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Bamidbar(Numbers 1:1-4:20)

Bigger Isnt Always Better


Bigger isn't always better. When God gave us the Torah -- which we celebrate on the upcoming Shavuot holiday -- He could have chosen to give it on one of the world's tallest mountains. Instead, He chose the relatively small Mt. Sinai as the scene of the greatest event in history. One lesson we can learn from this is not to judge things, or ourselves, by outer appearances and to remember that sometimes less is really more.

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In our story a small kid has a big moment.

BIRD'S EYE VIEW

"Hey, squirt, you expect us to wait for you all day?" Ed snarled down at Alan from the plateau at the top of the trail as the boy struggled to catch up.

Moving his short, skinny legs as fast as he could, Alan got to there just in time to see Ed about to put the fancy, high-powered binoculars he'd borrowed from the head counselor back into his backpack.

"Hey, give me a turn," Alan said.

"What's it going to help you?" Ed snarked. "This ridge is too high for a runt like you to look over."

Alan had to admit that the kid was right. He sighed as Ed put the binoculars away.

"Incredible view, huh guys?" Ed, the tallest and strongest boy in the group, asked. All the kids -- except for Alan -- nodded.

Alan sighed. It's so not fair, he thought, why are all the other kids my age in camp so much bigger and taller than I am?

"Hey, look at that up there!" one of the guys exclaimed, pointing to a big, droopy nest, high up in a tree.

"That's an eagle's nest," Ed declared with his usual certainty. "I bet there's a mother and baby eagles in there. If we hike further up the trail and look over the next ridge, we'll be able to see them and with these binoculars, we'll be able look those eagles right in the eye! Let's go, guys!"

As he and the rest of the long-legged kids began to march, Ed looked back at Alan with a mean grin. "Too bad you're probably going to miss out on that view too, pipsqueak. But don't worry, I'll tell you all about it -- when you finally show up last."

Although Alan was determined to keep up this time and prove Ed wrong, his short, not-so-strong legs just wouldn't cooperate and he soon fell far behind.

I always miss out on everything, he thought as he chugged along. Why do I have to be the way I am?

Finally, Alan made it to the top. He expected to see the guys jumping around all happy and excited, gloating about the great view he'd either just missed or was too high for him too see. But instead, they all looked dejected and upset --especially Ed.

"Sorry, Ed," Alan overheard Rich say. "I tried, but I just can't reach them. When the binoculars slipped out of your pack, they got wedged in a crevice between those two boulders and I just can't squeeze myself down into there and get them. And if I can't fit, a big guy like you certainly can't. What are you going to do?"

"I don't know," Ed said, his voice sounding much less self-assured than usual. "Those binoculars cost a fortune and the counselor said I was personally responsible to return them..."

In the meantime, without anyone noticing him, Alan slipped away and got to work. Okay, if I just squeeze a bit more this way and then twist like this...

"...Maybe the counselor's going to make me wash dishes all summer to pay for them or maybe he'll call my father and then I'm really..."

"Looking for these?" Alan asked with a wide smile, holding the binoculars in his hand.

Ed's eyes grew wide in disbelief. "What?...How?...Wow! You saved my life!" he said as he took the binoculars.

The whole group, smiling and laughing, patted Alan on the back.

"Okay. Let's finally check out those eagles!" Ed said. "You're first in line, Alan, buddy."

As Alan looked through the lenses, it occurred to him that maybe being small wasn't such a big deal after all!

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Alan feel at first about being smaller than his peers?
A. He wished he was more like them.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how being how he was, was also good and he could do things the others couldn't.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Alan learned that day?
A. He'd thought that the way he was, was somehow ‘wrong' or inferior to his friends, but he came to see that he, too had some advantages that his friends didn't.

Q. How can the lesson of this story help a person feel good about themselves?
A. Like Alan, we all have things about ourselves we might wish were different. But if we remember that God made each of us in the way that's best for us and discover the good points about who we are, we will live a happy life.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What advantage do you thing there could be in having a disadvantage?
A. Someone with a disadvantage learns to try harder than someone without. Also, such a person develops humility. These are two huge and powerful life tools.

Q. Likewise, what disadvantage do you thing there could be in having an advantage?
A. It could easily lead someone to become lackadaisical, take things for granted as well as look down on others. The point is—advantage or not—we should try to make the most of whatever situation God's given us.

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Published: May 16, 2009

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