We have to be very careful not to falsely accuse someone of doing wrong. In this week's portion, Korach and his followers falsely accuse Moses of wrongdoing and cause a great tragedy.
In our story, some kids discover the harm of false accusations.
The two friends stared bleakly at the returned test papers they held in their hands. One read a fat 50% in red pen, and the other, a slightly better 61%.
"Oh boy. I'm in big trouble," said Michael. "My dad is gonna be sooo mad."
"Well, that ain't nothing compared to my mom. I'm gonna get it!" said Scott, miserably. "I guess we should've studied a little harder instead of playing soccer all day yesterday."
Their conversation was interrupted as both boys watched James, a kid who'd transferred into their school that year, walk by. Even though he was holding his test paper folded in his hand, Scott was able to see the 100% scrawled across the top, followed by an exclamation point.
"Sheesh, that guy," Scott whispered to Michael. "Is he for real, do you think? Who gets 100 all the time, every test?"
Michael rolled his eyes. "It's not fair! You know, I bet he cheats!"
"Yeah," said Scott "I bet he sticks little papers all over his sleeves and shoes. Or maybe he's got a Bluetooth imbedded in his ear and his brother is whispering the answers to him while he's taking the test."
"Yeah," Michael agreed. "It's guys like him who always get 100's that ruin it for guys like us - but what can you do? Hey, wait a minute! I got a great idea that will put that kid in his place." The boys quickly scribbled a note and put it on the teacher's desk.
The next day, Michael and Scott were walking home from school as usual.
"You saw James around in school today?" Scott asked.
"Funny, he's usually never out. He's probably home with a cold."
The next day in school, there was still no sign of James. Curious, the two boys decided to stop off by James' house after school.
"Hi James," they said, when he answered the door to their knock. "What's up? We missed you at school." Both boys were shocked by James's appearance. His usually neat hair was all messed up and it was obvious he'd been doing some serious crying.
"I...I...I've been suspended from school..."
"WHAT?" cried Mike. "SUSPENDED? YOU?"
"Yes. Someone gave the teacher an anonymous note telling him they saw me cheating. Since I'm new in the school...they don't know me from other years. All the teachers from my old school knew I study really hard - that's why I get good marks - not from cheating!"
Tears threatened to spill over James' eyes again, and he took a deep breath.
"The principal told me there has been a lot of cheating going on in the school lately and they are going to make an example out of me to get it to stop. They said I can come back when I'm ready to confess. But how can I confess when I didn't do anything wrong? Who would be so mean to falsely accuse me?"
If the earth could have opened up right then beneath them, Michael and Scott would have gladly allowed themselves to be swallowed up, just to avoid the shame they felt right then. It was clear that they had made a BIG mistake. It was clear that the kid wasn't a cheater. Anyway, they had only written that note to the teacher to let off a little steam - not to get a kid kicked out of school!
The boys knew what they had to do. The embarrassing trip to the teacher to admit what they'd done - and then to the principal and the punishment for what they did - was nothing compared to the hurt look James gave them whenever they would pass him in the hall. The guys learned the big lesson that false accusations could cause a lot of true damage.
Q. How did the boys feel at first about accusing James?
A. They didn't feel like it was a big deal and that it wouldn't get him in much trouble.
Q. How did they feel in the end?
A. When they saw how much trouble they got him in for no reason, they realized how bad it was to accuse people.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. Many times a person might feel tempted to accuse someone of doing something wrong - even when we don't really know if they did it. However, we should know that false accusations are a serious thing that can really hurt others.
Q. If James had really been cheating and the boys knew it, would there have been anything wrong with telling the teacher?
A. Even if we know someone's doing something wrong, unless it's something dangerous to themselves or others, we should think twice before reporting them and getting them into trouble. If we're not sure what to do, we could discuss the matter first with someone, whose advice we trust and respect.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. When we hear of someone accused of doing something wrong, how should we react to it? Should we believe it, ignore it, etc.?
A. If the matter doesn't affect us, we should simply assume it to be false. If it could potentially harm us if it's true, we should take precautions, yet not accept it as being definitely true.
Q. If someone accuses someone else of doing something wrong and the second person doesn't deny it - do you think it proves he's guilty? Why or why not?
A. Not necessarily. It could be that the accused person just figures if he denies it no one will believe him, or he simply doesn't want to get into an argument.