What if temptation gets the best of someone and he takes something that's not his? This week's Torah portion (5:23-26) tells us that if this happens the way to handle it is to admit it, make amends and then feel good about doing the right thing.
In our story, a kid takes a wrong turn and then finds her way.
Danni didn't know if heaven had a smell, but if it did, it would probably smell like the PTA charity bake sale going on today in her school. She had a sweet tooth to begin with and the fresh-baked aroma of cookies, cakes and confections of every kind was making her mouth water like Niagara Falls.
As she walked on her way to class through the scrumptious rows of eclairs, biscotti, strudels and pies, Danni tried not to look. Not because she was on a diet - she was one of those kids everyone was jealous of, who could eat all the sweets she wanted and never gain weight - but because she was saving up all her money to buy a new iPod.
She'd almost made it, when the most gorgeous cupcakes she'd ever laid eyes on were staring her right in the face. Each, dipped in white chocolate, was topped by a delicate, life-like marzipan rose.
Danni didn't know what to do. They looked so irresistibly yummy ... but they cost a whole dollar each and she just couldn't let herself spend the money she was trying to save. Hmm, the lady selling them was way on the other side of the booth helping another customer...
Wow that was good, Danni thought to herself, licking her lips. And it didn't even cost me a cent of my savings. No one had seen her take it, she was sure the school would still make plenty of money without that one cupcake and as far as getting caught - she had already eaten the evidence!
She looked at her watch. Oops, late for gym class. As she hurried down the hall, Danni tried not to think about what she had just done or about the knot it was putting in her stomach.
But by the time she got to the gym, Danni couldn't ignore either. How could I have done that? How could I have just stolen that cupcake - and from charity, no less?
The guilt pains in her stomach had turned into a full-blown stomach ache that hurt so much that the athletic girl had to sit on the sidelines for the first time that year.
Gym class finally ended, but Danni's dilemma didn't. I can't put the cupcake back - I already ate it. Yet, it will be so embarrassing to go back and admit what I did.
She started walking ... Oow! She gripped her side. That settled it, no matter how much admitting it was going to hurt her pride, not admitting it was hurting her conscience - and stomach - more...
Standing a few feet away from the booth, Danni waited until there were no customers around. Then she made her move.
"I'm so sorry ... they just looked so good I took one ... I was wrong ... here," she sputtered in a jumble of words and handed the lady a dollar. Whew!
She started to run off ... "Wait!" the cupcake lady called out.
Danni froze. She was sure the woman was about to give her a big lecture about being a thief or maybe even call the police. Slowly she turned around, expecting anything other than the sweet smile she saw on the lady's face.
"You know what you did took a lot of guts," she said. Danni looked confused as the woman went on, "I don't mean taking what wasn't yours - I mean coming back here, admitting and paying for it."
Danni blushed, but felt good too.
"I happen to have a cupcake that got a little squished in the box. It tastes perfectly fine but I can't sell it." The woman held up the cake. "I'd like to give it to you as an 'honesty award'," she winked, "if you're hungry, that is."
"Wow, thanks. Actually I am starving," Danni said, gratefully. "I had a stomach ache until a minute ago, but now ... thanks to you, she thought ... I'm feeling much better."
Q. How did Danni feel at first about taking the cupcake?
A. She felt it was okay and then regretted it.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. Though it was hard, she was glad that she'd done the right thing and went back and paid for it.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from what happened?
A. In moments of temptation - like Danni had with the cupcake - we can do something that we normally wouldn't. If that happens, the thing to do is to face it with regret - try our best to make amends - and then feel good about ourselves for doing what was right.
Q. Why do you think doing the right thing makes us feel good?
A. Each of us, deep down, has and is a pure soul that wants to do good. However, we can get confused and distracted by life and mess up. When we do what's right, either in the first place or making amends for a mess-up, we get in touch with that soul part of us and that feels very good.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. In your opinion, should a person should be held responsible for something negative he did in a moment of temptation?
A. While it is certainly not as bad as if he had carefully planned to do wrong, still a person has to take responsibility for everything he does.
Q. Do you think it is ethical to steal from the rich in order to give to the poor? Why or why not?
A. While such an act may come from a genuine sense of injustice, nevertheless it is still stealing and thus, wrong. Better to work to bring justice in a positive way and trust that God can provide for everyone honestly.