Just What We Need
Sometimes it pays to give up something good now, for something great later. Yom Kippur is a day like that. On Yom Kippur, in order to get the pleasure of feeling closer to God for a whole year, people fast on this holiest of days - giving up a day of eating. Yom Kippur teaches us the power of being willing to give up something we want for something we want even more.
In our story, some kids discover that sometimes it pays not to take right away.
"Look what I got!" Toni waved a paper accordion fan in front of her sister Janet's face, causing her bangs to blow. "It only cost two carnival-prize tickets," she bragged. "Wanna get one too?"
Janet shook her head. "No, thanks."
"Hey, look at this!" Their brother, Brian, came prancing by - at least that's who they thought it was from his voice, since his head was hidden behind a gigantic, powder-blue cotton candy. "Only cost me three prize tickets!"
"Really?" Toni squealed, pulling some of the tickets she'd won at the carnival game booths from her pocket. "I want one of those, too! How 'bout you, Janet?"
"That's okay - I'll pass," she said.
"Hey, what's with you?" Brian griped. "You haven't bought one thing yet from all the game prize tickets we've been winning since we got to this carnival. Toni and I've been getting all this great stuff. Don't you want to have fun?"
"Sure, I'm just saving them up 'til the end, that's all," Janet shrugged.
"That's boooooooring!" Brian snorted. "C'mon, Toni, let's go spend some more tickets. There's a booth over there where you can trade 'em for a fly in a plastic ice-cube!"
"Yuck! Not for me," she said. "But I do want to get some of those fuzzy stickers and more bubble gum. Then we can play more games and win more tickets. See 'ya later, Janet," she waved as the two scrambled off. "Have fun ... oh I forgot, you don't like to have fun!"
Janet watched them go off to get their prizes as she counted her prize tickets. She just needed five more...
A while later the three of them made their way to the carnival exit.
"My stomach hurts from all that junk," Brian said.
"Yeah, mine too," Toni said. "And, I'm hot!"
"Why don't you cool yourself off with your paper fan?" he asked her.
"Ach, that thing fell apart an hour ago - like all the stuff I got."
"I know what you mean." Brian said. "But even if it broke, at least we got some stuff, not like Jane ... hey where is Janet, anyway?" he asked, noticing she'd slipped off.
"Over here, guys!" Janet called out. They looked over and saw her strolling their way, holding a huge, really cool looking stuffed panda almost as big as she was.
"Wow!" both Toni and Brian said at once. "Where ... how ... in the world did you ever get that?"
"I just went over to the major-prize booth and gave them all my carnival game tickets I'd saved up, that's all."
"This is sooo nice!" Toni cooed as she stroked the panda's gleaming fur.
"Yeah, amazing!" Brian admitted. "You're walking out with that and all we got for our prize tickets was some junk that broke and a stomach ache! You know what, Toni?" he turned to her and said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, I know what," she answered. "Sometimes it's more fun not to have fun right away."
Q. How did Janet's brother and sister feel about her at first?
A. They thought she was losing out by not cashing in her prize tickets right away.
Q. How did they feel in the end?
A. They wished they had saved their tickets like she did, when they saw what a great prize she got by waiting.
Q. What life-lesson do you think the kids learned that day?
A. Brian and Toni were convinced it was better to enjoy themselves immediately and get whatever they felt like getting right away, but they learned that by holding off and saving up for something really good, they would have done much better.
Q. How do you think Janet was able to wait and resist the temptation to spend her tickets quickly?
A. She most likely kept her mind focused on her goal of getting the big prize. When we focus on our big goals, the little distraction won't bother us.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What do you think this story has to do with Yom Kippur?
A. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish year. On it, God forgives us for all the mistakes we made the previous year and sets our course for the year to follow. One way to best make this happen is by doing as God asks us by fasting on this day if we're able. By giving up the immediate gratification of a day of eating, we gain what will prove to be a much more gratifying year.
Q. Why do you think fasting on Yom Kippur accomplishes this?
A. For one thing, it tells God we take being close to Him seriously and are willing to pay a price to achieve it. Also decreasing our physical pleasures on that day can 'remove the static' and help us tap into our spiritual selves and its much deeper pleasure.