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Bamidbar(Numbers 1:1-4:20)

The Privilige of Giving


As the Jewish people journeyed through the desert on their way to the land of Israel, one tribe, the Levites, was singled out by God for special greatness and importance. Did this mean they got to take it easy while everyone else did things for them? No, just the opposite. They had extra jobs to do to serve the community! We can learn from this that being able to help and give to others isn't a burden, but rather a privilege

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In our story a kid discovers a surprising lesson about giving and taking.

"SECOND HELPING"

"Josh, could you please bring the breakfast tray up to Grandma's room?"

"Mom, do I have to?" grunted the boy. "I'm just on my way out to play ball with the guys."

"It'll only take a minute, Josh."

"Oh, all right. You know, Grandma's so lucky to have people doing things for her all the time," he said.

"You are much luckier since you can do things for other people," his mother said as she handed him the tray.

Josh disagreed. He didn't like helping around the house, ever. And ever since his elderly grandmother had moved into their home, it seemed like his parents always needed something or other to be done for her, and he always seemed to be the one who had to do it. Usually he tried to duck out of the house before he'd have to bring her breakfast, but today he wasn't fast enough.

Josh, grumbling under his breath, quickly finished his task and ran out to play basketball with his friends. He was having a good game - that is until he jumped up and came down hard and hurt his ankle. His dad took him to the clinic for x-rays. Fortunately, it wasn't broken, but the doctor said he'd have to stay in bed for a week and keep his leg elevated.

Josh wasn't happy that he hurt his leg, but he was very happy when he realized that for the next seven days not only wouldn't he have to do anything to help others, but people would actually be doing things for him all week instead.

Indeed, Josh felt like a king in a throne as his dad pushed him in the special wheelchair they borrowed, up their driveway, into the house and straight into his soft, comfy bed.

"Would you like a drink?" asked his concerned mom.

"Yeah, with lots of ice please," Josh replied. Yup, this is going to be great, he thought to himself.

After a little while he remembered the great new triple-length comic book he had tucked away in his desk drawer that would be just perfect for this occasion. He was about to jump out of bed to get it when it dawned on him that with his leg wrapped up like a mummy and hoisted up in the air, he wasn't going anywhere.

"Hey, Mom..." he called out in a loud voice. A minute later, his big sister, Amy came in.

"What can I do for the 'patient'?" she asked cheerfully.

"Where's Mom?"

"She had to run out for a while so she put me in charge. What do you need?"

Josh hesitated. If he had one iron-clad rule, it was that his sisters weren't allowed to go into his desk. But there was no way he could get it himself.

"Um, I need my comic book." he muttered.

"No problem. Where is it?" Amy asked.

Josh told her and tried not to pay attention to the big grin on her face, as she went into his 'strictly forbidden zone' - at his invitation, no less. Maybe this being waited on wasn't quite all it was cracked up to be.

That evening his mom brought him his supper on the same kind of tray he was usually stuck bringing up to Grandma. It was lasagna, not one of his favorite dinners. Usually he'd just skip it and raid the fridge later on while no one was looking. But now, stuck in bed, he decided he'd better just eat it.

As the days passed Josh began to enjoy all the help less and less. He didn't like the way his sisters kept coming in and out of his room as if they owned the place. But what could he do? He needed their help to bring him things. And it hurt even more when he overheard them complain to each other about having to help him... the way he would complain when his parents would ask him to do things for Grandma. Had she overheard him too?

The worst thing was how he had to ask for help even when he needed to use the shower or the restroom. It made him feel like a total baby.

Soon enough, Josh was bored, embarrassed and counting the minutes until he would be back on his own two feet.

The day finally came and the morning after he got his cast off, Josh was up bright and early.

"Mom?"

"Yes, Josh?"

"Maybe Grandma needs someone to serve her breakfast?" he asked.

His mom couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Josh, that's really nice of you, but I wasn't going to ask. Are you sure your leg's okay? Also, I know it's not easy for you to help Grandma."

The boy shook his head and smiled. "Not anymore. Mom, you were right. After having to depend on people's help all week, I realize how lucky I really am to be able to do things for people and not always have them do things for me."

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Josh feel at first about spending a week in bed?
A. He felt it would be great because everyone would be doing things for him and he wouldn't have to do things for anybody.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He was glad when it was over and that it felt much better to help than be helped.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life lesson do you think Josh learned?
A. He had felt put upon having to do things to help his grandmother and wished people would serve him instead, but his experience taught him how much better it felt to help than to be helped.

Q. Why do you think Josh didn't enjoy his week off as much as he expected?
A. When a person can help others, even if it is sometimes difficult, he feels good about himself. When we have to rely on others, like Josh did for a week, even though it's easier, it can make a person can feel less good about himself.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. What do you think might be the connection between helping others and coming closer to God?
A. The way we come closer to God, in a spiritual sense, is by treating others the way He treats us. Since God is always helping us, when we help others we draw closer.

Q. How should a person who has no choice but to depend on others view his situation?
A. He should realize that this is the situation God has put him in and therefore must be for his good. Also he can realize that in a way he is helping those who help him to become better and more giving people.


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Published: May 20, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Betsy, June 25, 2006 12:00 AM

The disabled can contribute as well

My son and I were at the home of friends who read this aloud and discussed it with all of the children present on Shabbat Bamidbar. I did not like the portrayal of the disabled (temporary or permanent disabilities) as unable to contribute to the family or society. I raise a son, run a household and hold down a job from a wheelchair. I have a good friend who is a quadrapalegic who can not lift his head but does have use of four fingers, and he uses those four fingers to design and update his shul's website. He is also a regular Torah reader at his shul, where two people hold the Torah upright and the hazzan moves the yad for him when he chants.

In your family dvar, perhaps you can have grandma share her wisdom or recollections, help children with homework, or read bedtime stories from her bed. Perhaps Josh can catch up on books or studying, spend time helping friends on the phone, draw the cards that Meals on Wheels includes with their deliveries, etc.

Thank you,

Betsy

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