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Vayelech(Deuteronomy 31)

Forgiving to Others


God is forgiving and wants us to be forgiving to others. In this week's Torah portion we see that God always keeps the door of forgiveness open to those who have done wrong and want to change for the better. We can learn from here that the Torah way is to be forgiving and not hard-hearted.

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In our story, a kid learns the value of forgiveness.

"BEATING THE BAND"

Jack and the guys were setting up their instruments and getting ready for band practice when the phone rang.

"That was Dave," Steve said, hanging up the phone. "He says he's really sorry but his bike has a flat tire and he's gonna be late."

"I'm going to call him right back and tell him not to bother. He's out of the band!" said Jack, the band's vocalist, all angry. He grabbed the phone.

"Hey, wait a sec," said Steve, "You want to kick him out? Why?"

"Because he has some nerve being late and holding all of us up - and this isn't the first time it happened."

"But it's not his fault. He got a flat - he said he was sorry. Give the guy a break."

"Excuses, excuses. If it's not one excuse, it's another, and I'm not interested." Jack started dialing.

"Wait a minute," pleaded Steve. "Let's at least give him one more chance."

"All right," huffed Jack. "One more chance. But from now on there's a new rule: whoever comes late is out of the band. Okay?"

Steve reluctantly agreed and a little while later when Dave showed up and apologized, Steve and the rest of the guys were forgiving, but Jack gave him a mean look and told him the new rule.

The next day, Jack got home from school and was feeling really tired. Band practice wasn't for more than an hour, so he figured he would catch a quick nap first so he'd have more energy to play. He carefully set his alarm for a half an hour, to give him plenty of time to get there.

"Okay, I made it just on time!" said Dave as he burst in the door of the rehearsal room. "At least I'm still in the band." He looked around. Everyone else was there too - except for one of them...

Almost two hours later, Jack woke up in a cold sweat. He looked at the clock. "Oh, no!" he said aloud. "I'm late for practice." Then he remembered the new rule he had made. What was he going to do? Because of his dumb, mean rule he was going to get kicked out of his own band!

The guys were already practicing when Jack walked in, head hanging down.

"Hey, you made it - great," smiled Steve. "We really missed your vocals. "

"Well I guess you won't need them from now on," Jack said softly.

"Why?" asked Steve.

"Because I came late, that's why. So I'm out of the band, remember?"

The guys looked at each other and then spoke quietly amongst themselves.

"Forget about it, Jack. These things can happen to anyone. We all forgive you and want you to stay in the band. Right guys?"

Everyone nodded his head. Jack felt so relieved that the guys forgave him that right then and there, not only did he cancel his rule, but decided that from then on he would be much more forgiving of Dave and others, too.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Jack feel at first about Dave coming late?
A. He felt like he didn't want to forgive him.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how everybody can sometimes make mistakes - like he did by oversleeping - and that he should try to be more forgiving.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life lesson do you think Jack learned that day?
A. He had an attitude of being hard-hearted and unforgiving of other people's mistakes and weaknesses, but the experience of erring and being forgiven by his friends taught him the value of forgiveness.

Q. Do you think if Dave keeps continually coming late, the guys should keep him in the band?
A. It might reach a point where they are simply unable to keep someone in the band who doesn't show up when they need him. However, they should try first to be as tolerant and forgiving as they can and perhaps help him to become more prompt.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Our sages teach that God judges us as we judge others. What do you think this means and how is it applicable to our story?
A. Our attitude toward others is the measuring stick that God uses to measure us and respond to our behavior. When we are forgiving to others even when they mess up, God views us the same way and vice-versa.

Q. Is there anything that is 'unforgivable?'
A. God is the ultimate fair judge and sees to it that everyone eventually is rewarded for his good deeds, faces the consequences of his misdeeds and is compensated for his losses. Therefore, while we certainly are ethically allowed to prevent ourselves falling victim to other's damaging behavior, we should adopt an attitude of forgiveness and leave the rest in God's capable hands.


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Published: September 9, 2006

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