Family Parsha Parshat Shoftim: Just Your Fair Share
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Shoftim(Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

Just Your Fair Share


It's only fair to take just our fair share - and no more. In this week's portion (Deut. 19:14) the Torah teaches us not to try to grab extra land away from our neighbors. The Torah way is not be greedy and grab more than is coming to us.

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In our story, a kid grapples with grabbing.

UP FOR GRABS

The guys stampeded into the lunchroom like a herd of charging bulls. Who could blame them? They'd just spent the whole morning running, jumping, swimming, roughhousing and all the other hunger-building things that kids at camp do.

"Hey, Bill, pass the chicken, will ya, before it's all gone?" Greg called out, frantically pointing to the serving platter at the other end of the table.

"Just a second - we've gotta take too, you know. Besides, what are you worried about? There's exactly enough portions for everyone."

"Yeah, yeah, but just hurry, okay?"

Whether the guys hurried or not, it seemed to Greg like about a century had passed before the platter finally made its way down to him. He was surprised to see that although he was sitting at the very end of the table there were still two pieces of chicken left on the platter. It was his lucky day.

He forked the first piece and was about to scoop the second when he felt an elbow poke his side.

"Cut it out!" he yelped, swinging around to see his pal, Robert, giving him a dirty look.

"You can't take two," he said in his matter-of-fact, scientific voice.

"Mind your own business," Greg snarled. "Anyway, as you can clearly see - it's extra."

"It is not. Ralph didn't get his yet."

Greg scanned the table with a scowl. "What are you talking about? Ralph isn't even here..."

"Yet," Robert said. "You know him. He hates being sweaty. He's probably showering before coming to eat. He'll be here any second."

"Nah!" Greg waved the idea - which made more sense than he wanted to admit - away with his hand. "I'm sure he just skipped lunch to be able to practice that flute of his."

"It's a clarinet."

"Whatever. Anyway, the point is that he's not here and I'm hungry." Without another word, Greg forked the second piece of chicken and had them both safely in his stomach just in time to...

...see a freshly-showered Ralph walk in the door.

Greg felt bad, but didn't want to stick around for the scene so he slurped down his Jell-O and slinked out the side door.

Poking his head up to the screen, he watched Ralph sit down at their regular assigned table, eye the now-empty platter and walk over to the serving station. The cross-armed server shook his head and Ralph - not the type to argue - walked back to the table with his head held low. Almost as low as Greg felt right now...

 

* * *

 

Meanwhile, Greg ran back to his bunk to his extra-special nosh treasure chest that his mom surprised him with on visiting day. He grabbed a package and ran back to the dining room.

Sill panting from the sprint, he spotted Ralph walking out the door. "How's it going, Ralph?" he asked the boy who'd just walked out through the door.

"Hmm? Okay, I guess," he said with a shrug and walked on.

"Um, Ralph, didn't you once mention you're into chocolate-chip cookies?"

"I did?"

"Well, yeah ... I think so ... you must have. Anyway, who doesn't like them? Listen, I just cracked open this bag of Gourmet Choco-Chunkies and they're so good I just had to share them with the first kid I saw - and guess who that is?"

"Really? Thanks!" Ralph said, his hungry eyes shooting open nearly as wide as the cookies.

"Yeah, dig in," Greg offered. It was a high price to pay - but as the cookie bag got smaller, Greg felt bigger - and better about himself.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Greg feel at first about taking the extra portion?
A. He was hungry and he didn't care that it might be someone else's.

Q. How did he feel afterwards?
A. He saw that the other kid really did come and he felt bad that he caused him to miss out on eating.

 

Ages 6-9

Q. What life lesson do you think Greg learned?
A. When people grab more than their fair share they are only thinking about themselves. When Greg saw how his greediness impacted someone else, it made him regret it and try to make amends.

Q. Do you think that, by unfair grabbing, a person can get more than he otherwise would?
A. While it might look that way on the surface, really God determines what each person is entitled to and if someone uses unfair or dishonest means to grab more, eventually he will lose whatever he gained, some other way.

 

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do you think a person comes closer to God through giving or taking? Why?
A. Coming close to God isn't about physical proximity, since God is already everywhere. It's about spiritual proximity, which is achieved by becoming more 'similar' to God, or Godly. Since God is the ultimate giver (and doesn't 'take' anything, since everything is already God's, when we give, we become more similar to God and therefore closer.

Q. How can a person not be 'grabby' when everyone around him is unfairly grabbing?
A. It's a challenge. But if we remember that only God determines what's coming to us and He wants us to behave honestly, we can trust in God and know that ultimately we will only gain by being honest and fair.

 

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Published: August 16, 2009

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