Family Parsha Parshat Pekudei: A Job Well Done
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Pekudei(Exodus 38:21-40:38)

A Job Well Done


Whatever we do, we should try to do it right and not just half-heartedly. In this week's portion, the Torah points out how Betzalel and the others who worked to make the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle and its special furnishings, made the extra effort to do it right - just the way God and Moses had asked them. They didn't try to cut any corners. We can learn from this good trait and remember that anything worth doing is worth doing right.

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In our story we meet a kid who discovers that half-way isn't the only way.

"HALF-WAY HOUSE"

      "Why don't they make these drawers any bigger?" huffed Debby Robinson as she quickly stuffed the half-folded laundry into the overflowing dresser drawers. Sure, it would probably all fit better if she took the time to fold everything and arrange it neatly, but who had time to bother with that?

      She took the couple of blouses she couldn't stuff in and threw them on her bed, which together with her still tangled sheet, she covered over with her quilt. Good enough. Her mom had asked her to fold and put away her clothes, make her bed, and finish her homework before going out and that's what she was doing - sort of, anyway.

      Then she sat down to get her homework out of the way. "Let's see," she pulled out the day's assignment sheet. "Read history book pages 35-40." She took out the big, heavy book and started to read - the first and last sentence of each paragraph, that is. That should be enough to give me an idea of what it was talking about in case I get called on in school. Who could bother to actually read the whole boring thing?

      Next, math. "Seven kids wanted to split four apples. How much does each one get?" Why couldn't each kid just take his own apple? she thought. Wouldn't that make their lives - and her homework - so much easier?

      "About a half," she quickly wrote down, as she continued to fly through the rest of the homework.

      She was just about done when her mom walked in. "Oh, Debby I forgot to tell you Rachel called and..." Her mother stopped in mid-sentence as she took a glance at the dresser that looked like half the clothes were trying to jump out of it, and the lumpy half-made bed. "Come on, Debby, you know this is not what's called cleaning up your room. I expect you to finish the job before you leave the house today."

      "But Mom, can't you give me a break? After all, does it really make such a big difference if the bed is all-the-way made, and the clothes are all-the-way folded?"

      But her mother only shook her head, smiled and said, "I'm sorry, I realize you're in a hurry, but still, if your going to do..."

      "I know Mom, 'if you're going to do something, do it right,' " the girl sighed and repeated what seemed to her to be her mother's favorite expression, and Debby's least favorite.

      "When you finish, come downstairs. Your lunch will be waiting - and please bring me your math homework for me to look over before you go."

      Debby groaned. She just didn't understand why her mom make such a big deal about doing things right.

      Somehow, she slogged through her math homework, and then dragged herself back over to the dresser and started folding her clothes. But after one or two shirts, she got a 'brilliant' idea, and just gave everything one big push and smiled as the drawer miraculously snapped shut and stayed there - almost. Next she jumped down on her bed like a cannon ball, and got up. There, everything looked much flatter now!

      Debby ran downstairs. Although she may not have agreed with her mom's idea of cleaning, she just loved her cooking. She looked forward to one of her typical hot, filling lunches to fuel her up for a day of play.

      "Finished everything already, Debs?" her mom asked with a surprised smile.

      "Yeah, sure Mom, basically."

      Her mom didn't say anything. Together they walked into the kitchen. "Here you go. Enjoy your lunch," Mrs. Robinson said pointing to the kitchen table.

      Debby sat down and looked at her plate. "Hey Mom, what's this? Where is the salad?" Usually her mom started lunch with a nice fresh cut salad, but today there was just a half a tomato, a cucumber and a knife.

      "The salad is right there," her mom said pointing to the plate. "It's not quite all-the-way made, but that's okay isn't it?"

      Debby half-heartedly cut a few slices of cucumber and ate them. 'Well at least I'll enjoy the main course,' she thought to herself, 'today's spaghetti and meat sauce.'

      But when her mom set down the bowl in front of her, Debby cringed. The pasta was ice-cold, and the sauce, which wasn't much warmer, seemed to have forgotten its meat.

      "Mom, what happened to lunch today?" she cried out.

      "What's wrong with the lunch? I know it might not be all-the-way cooked, but it's good enough, isn't it?"

      "Okay, mom. You win. I admit doing things half-way isn't good enough. But could I please have some hot spaghetti?"

      Her mom smiled, gave her a big hug, and then brought out the beautiful fresh salad, and steaming plate of food that she had waiting for her.

      The two of them had a good laugh together. After lunch was over, Debby called up her friends and told them she might be a little late, since she had something important to finish that was only half-way done.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Debby feel about how well she had to do things she was supposed to do at first?
A. She felt like it was good enough to just do them halfway, or well enough to get by.

Q. How did she feel about it in the end?
A. She saw how it really made a big difference to do things right.


Ages 6-9

Q. What did Debby learn from her mom's half-made lunch?
A. She had always felt like it was okay just to do things in a half-hearted way and her mother's insisting that she do things right was unreasonable. But when she got to experience first hand the difference between a well made lunch and a half-hearted one, she realized that the extra effort really did make a big difference.

Q. If her mom didn't push her to do things right, would there be any other reason for Debby to do so?
A. Getting in the habit of doing things right and not only half way is a valuable life-skill. It will not only make others feel better about us, it also makes us feel better about ourselves, and help us accomplish much more in life.

Q. Why do you think we sometimes feel like doing things only half way?


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do you think a person feels better when he 'gets away' with doing something halfway, or when he puts in the extra effort to do it right?
A. You might think the former - after all it's less work. But a person has a built in need to feel accomplished, and can only really feel good about himself when he knows he's put in his full effort. Try it and see.

Q. Is there ever a time that it is appropriate to do things only half-heartedly?
A. Everything has its place. When we feel drawn to do things we really know we shouldn't (like eating that extra piece of cake, etc.), that's the perfect time to go into half-hearted mode, and if we can't stop ourselves entirely, at least we'll cut down our enthusiasm.

Q. Why do you think we sometimes feel like doing things only half way?


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Published: March 5, 2005

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