Chayei Sarah(Genesis 23:1-25:18)
Being reliable when helping others is a positive trait. In this week's Torah portion, Abraham asks his reliable servant, Eliezer, to help him find a wife for his son. Eliezer gives it his all to do what he said he would and we can learn from him the trait of being reliable when we're asked or volunteer to help.
In our story, a kid has to decide whether to make the 'reliable' choice.
Amy was playing hopscotch with her friend, Jill, on the sidewalk in front of their condo, when she noticed one of her neighbors, Mrs. Kaye, coming out from her front door with her baby stroller. She was dialing her cell phone with a worried look on her face.
Mrs. Kaye caught sight of them and approached them.
"Amy, I really hate to bother you, but I'm a little stuck. You see, the baby's come down with a fever and I have to take him to the doctor right away. But Joey's due home from kindergarten soon and he'll get really scared if I'm not at home to meet him. I called my husband and he should be here in time, but just in case ... can you keep an eye out and if Joey gets here first, just bring him into the house? I'll leave the door unlocked - give him a snack, help yourself, too, and watch him until my husband arrives?"
Amy was friendly with the Kaye's, and the woman clearly need her help.
"Sure. No problem," she said, "You can count on me."
"I can't thank you enough!" Mrs. Kaye smiled, obviously relieved, as she rushed to her car and drove off.
The girls slipped back into their game, then, a moment later, a bubbly group of kids from the neighborhood walked by, chatting loudly and holding some posters and flags.
"Hey, what's going on?" Jill shouted their way.
"Don't you know?" one yelled back "The new 'I Scream' gourmet ice-cream company truck is starting its rounds today. Any kid who's there when it stops at the corner and says 'I scream for ice-cream' gets one free!"
"Cool!" Jill shouted.
"Cool as ice-cream!" the kid yelled back, laughing. "But you guys better come right now, 'cuz the truck's due any minute."
"What are we waiting for?" Jill jumped up "Let's go!"
Amy started after her, then stopped. Jill looked at her.
"What's the matter, Amy?"
"I told Mrs. Kaye I'd stay here in case her son comes home."
"Oh, that?" Jill said, waving her hand like she was swatting a fly. "Forget it. When you told her that, you didn't know there was going to be an ice-cream blow out. Besides, she said her husband was supposed to be home in time anyway. Let's go!"
Amy was tempted. Jill's arguments made sense, especially when she could already taste the free ice cream melting in her mouth. But then again, she had agreed to stick around...
"I can't." Amy said, shaking her head. "I really wanna come, but I said I would stay."
Jill threw her hair back and laughed. "Okay, your choice. I'll let you know how it tasted."
Amy watched her friend run to catch up with the group of kids and wondered if she'd made the right decision. Maybe Mr. Kaye would get here soon and she'd still be able to make it. But as the minutes passed, that hope melted away like ice cream.
She was in the middle of her thoughts when she heard a distressed yell from her neighbor's door.
"Mommy? Mommy! Where are you?!"
Joey had come home. Good thing she stuck to her word and stuck around! Amy rushed to meet the boy inside his house.
"Don't worry, Joey. Your mom had to go out, but your daddy will be home soon."
The boy, who knew Amy, calmed right down.
"How about a little snack? What do you like to eat?"
"I want this!" he said, climbing on the counter like a monkey, opening the freezer and pulling out a box of 'I Scream' gourmet ice cream bars.
How about that, Amy thought to herself between licks. I did the right thing and got my 'just desserts' too.
Q. How did Amy feel when she heard about the free ice cream truck?
A. She really wanted to get some, but since she said she'd stay and watch for the little boy, she didn't go.
Q. How did she feel at the end of the story?
A. She was glad she'd been reliable and stayed.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from the story?
A. Things can come up that can tempt us not to act reliably and stick to things we've agreed to do, but being reliable and following though on our commitments is a very positive way to be.
Q. Do you think Amy would have been justified to have listened to Jill's reasoning and gone with her?
A. While what Jill said may have been partially true, it wouldn't justify Amy ducking out of her commitment to help.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Why is it a positive spiritual value to be reliable?
A. The spiritual essence of a person is his or her character. That is, what value choices do we make, especially when we're on the spot? Being reliable means we take our word and ourselves seriously, which is a cornerstone of a spiritual and fulfilling life.
Q. Is there ever a value that overrides reliability?
A. While being reliable - following through to what we've committed to - is a virtue, it must exist in context. That is, if we've committed to do something that we come to realize is negative and harmful to ourselves or others, it is certainly the ethical choice to back out.