If we see someone in trouble and there's a chance we can help, we should not turn our heads the other way. We should get involved and help him out. This week's Torah portion shows us several examples of the courage to get involved, like when Batya rescues baby Moses from the river, and later, when Moses himself rescues a Jewish slave from the attacks of a violent Egyptian. The Torah way is to get involved and take responsibility.
In our story some kids see what can happen when you're willing to get involved.
The AroundTown Mall was almost always packed with people on Sunday afternoons. Fairly new and filled with lots of interesting shops and things to do, the AroundTown was a popular weekend excursion spot, even if you didn't need to buy anything. It was just a fun place to be.
This particularly rainy Sunday, four friends were wandering aimlessly around the shopping center, intrigued by all the activity swirling around them. Every few moments their eyes would be drawn to some exciting clothing shop or music store. They would disband and regroup at regular intervals, as each one would follow after whatever was catching her eye, and then lose interest just as quickly.
On one of their regroupings, they all noticed an old lady walking around in circles and mumbling softly to herself, weeping and sobbing soundlessly. Even if they tried, they couldn't have missed it, and they did try. As if of one mind, they all swerved to the opposite side of walkway, hoping to avoid any encounter with the odd scene unfolding in front of them.
Shari looked at Rose and made a "crazy lady" signal, and Rose rolled her eyes in response. Mandy looked down at her shoes, and Jess just stared straight ahead and kept walking. People were passing by in droves and no one was paying any attention to the old lady, so why should they?
After they had just about passed her, Mandy stopped walking and started to try to say something.
"What's the problem, Mandy? Why'd you stop? C'mon, we want to get some pizza."
"I don't know," said Mandy. "I just don't think it's right to leave that old lady by herself. She looks lost."
"Lost? She's probably just nuts," said Jess. "Let's go. Forget about it."
"No. I can't," said Mandy. "Let's just go and see if she needs help. Please? It'll just take a second, and the sodas are on me. Okay?"
Her three friends looked at each other and conferred with their eyes. "Okay, Mandy. For you, and for free soda, we'll do it."
They started walking quickly but Mandy slowed them down. "Not so fast. She might get startled."
They quietly surrounded the older woman, and Mandy took her arm and with a reassuring smile, gently led her towards the security and information center. Standing there, wringing his hands and speaking frantically into his cell phone, was a man who turned out to be the woman's son.
"Mommy. Ma! You're okay. I was so worried. What happened, Mom?"
The woman looked at her son with total confusion etched on her face. "I don't know. One minute I was walking with you and the next minute you were gone! I lost my way ... I think."
The man now turned to Mandy and her friends. "Were you the ones who brought my mother here? How can I possibly thank you? She's getting older, and sometimes becomes forgetful. I was being so careful to be sure that she was right next to me, but I must have turned my back for a moment..."
To the girls' utter surprise, the man burst into tears. They were shocked to see how much their small act of leading his mother over to the security booth, their small act of caring that they almost refused to do, made such a tremendous difference to this man and his mother. It taught them a lot about how getting involved, even in a small way, can make huge waves in the lives of others.
In the end Rose, Shari and Jess treated Mandy instead.
Q. How did Mandy's friends feel about helping the old lady at first? A. They felt like they didn't have to get involved or pay her any attention.
Q. How did they feel in the end?
A. They saw how what they did made such a difference and that 'getting involved' to help was the right choice.
Q. What life lesson do you think the kids learned that day?
A. When they first saw the old lady they had blown it off as just being a crazy person and not worth getting involved with. But after they saw what a good deed they did by making the effort to help her, they realized that sometimes getting involved is a great thing to do.
Q. Should we always get involved with people's problems or is it sometimes better to be cautious and stay away?
A. In a situation like this, when it was obviously a harmless old lady in a public place, it was right to get directly involved. However if we have a reason to fear that the person might be dangerous in any way, it would be more in order to get them outside help by calling the police, etc.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What attitude do you think someone could develop to get motivated to get more involved?
A. If we realize that as part of humanity we are all in it together and only by coming to each other's aid when necessary can we make the world into the loving and kind place that God hopes, we will find the courage and motivation to take the trouble to get involved to help others.
Q. Our sages teach that saving one person is like saving the whole world. How do you understand that concept?
A. Each of us is a unique and precious creation of God, without whom, the world would be incomplete. Therefore by saving a single life, we help God to make the world more perfect and whole.