Chayei Sarah(Genesis 23:1-25:18)
Appreciate Your Mom
There's no one like Mom. This week's portion (Gen. 23:1, see Rashi) tells us of the greatness of the mother of the entire Jewish people - Sarah. By learning to appreciate her, we can learn to appreciate the great things about our own mothers too.
In our story, some kids get a new view of their mom.
"Are you sure you're going to be able to manage?" Ted, Mindy and Erica's mom asked them with a concerned look.
"Sure, Mom," Mindy said. "Piece of cake! If I'm old enough to baby-sit for other people, I can certainly take care of us. You go enjoy your Mother's Day overnight vacation."
"Yeah," Ted added. "Everything's under control. You left us instructions and beside, we're big enough that you don't do much for us anymore anyway."
Their mother blinked, then smiled.
"Not me," said little Erica, thumb-in-mouth. "I'm not big enough. I'm going to miss you!"
"Shhh!" her two older siblings said in unison as the waiting car honked its horn outside. "It's Mother's Day today. Let Mom go and have a good time. We'll give you some treats."
"Okay, bye-bye," she waved.
Their mother smiled, giving them each one last peck on the cheek before walking out the door.
A little while later, Ted walked into the kitchen, only to find Mindy and Erica already there. "It's lunch time," he announced, taking his usual seat at the kitchen table and pointing to the green and lavender clock on the wall.
"Yeah, I know," Mindy answered sheepishly.
"Well?" said Ted.
"Well, what?" she shot back.
"We always eat lunch at exactly 12 and I'm hungry."
"Me too!" said Erica.
"Me three," Mindy admitted. "But that's because Mom always makes sure there's lunch the table then. But Mom's not home - remember?"
"So what are we going to do?" Ted asked, a trace of panic in his voice.
"Not to worry. I sort of misplaced Mom's lunch instructions, so I put one of those frozen chickens in the oven almost a half an hour ago."
"I love chicken!" Erica clapped.
"Yeah ... but it's not exactly done yet," Mindy sighed, poking a fork at the oven pan. "It's actually still sorta frozen."
"We're gonna starve!" Ted called out, inciting Erica to whimper in panic.
"Calm down, both of you!" Mindy yelled. "Look," she said, pulling the first jumbo bag of snacks from the pantry she could find, "until it's done, we can all eat ... Pizza Pete's Sauce-O Chips!"
"Yay!" the kids yelled out.
But about a half an hour later, none of them were as enthusiastic - with junk food stomach aches and no real food in sight.
The rest of the afternoon was slow going, with Ted brooding about missing soccer practice, since their mom wasn't there to drive him, Mindy mad about not being able to study, since she was so busy baby-sitting, and Erica having turned the refrain 'I miss Mommy' into about 20 different tunes.
By the time it was bedtime, the kids were happy to call it a day. That was - until they tried to sleep.
"I want a story, like Mom always tells," Erica whimpered.
"I don't have any clean t-shirts for tomorrow," Ted fretted as Mindy sighed to herself, upset about not being able to have one of those heart-to-heart talks with her mother which she needed so much right now.
"You miss Mommy - right?" Ted snapped at his younger sister - although in their hearts they all agreed.
The next day, after much anticipation, their mom walked through the door and was surprised to see the house filled with colorful balloons and a big hand-lettered banner saying 'HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!'
"Um, this is really nice, guys..." she said "but yesterday was Mother's Day - not today."
"Uh, uh," Ted shook his head as his siblings agreed. "Now that we see how much we need you..."
"And miss you!" Erica shot in as Ted went on, "We decided to declare today - and every day - as Mother's Day!"
Q. How did the older kids feel at first about their mom going away?
A. They felt like it would be easy to get by without her.
Q. How did they feel in the end?
A. They saw how much she did for them and were happy when she got back.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. It's easy to take our mother for granted, but there is no one who does more - or cares more - for us than she does.
Q. How can we let our mom know we appreciate her?
A. Of course we can tell her - that's music to a mother's ears. But more than that we can make an effort to speak pleasantly and respectfully to her and do what we can to help out.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Our sages teach that a mother's desire to feed her children is even greater than the children's desire to be fed. How do you understand this?
A. God put in a mother a special, deep and unceasing love for her children, to the point that she derives more pleasure from their happiness and success than even they do. Whether or not they are always able to show it, we should know that our mother loves us, in a certain sense, even more than we love ourselves.
Q. Who do you think was a greater prophet, Abraham or his wife, Sarah?
A. As great a prophet as Abraham was - the forefather of the Jewish people - Sarah was even greater and God instructed Abraham to listen to her, and follow her instructions.