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Ki Tisa(Exodus 30:11-34:35)

Hitting a High Note


Prayer is more than just a nice thing to do -- it really works! In this week's Torah portion, we see how Moses' sincere prayers saved the people from a terrible calamity. We, too, can improve our lives by tapping into the power of prayer.

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In our story, a kid discovers a new road to success.

HITTING A HIGH NOTE

"It's impossible!" Debby sighed as she placed the shiny, gold instrument listlessly on her lap. Why hadn't she chosen to learn the drums...or the bagpipes...or the ukulele...or any other musical instrument other than this dumb trombone?

She knew the answer herself -- it was because she just loved its rich, brassy sound and how cool it looked during a parade, when the trombonist would confidently pump its slide as she marched.

Her dream was to one day be that parade trombonist, and her parents had generously bought her a trombone and paid for music lessons to help her realize that dream. But now it seemed the dream was turning into a nightmare, because she just couldn't figure out how to make it play a single note!

It wasn't for lack of trying. She'd holed herself up in her room for more than two hours -- longer than she even spent studying for some mid-terms. She'd tried everything: cleaning the mouthpiece, oiling the slide with the special lubricating oil they'd given her -- but no go.

"Okay...one more time," she gamely told herself. She picked up the instrument and tried to remember her teacher's instruction...blow like you're spitting out a watermelon seed. Was it her fault that her mom always bought them seedless watermelons, so she had no idea what her teacher was talking about?

Debby puffed her cheeks and puckered her lips. This was going to be it -- a rich, beautiful 'D' note or maybe a soaring 'A' minor. 1-2-3... she blew... PHUFFFFFFFFF... Nothing but air! Again!!!

"Deb? What's that hissing noise? Is the radiator in your room leaking or something?" her brother, Jay swaggered in, without knocking, as usual.

"Ha, ha, ha...hilarious!" she snorted. "I'm about to lose my mind and you're making jokes. I'm never going to figure out how to play this thing and that's it!"

"Well, as they say, practice makes perfect, Deb," Jay said, genuinely moved by his sister's sadness."Yeah, I thought so, too. But I'm practicing myself blue in the face and the more I practice, the worse it sounds!"

"Well then, that means there's only one thing left to do—pray!"

"Good one!"

"No, I'm not joking this time," Jay said, "Praying really helps. I didn't think so either at first, but then once I went out to the middle of the skating pond and realized the ice was too thin and was starting to crack..."

"Wow, you never told me about that!" Debby said, wide eyed.

"I didn't tell Mom, either, shhh!" he held his finger to his lips, "But anyway, the point is that -- boy did I ever pray then. And you know what? God really listened. Suddenly I just seemed to be able to see which ice was thick enough to get safely back to the shore! Since then, I've been praying about a lot of things—and you know what? It works!"

"That's a nice story, Jay and I'm glad you didn't turn into a giant ice cube. But it has nothing to do with me figuring out how to play the trombone. Like you said, it's all about hard work and practice. Speaking of which, as much as I enjoy your company...will you please get lost so I can practice some more?"

"Have it your way, Debs. Just when the radiator repairman comes by, don't blame me." Jay walked out of the room and Debby grabbed the instrument once again and tried to blow...

PHUFFFF...

PHUFFFFFFFFF...

Almost in tears now, the girl threw up her hands. She really had nothing to lose...
"Okay, God. If You can hear me. This is Debby calling. I guess you know how much I really want to learn how to play the trombone. And I guess You also know awful it's going for me. Help!!"

Well, she'd done it. Let's see if it worked. She picked up the trombone and was about to blow, when she felt an eyelash hair or something stuck in her mouth.

Since her hands were full, she just curled her tongue and gently spit-blew it out. Hey... she thought. Maybe that's what the teacher meant about spitting out a watermelon seed?

She lifted the mouthpiece to her lips.

TRRAAAAAAAAWWWWW!!!

Wow! She actually did it! She'd actually played a musical note!

Psyched like anything, Debby was able to do all the exercises her teacher had assigned. She had a long way to go before joining the marching band, but Debby now knew one thing for sure; practice—and prayer!—made perfect.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Debby feel at first when her brother said she should pray?
A. She didn't think it would help.

Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt that praying had helped her to succeed


Ages 6-9

Q.What life-lesson do you think Debby learned that day?
A. She was a hard-working kid, with clear goals. But she discovered that turning to G-d in prayer was a key ingredient to success.

Q. Why do you think she was skeptical when Jay first suggested the idea?
A. Praying is something spiritual and not something we can measure with an instrument see with our eyes. Yet, as Debby found out, it is something very real and very powerful and by connecting to prayer we can improve our lives.


Spiritual exercise: Think of something that would make your life better and pray to G-d to help it happen.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. In your opinion, if Debby hadn't figured out how to play the trombone that day, would that mean her prayer had been for nothing?
A. . Prayer is much more than a celestial shopping list. Prayer is an intimate, personal connection to G-d. When what we ask for is for our ultimate good, G-d will grant it to us at the best possible time—sometimes sooner, sometimes later. When what we pray for, really isn't in our ultimate best interests, even if we feel it is, sometimes G-d will do us the favor of saying 'no' and using our prayer-power to help us and the world in some other way. But never is a sincere prayer 'wasted.'

Q. Does a person need to pray only in a house of worship, with a special prayer book, etc?
A. While that type of prayer can be quite powerful, it is not the only way. Jewish tradition teaches that G-d hears and loves our personal prayers at virtually any time, in any place, and in any language we feel comfortable speaking.

Spiritual exercise: Think of something that would make your life better and pray to G-d to help it happen.


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Published: March 7, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Anonymous, March 11, 2009 9:26 AM

excellent

This story hit the spot!!! I am learning to play the harp - sometimes its good, sometimes not so good - but thank you for the reminder - PRAYER!!! Wonderful to know that G-d cares about these things in our lives and that He answers!!!!

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