This week's Torah portion teaches us about an amazing artifact in the Holy Tabernacle that gave people true answers and valuable advice straight from heaven! While we are no longer able to seek heavenly advice from this item, called the Urim-V'Tumim, we can still make our lives more successful by seeking advice from people who have knowledge and experience to guide us along the way.
In our story, a kid discovers that sometimes it pays to ask advice.
OUT OF THE DOGHOUSE
"Come on, Snuffy. Go in - I made it just for you!" Andy urged. He'd spent the whole morning working on building the doghouse, but now his pet beagle didn't want any part of it.
Andy couldn't really blame him. Though he'd tried to do it right, he hadn't exactly known how to use the tools or put the pieces together and what he'd hoped was going to be a canine palace looked more like a shoddy shack.
"Here, you want me to help you go in?" he smiled, taking the dog gently by his collar and pulling him reluctantly forward.
"See Snuffy, this is going to be a great house for you!" he said, enthusiastically clapping his hand down on the doghouse's roof to emphasize his point.
Suddenly the whole thing fell over like a house of cards, boy and dog jumping out of the way just in time.
"Oh no!" Andy cried as Snuffy high-tailed it behind the swing-set.
As he started straightening it and deciding where to bang a couple of more nails - or maybe squirt some glue - Andy heard the whirr of a power tool coming from Mr. Miller's garage. He must be up to his latest carpentry project, the boy thought.
Funny how Mr. Miller managed to build whole porches and sheds for his house, while he couldn't even put together a dumb doghouse.
His mom had suggested he ask the friendly neighbor for advice on the project, but Andy figured, why bother? Besides, it felt funny to just go ask someone what to do.
This nail should do the trick, Andy thought as he swung his hammer.
"Ouch!!!" he'd banged his thumb - again!
Okay, enough self-inflicted torture - I'm asking advice!
"C'mon in," Mr. Miller called out, responding to the knock on his garage door.
"Oh, hi Andy, what's up?" he asked, putting down his drill.
"Um, I'm trying to build a house for Snuffy, but it's not exactly working out... Um, maybe you could give me a couple of pointers?"
"Sure, let's go take a look," the man smiled.
In what seemed like no time, Mr. Miller had expertly sketched Andy a plan for how to put the doghouse back together so it would be strong and steady and had even lent him a couple of tools he said would make the job a lot easier.
"If you need more help, don't hesitate to ask," Mr. Miller said. "Good luck!"
About an hour later, following Mr. Miller's instructions, Andy stood proudly in front of a doghouse that stood strong and looked - like a real doghouse. Now he just had to go find Snuffy and convince him to try it out.
He didn't have to look far, because as he turned around, he saw the dog standing right next to him, tail wagging, with his favorite rawhide toy in his mouth. Andy stepped aside and watched amazed as Snuffy scooted right into his new house - tail wagging a mile a minute.
Well, Andy thought with a smile, it seems even Snuffy knows that I took the right advice - by asking for advice!
Q. How did Andy feel at first about asking for advice?
A. He didn't feel like he had to or wanted to do it.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how getting advice from someone who knew, made things go a lot better.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Andy learned that day?
A. He hadn't considered asking advice about something he didn't know too much about to be a worthwhile thing to do. But after seeing how it helped his building project, he saw that getting advice about things could make a big difference.
Q. What types of things are appropriate to ask people for advice about?
A. There is almost no area in life where a little good advice can't really help things along. Not only in practical things (like doghouse building) but also concerning value and ethical decisions - we nearly always gain by consulting people with wisdom and experience that we trust.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think that asking advice makes you more dependent? Why or why not?
A. Of course, if taken to extreme (like never choosing what ice-cream flavor to order without asking advice) it can do that. However, in many areas of life, both practical and ethical, if we ask advice of honest and knowledgeable people and try to learn from what they tell us, not only aren't we giving up independence, but we're choosing to take action that will help us learn and grow.
Q. How can we know if the advice we've been given is good?
A. Though it's hard to be 100% sure, if the advice both makes logical sense and seems to 'feel' right, quite likely it is.