Family Parsha Parshat V'etchanan: Don't Expect Anything
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V'etchanan(Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

Don't Expect Anything


We appreciate life - and other people - much more when we don't have the spoiled attitude of expecting everything to be given to us. In this week's Torah portion we learn that when Moses requested something of God, even though he was the most deserving of people, he didn't ask as if he was entitled to anything. Rather, he asked as if it was an undeserved favor. We can learn from here the Torah value of not acting spoiled.

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In our story, a kid discovers what life is like when we don't expect everything given to us.

SPOIL-RESISTANT

"C'mon Mom, hurry up. Didn't you finish packing my suitcase yet? I have to catch my train in 15 minutes," Megan stated, annoyed. "And what about snacks - are you sure you made my sandwiches exactly like I told you to?"

Megan was looking forward to her upcoming weeklong visit to her out-of-town cousins. It would be her first time visiting. She just wished her mom would move a little faster.

After driving her to the train platform, Megan's mother lifted the heavy suitcase out of the trunk and gave it to her.

"Okay, Mom - bye." The girl grabbed the suitcase and started rolling it toward the waiting train.

"Megan, didn't you forget something?" her mother asked with a tired smile.

"What do you mean?" The girl turned and shrugged. "I've got the all the stuff you packed me - the food you made me, the money and the train tickets you gave me and I'm wearing the new outfit you bought me. What could I have possibly forgetten?"

"To say thank you?"

"Oh, yeah ... thanks," she mumbled and scrambled toward the train.

After a long train ride, she got to her cousins' house.

"I'm so glad you came!" said her cousin, Jenny, with a friendly hug. "Come with me, I'll show you where you're sleeping."

"This is where me and my sisters sleep," Jenny said, stopping in front of a small room, lined with bunk beds and about half the size of Megan's spacious private bedroom at home. "Isn't it cozy?"

"I suppose so," Megan sniffed. "And where's my room?"

Jenny laughed as if Megan had made a hilarious joke. "Right here, silly," she said, pointing to a bed in the corner. "We gave you the best one - it hardly wobbles at all."

The next morning, Meagan woke up tired. It wasn't a surprise since she'd hardly been able to sleep in a room full of so many people breathing and her 'wobble-free' bed had rocked as if it was a ship at sea. Still, she must have slept some, because when she opened her eyes, Jenny and her other cousins were all already up and dressed.

Meagan looked up at her cousin, Jenny, who was just finishing neatly tucking in the corners of her bed sheets. Megan couldn't remember the last time she'd made her own bed. It was always the house cleaner or her Mom.

"Jenny," she said, "I'm really hungry. Are we going to have breakfast now?"

"Sure!" the girl smiled brightly. "Come with me."

Meagan followed her to the kitchen, sat down at the big, round table and folded her arms to wait for breakfast, vaguely wondering why all her cousins were scurrying about.

"Hey, I thought you said you were hungry?" Jenny asked.

"I am." Megan said. "Do you think it will be long?"

"What will be long?"

"Before we eat," she said.

"Well that depends how long it will be before you stand up and start making yourself something," Jenny smiled "It's, you know, self-serve around here. You want me to show you how to use the toaster-oven?"

Megan spent a week unlike any she'd ever experienced before in her whole life. She not only learned how to make toast, but also scramble eggs, wash dishes by hand and even mop a floor. It wasn't easy and she would never have dreamed of doing any of these things at home, but somehow here, where everyone was doing it, it seemed normal and almost … fun. She wasn't sure she wanted to be more like that when she got home - but, surprisingly, she wasn't sure she didn't, either.

* * *

"Next stop, city station!" the conductor's voice crackled over the loudspeaker. Megan grabbed her suitcase - which she'd packed herself, and hurried down the platform to meet her waving mother.

"Thank you SO much for coming to get me, Mom!" were her first words.

Her mom looked happily surprised, but Meagan knew that those words, and feelings of appreciation for all her parents did for her, would not be the last ones to leave her lips that day - or from now on.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Megan feel at first about the things her mom did for her?
A. She felt like it was coming to her.

Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt grateful.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Megan learned from her trip?
A. She'd had an attitude that things were coming to her and if anything she expected more. But spending a week around people who weren't spoiled made her consider that nobody had to do things for her - and if they did, she should appreciate it.

Q. How should a person feel if his parents don't do everything for him or give him everything he wants?
A. He should be grateful. That means they aren't spoiling him and are giving him the tools to live a happy, independent life.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do you think a spoiled person will have a happy life? Why or why not?
A. Very unlikely. The nature of life is that sometimes things go the way we'd like them to and sometimes they don't. A spoiled person lives with the fantasy that he deserves whatever he wants all of the time. When things don't work out that way, he is in for a big letdown.

Q. Can a person have a lot of things and not be spoiled?
A. Absolutely. Being spoiled isn't a function of what we do or don't have. It's an attitude that we deserve things … just because. A person can have a lot, but as long as she appreciates it and those who gave it to her - she isn't spoiled.


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Published: August 10, 2008

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