Don't Be Superstitious
There's no reason to be superstitious. In this week's Torah portion (18, 9-11) we learn that the Torah way is to live our lives with trust in God and not worry about sorcery or silly superstitions.
In our story, a kid discovers the true source of his good 'luck.'
The race was about to begin. Danny stood at the starting line and patted the pocket of his track shorts to make sure it was still there. Yup - there it was -- the lucky four-leaf clover he had found and that had brought him so much success in racing this track season.
"Go!" the track judge shouted, starting the race. Danny sprinted hard, pushing to get ahead of his opponents. A bit more than a minute later, he'd been first across the finish line. Victory! All thanks to his magic lucky charm.
"Nice race today, Danny!" his sister, Judy, smiled, as the two of them jumped into the back of their family car on the way home from the track meet. "Winning today means you get to race in the championship meet next week, right?"
"Sure does!" Danny beamed. "And I'm going to win, too - thanks to this." He patted his pocket.
"Thanks to your pocket?" Judy asked, confused.
"No, silly - what's inside." He pulled out the carefully laminated four-leaf clover that had accompanied him on every race. "It's my magic lucky charm."
Judy rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Danny. Don't tell me you actually believe in that superstitious mumbo-jumbo? You didn't win that race today - or any day - because of some little green flower. You won because you trained hard and God gave you a strong, healthy body that can run fast."
"Look, you don't have to believe me," he sniffed, stuffing the charm back into his pocket. "But I know I won because of my magic lucky charm - and it's my charm that's going to bring me the 'gold' in the championship race."
The day before the big race Judy was doing her homework while Danny was doing a training workout with weights in their basement. Suddenly, Judy heard a pain-filled cry.
"UGHH! OH NO! UGHH!!!"
Certain that Danny had injured himself terribly, she flew down the basement steps to find him on his knees, his face flushed a deep red.
"Danny! Are you okay?!! Should I call Mom? Should I call an ambulance?"
"No, no ... I'm fine," the boy waved her off. "I didn't get hurt or anything. Just while I was working out, I ... I checked my pocket to make sure my magic lucky charm was there and it's ... it's GONE! Now I'm crawling all around to see if it fell on the floor around here. I'm really desperate to find it!"
Judy's expression went from fear and concern to incredulity. "Danny, give me a break! It's just a silly, superstitious nothing and it has nothing to do with what you're going to do in the race."
"You don't understand! The championship race is tomorrow and if I don't find it, I'm sunk!"
The next day at the track meet, Danny glumly waited for his turn to race - or that is, waited to get it over with, because now without his magic lucky charm, he felt like he had no chance to win.
"Hey Danny!" He turned to the area in the crowd where his name was being called, and saw his sister, Judy waving him to come to her. Figuring he had a couple of minutes before his race and nothing to lose, he shuffled over.
"Danny I want you to remember, it's all up to you and God's help whether you're going to win today or not."
"Yeah, you told me that before, but my magic..."
"However," his sister cut him off in mid-sentence, "I imagine you'd want to put this in your pocket." She took a small laminated square out of her pouch. His charm! She'd found it!!!
"You're the greatest, Judy!" the boy beamed, as he quickly stuffed the precious charm in his pocket and jogged back to the starting line just in time for his race.
"Get set... Go!" the starter shouted. Danny flew like the wind, easily beating his opponents, logging the fastest time of his life.
"Great race, Danny. You did it!!" Judy shouted from the grandstand as her now champion-racer brother walked her way.
"Yeah, once I got my charm I became a new person. I'll bet from now on you'll believe me about it."
Judy gave him a strange smile.
"And I'll bet that from now on you'll believe me - once you look closely at your supposed charm."
"Huh?" Perplexed, Danny fished it out of his pocket, gazed at it ... and blanched. It wasn't his four-leaf clover magic lucky charm at all, it was just a small green piece of paper with the words 'In God we trust' written on it! He really didn't need the clover - or any silly magic charm at all. All he needed was to give it his all and trust God to help him out.
Danny looked at Judy, and then the two of them burst out laughing. It seemed that losing his 'lucky' charm, just might have been the luckiest thing that ever happened to him in his life.
Q. How did Danny feel at first about winning his race?
A. He felt like he needed a 'lucky charm' to win.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized that it was just a silly superstition and he didn't need it.
Q. What life-lesson did Danny learn from what happened?
A. He'd convinced himself that he needed some sort of 'magic charm' to be successful in life, but once he won the race without a charm he understood that he didn't need anything other than himself and God's help.
Q. What, if anything, is wrong with superstition and sorcery?
A. These types of things trap and confuse a person by making him think that he can somehow 'cheat' his way through life without being responsible for his own choices. They also give him the false impression that he can rely on something other than God.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Can magic charms and sorcery ever work? If so, why not use them?
A. Even if in theory they could do something (which is highly debatable), they are still very spiritually negative and ultimately will not bring a person to happiness. Acquiring something through magic or sorcery is the spiritual equivalent of stealing it with a gun. Any items or success which are truly coming to us and are for our ultimate benefit, God will give us without resorting to charms, sorcery or any similar 'spiritual robbery.'
Q. What's the difference between superstition and religious practices?
A. The religious practices of the Torah are all based on God's revealing to us how he would like us to live our lives. While it is true that these practices involve doing things on a level beyond purely physical or materialist considerations and understandings - they are entirely different from superstition, which are simply baseless practices, or sorcery, which futilely try to 'get around God' by manipulating the spiritual world that He created.