Family Parsha Parshat Vayelech: Making Peace
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Vayelech(Deuteronomy 31)

Making Peace


These special days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are traditionally a time of peace-making. People go out of their way to approach each other and patch up any bad feelings that may have developed between them. God loves it when we are at peace with each other and make the effort to forgive and be forgiven.

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In our story a kid gets a sweet taste of ice cream and a not-so-sweet taste of disharmony.

"LAST LICKS"

      "Wow, Amy I can't believe the time! We'd better get going before our parents think we melted into our ice-cream sundaes."

      Amy looked at her watch and nodded with a smile. Whenever she and her cousin Lauren got together, especially at their favorite hangout, Scoops Brothers Ice-Cream Emporium, time just seemed to melt away. The two were as close as sisters and able to share with each other parts of their lives that they could with no one else.

      "Okay, so I guess it's your turn this time, right?" smiled Lauren, as she buttoned her sweater. They always took turns treating each other. Even though it came out even in the end, it somehow felt cozier that way.

      "Well ... actually I believe it's your turn." said Amy, voice a bit on edge. "Remember how I paid last time when you forgot your wallet?"

      "Cousin, maybe the hot-fudge has gone to your head or something, because that was two times ago. I paid last time," Lauren insisted.

      Neither of them meant it to happen, but somehow the discussion turned into an argument which turned into a fight and before anyone knew what had happened, each of them slammed just enough money down on the counter to cover their own ice-cream, and stormed out - in opposite directions.

      Over the next couple of weeks Amy waited for Lauren to call and apologize. She knew she had been right and was certain that her cousin would realize it too. Once or twice, when some intense things came up in her life, she instinctively reached for the phone to call Lauren to talk it out, until she remembered they weren't on speaking terms.

      One afternoon after a grueling round of homework, Amy walked over to Scoops Brothers to reward herself with an ice cream. She sat down at one of the small wooden tables.

      "Hey, where's your pal today?" asked Jerry, the owner, as he handed her a menu. Jerry was a grandfatherly type who always had a twinkle in his eye. His jokes and good words were almost as much a part of the place as the ice cream.

      Amy shrugged. "I guess we had a little, um, disagreement," she said, staring down into the laminated menu.

      "Gee, that's too bad" he said. "The two of you laughing in here together really made the place come alive. So why don't you apologize to her already?"

      Amy didn't really want to talk about it, but couldn't stop herself from blurting out, "Why should I apologize when she was the one at fault?" And then she told Jerry the whole story of their fateful last visit.

      Jerry nodded his head. "I hear you kiddo, but can I give you a piece of advice? Apologize to her, even if you were right. It just isn't worth it. Let me ask you a question: did you ever wonder why this place is called Scoops Brothers when I'm the only guy in here?"

      Actually she never had, but it was a good question.

      "Why?"

      "When I opened this place, before you were born, my brother Ed and I were partners. But one day we got into a fight - not about anything too important - but I decided we can't be partners anymore. So I bought his half of the business and we never spoke a word to each other since."

      Amy looked up at the man who had obvious pain in his face. "That's terrible. So why don't you take your own advice and apologize to him?" she asked.

      "Believe me, I'd love to. But it's too late, because Ed left the world last year." He turned to serve some other customers. "I'll bring you your cone in a minute, but do yourself a favor kiddo, don't make the same stupid mistake I did. It just isn't worth it."

      Amy had gone into the ice cream shop for a little comfort, but the owner's sad story had terrified her. Was she going to give up one of the closest people in her life for the price of a stupid ice cream? She quickly ate and went over to the phone booth across the street. It wasn't going to be easy, but she knew what she had to do. She picked up the phone and started to dial her cousin's number...

      Later that same day Amy walked into Scoops for a second time. "Hey, isn't one cone a day enough for you?" Jerry quipped, but then went quiet and broke into a big smile as he saw Lauren walk in right behind her.

      "This one's on the house!" Jerry said, bringing each of them a giant banana-split before they even ordered. "Seeing the two of you back together again may not have melted the ice cream but it has sure melted my heart."

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Amy feel about her quarrel with her cousin at first?
A. She felt like she shouldn't have to apologize since she was right.

Q. How did she feel after talking with Jerry?
A. She realized that staying friends with her cousin was more important to her than winning an argument, so she called her to make up.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life lesson did Amy learn from this incident?
A. Sometimes we can get our priorities confused and get into fights that destroy relationships over relatively minor events. Amy was ready to stop talking to her cousin over a misunderstanding and a small amount of money. Jerry's sad and shocking story woke her up to see that quarrels don't solve themselves and it was worth taking the first step to patch things up between them.

Q. If someone comes to apologize to us, must we accept it?
A. If we see that the person seems to sincerely feel bad about what happened, we should accept his apology. Peace between people is one of the most important values in life, and while we may take steps to prevent it from happening again, we should try our best to forgive those who have wronged us.

Spiritual Exercise: Think of someone you aren't on good terms with and apologize to him today.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Assuming that Amy in the story was really right, why then should she apologize?
A. When we apologize we aren't necessarily saying 'You were right and I was wrong.' What we are saying is that 'You are important to me, and having a good relationship with you is important to me. So let's start over and do what we have to do so we can be at peace once more.' In addition to this, there are always two sides to every story and it just might be that we aren't quite as faultless in a given quarrel as we think we are.

Q. Do you think that our being forgiving of others has any impact on the way God relates to us?
A. God gives us a lot of leeway in defining our relationship with Him. One major spiritual principle is that He relates to us in a mirror image of how we choose to relate to others. Therefore, to the extent that we are forgiving of others, He will be forgiving of us. That alone should be a big motivator for us to be forgiving.

Spiritual Exercise: Think of someone you aren't on good terms with and apologize to him today.


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Published: September 27, 2008

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