Getting off to a good start is one of the secrets of success. In this week's Torah portion we learn about the special inauguration ceremony that the people made when they first started to use the Holy Tabernacle, to make sure things got off to a good start. So too in life, when we make a little extra effort at the beginning of something we do, we'll see how much smoother the rest of it will go.
In our story, a kid finds out that the way we begin things can have a lot to do with how they end up.
Beep...beep...beep...beep.With a swing of his arm, Andy reached over his pillow across his night stand and hit the alarm clock snooze-button dead center. Okay that was four...one more to go.
He had it down to a routine. He'd hit the snooze alarm for at least the first five alarms, then, hopefully get up. Usually he'd end up dashing out of bed at the very last minute, leaving just enough time to dress, grab the lunch his mom would pack and leave for him the night before and burst out the front door to sprint to the bus stop just in time to catch the school bus. Why get up any earlier than he absolutely had to?
Of course, sometimes things didn't quite work out that way -- like missing the bus, or the time that in his rush, he grabbed his older sister's biology experiment instead of his lunch. Boy did he gross out his friends that day!
Beep...beep...beep. That's snooze alarm number five. Andy slowly dragged himself out of bed.
Okay, time to make the mad dash. He threw on the first clothes he found on the floor and flew out into the hallway.
Hey, why was the house so quiet? Even his ‘Priscilla Punctual' sister was still fast asleep.
Andy looked at the wall clock in the hall and groaned. Of course! Last night they turned back the clocks and he'd forgotten to reset his alarm clock! It was an hour earlier than he thought.
What a disaster! He'd blown a whole extra hour of sleep!
At first, Andy considered crawling back into bed. But there was no point. If anything was harder for him to do than wake up in the morning, it was to fall asleep once he was up.
With no choice, the boy slowly moseyed down stairs.
He never ate breakfast -- who had time? But now there was plenty of time.
After finishing his cereal, Andy, who still had a lot of time left, looked in the mirror to make sure his clothes actually matched. After a couple of quick clothing changes, he brushed his teeth and his hair—all things he never usually had time to do in the morning.
He took his lunch box and opened the door. Seeing that it was drizzling, he went to the closet and got an umbrella. Usually he would be in too big of a rush and just dash into the rain and hope for the best. He began to run to the bus stop. Hey, I don't have to run like I always do, he thought, slowing down to a much less frantic walk...
Andy had the best day in school that he could remember in a long time.
The teacher didn't keep yelling at him to pay attention. It was easy since he ate breakfast and was actually able to concentrate and even enjoy the classes, instead of listening to his stomach growl and thinking about food. And for once the kids who always teased him about his messy hair and clothes, saying he looked like ‘something the cat dragged in,' left him alone. One kid even told him he looked good.
Andy got home and went to his room to change the time on his clock. Then he started resetting his alarm to wake him up at the same time as usual. You know, he thought; why not make it for a half-an-hour earlier? Getting his day off to a good start had made such a difference that, even for a sleep lover like him, it was worth losing some sleep over.
Q. How did Andy feel at first about getting up for school early?
A. He was upset and wished he could have slept until the last minute.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. . He felt it was worth it once he saw how much better his day went when he got off to a good start.
Q.What life-lesson do you think Andy learned that day?
A. Seeing how starting off his day in a calm, unrushed way helped him be so much more successful in school, helped him realize that getting off to a good beginning was worth making a priority.
Q. Why do you think beginnings are important?
A. In life, one thing leads to another, so by starting things on the right foot we are much more likely to be successful than if we don't.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Our sages teach that when it comes to doing something worthwhile, ‘all beginnings are difficult.' What do you think this means?
A. To begin something means that we have to overcome our initial inertia and leave our comfort zone, which is never easy to do. However, if we persevere, we'll gain one of the greatest pleasures there is—the pleasure of accomplishment.
Q. Is there anything we can do in situations when things get off on the 'wrong foot?'
A. We never have to feel stuck in a pattern due to some unfortunate earlier choice, with willingness and a little extra effort, we can always 'begin again.'