We should try to help people be friends - not enemies. In this week's Torah portion we learn about Korach and the terrible quarrel he started against Moses. Instead of trying to prevent the quarrel, people close to Korach pushed him on and caused Korach and many others to lose their lives. We should try to prevent fights between others - and certainly not to cause them.
In our story, a kid discovers that stepping in between people is sometimes a step in the wrong direction.
HAVING A ROW
"Knock, knock," Cindy said as she opened the door to her younger sister Shari's camp bunk. While she had been going to Camp Lakeside for years and knew the ropes, she wanted to make sure Shari was adjusting well on her first summer away from home.
"Oh, hi, Cindy," Shari greeted her with a big smile.
"Hi. You hadn't come by during afternoon break for a couple of days, so I wanted to make sure everything was okay."
"Everything's great!" Shari beamed. "I really like this camp and the best part about it is my new best friend, Karen. We spend the break time together. Actually I'm on my way to meet her now."
"That's good," said Cindy. "Karen stays here in this bunk with you?"
"Sure. She's sleeps right in this bed," Shari said, pointing to the bunk bed over her own. "And this is her locker, right under mine."
"Hmm," sniffed Cindy. "How come she got both the better bed and the better locker?"
"What do you mean?" Shari asked.
"Everyone knows that the top bunks are better, because no one climbs over you and that the lower lockers are better, 'cuz you don't have to stand on a chair to reach them. You should make her trade with you one or the other!"
"Oh," said Shari, her face falling. "Well anyway, it's no big deal. Karen and I have a great time together. Every day after breakfast I sign us out a rowboat to use during break. I'm going to the lake to meet her there now," she said, grabbing a box of cookies out of her locker, which suddenly did seem hard to reach.
Cindy shook her head. "That's not fair. Why should you always be the one to have to wait in line to sign up? Everyone knows it's a big hassle. You should tell Karen to do it half the time. And I hope she brings snack for you to share also and not just you."
"Yeah, sure ... I guess," Shari shrugged. "I never even paid attention, but from now on I sure will. Well, I've guess I've got to run now," Shari said, not nearly as smiley as she had been when her sister first walked in.
The next day, Cindy was talking with a couple of her friends during afternoon break when Shari walked over, head hanging down.
"Hey, this is a surprise," she said. "I didn't expect to see you this time of day."
"I'm bored - and homesick," the younger girl sighed.
"Really? But when I saw you yesterday you seemed so up. Aren't you spending break time with your friend, Karen?"
Shari grimaced. "She's not my friend anymore."
"Why? What happened?"
"I dunno. I just told her all those things you told me to and we got into a big fight," she sniffled, "we don't even talk to each other now."
As Cindy hugged her crying sister's head, she felt like crying herself, over her thoughtless words that had turned friends into enemies.
Q. How did Shari feel at first about her friend, Karen?
A. She was happy being friends and had no reason to fight with her.
Q. How did she feel after Cindy spoke to her?
A. Cindy had convinced her to be mad at her friend and feel like things weren't fair.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. Cindy thought she was doing her younger sister a favor by pointing out things she should be upset with about her friend, but all it did was start a quarrel and cause her sister to lose a friend.
Q. Is there ever a time that it's right to try to break up friends?
A. If we see that someone is genuinely dangerous to a person or his values, it might be worth stepping in. Otherwise we should mind our own business.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think Cindy was correct in her claims?
A. It could very well be that objectively her sister's friend had the better end of the deal. However, that didn't justify Cindy sowing seeds of dissension between them, as the unfortunate result demonstrated.
Q. Our sages teach that if your friend shows you a new, nonrefundable purchase and you know he overpaid, you shouldn't tell him, rather you should tell him what a good deal he got. Why do you think that is?
A. If this person feels cheated he will at the very least have animosity against the seller, if not seek revenge. Making and keeping peace is a great value and sometimes more important than revealing the cold facts - true or not.