on God - help me out here.

      He took a couple of steps and almost tripped. What was that?

      Ari looked down at some thick vines spread across the forest floor, and his face lit up in a smile. He pulled his Swiss Army knife out of his pocket, and couple of quick cuts later, he came running over to the tree-bridge. "Guys, looks like God sent us some ropes!" He beamed as he quickly secured one end of the dead tree to a nearby root. Then, before anyone knew what was happening, he quickly scampered across the bridge to the other side of the stream and tied that end of the tree with the vines.

      "Come on! It's steady as anything now, and the meadow awaits!" he smiled as he waved his friends across.

      Dave felt the bridge and nodded in approval. "He did it. He did the impossible! Let's go!"

      Seven happy laughing boys darted across what they dubbed the 'Ari Tree Bridge' and were able to accomplish their clean-up mission, thanks to the kid who was willing to try, and make the impossible - possible.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Dave and most of the kids feel when they first got to the stream?
A. They felt that they had no choice but to give up.

Q. How did Ari feel?
A. He felt that since they were doing something good, if only they would really try to succeed, God would help them out - and he was right!


Ages 6-9

Q. What lesson did Ari teach his friends that day?
A. He showed them that many things that seem impossible to do are really possible, if instead of giving up, we take a positive 'can-do' attitude and rely on the Almighty to help. His willingness to try, despite what looked like slim odds, turned a nearly failed good-deed mission into a successful one.

Q. Why do you think Ari succeeded where his friends were ready to give up?
A. Because they focused on two different things. Ari's friends saw a big, cold, rushing stream, so it only seemed natural to turn back. But Ari saw a meadow that needed cleaning up, and kept trying until he found a way to get there, knowing the Almighty would help them get the job done.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do you think it was a lucky coincidence that Ari found the dead tree and the vines?
A. While it was certainly fortunate, it had nothing to do with coincidence. When we have a strong will to get something worthwhile done, God opens our minds and eyes to discover the ideas and tools needed to make it happen.

Q. A certain wise and successful man said that when he wanted to get something done, he never asked himself 'if it could be done,' but rather 'whether it needed to be done.' What do you think he meant?
A. Often when we have a task in front of us, we have no idea how we will be able to accomplish it. If we look to our abilities or experience alone it may seem beyond us. But this is limiting. Instead of focusing on our abilities, we should focus on necessity, or whether our goal is worthwhile; if so, jump in and let God help us do what we never thought possible.


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Published: February 26, 2005

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