Take Care Not To Scare
Scaring people hurts them. The men that Moses sent to scout out the Land of Israel, in this week's Torah portion, came back with an unnecessarily scary report that made the people panic, with disastrous results. We should always take care - not to scare.
In our story, a kid discovers that giving a fright isn't right.
"Good night, guys," Steve and Teddy's mom smiled as she turned off the light in their camping-cottage bedroom. "Rest well, because we have a big day tomorrow."
The guys, excited on the first night of their vacation at the woodland lake, were just settling down, when Steve leaned over toward his younger brother, and with a gleam in his eye, whispered...."You know, these woods are crawling with big grizzly bears."
Teddy, who had nearly fallen asleep, shot up in his bed like a jumping-jack, beads of sweat dotting his forehead. "Grizzly bears? They can't get us, can they?"
Steve shook his head with a serious look. "I kinda doubt it. I mean, they could easily bust through the windows - but the wild men who run around the forest all night would probably scare them away first."
"W...wild men!!!" Teddy stammered. "Outside, here?"
Steve nodded knowingly and was about to describe them in all their gory detail, when Teddy yelled out..."MOMMMMMY!!!!!"
Their mom came running in from the next room.
"What's the matter?"
"I wanna go home! Steve's scaring me!!!" he said, shivering, while the older boy unsuccessfully tried to hold back a giggle.
As Teddy repeated his brother's words, their mom glared at Steve and shook her head. "Now, now. None of that is true," she assured Teddy, who was clinging to her nightgown. "There aren't any grizzly bears in this part of the country and no men are outside except for the campground security staff, who are keeping everyone safe." She turned to Steve. "Now, stop scaring your brother and both of you go back to bed."
But Teddy, still frightened and hopping up and down, wouldn't let go.
"Please! Let me sleep in your room, Mommy! I'm too scared. Pleease!"
Realizing that nobody would be getting any sleep that night unless she agreed, their mother nodded, took Teddy's hand, and led him out of the room past his laughing older brother.
By himself and bored, Steve decided to go to sleep.
Steve sat up. What was that?
It was a gruff, scratchy noise.
Now it's getting louder. RUGHAUGH! Sounds like a bear - maybe even a grizzly! RUGHAUGH... RUGHAUGH... Or is it a person? A...wild man?!
...Meanwhile, in the next room, their mother was telling Teddy a bedtime story...
"...and they lived happily ever after." Suddenly the door burst open and Steve came rushing in.
"M...M...Mom! There really is something outside! It's maybe a..." RUGHAUGH! RUGHAUGH!
Steve jumped, and the noise was twice as loud as it had been in his room.
"That's it! That's the noise!!! It's the bear...or a..."
He noticed that his mother didn't look the least bit concerned. Even his little brother was smiling!
"Steve, relax," she said "That's no bear. It's only the squeaky old washing machine I just turned on so you guys will have clean bathing suits for tomorrow."
Steve felt his heart that had been beating a mile-a-minute slowly go back to normal. Wow, getting scared is no fun! he thought. That means it's not fun or right to do that to Teddy - or anyone else.
Q. How did Steve feel at first about scaring his brother?
A. He thought it was okay and funny.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how upset he was when he was scared and realized that he shouldn't do that to others.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Steve learned that night?
A. He'd thought it was fun to get his brother scared, until he got scared himself and realized how scaring people hurts them.
Q. What can a person do to feel less scared?
A. One thing is to remember that God is always with us and can protect us from anything.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What exactly is wrong with frightening people?
A. Causing people fear, not only damages their physical and emotional health, but can also cause them to act in a harmful and reckless way. We are in this world to be kind to and help others and certainly not the opposite.
Q. What do you think it means to have 'fear of God'?
A. It certainly doesn't mean being afraid in the way one would of someone mean or dangerous, as God is the absolute most kind and loving being in existence. It means that we understand how important and beneficial it is to us to have a close spiritual connection to God and being afraid of acting in any way that could weaken or distance that connection.