Needy or Greedy?
Greedy grabbing isn't great. In this week's Torah portion (Ex. 16:18) the people who were greedy and grabbed more of the special manna-food in the desert than they were supposed to have found that out when the extra that they took miraculously disappeared. It's fine to take what we need, but we shouldn't take more than we should.
In our story, a kid discovers that grabbing doesn't always gain.
"Today we're making cookies," Bryan's cooking class teacher announced as the kids filed into the school kitchen-classroom.
Yuummmm! Bryan thought to himself. Cooking was his favorite class and cookies were his favorite food, so this was bound to be a winning combo.
He dashed to get a spot at the big, white table where they did their recipes. He saw all kinds of interesting looking ingredients laid out in plastic bowls and kits consisting of a mixing bowl with flour already in it, an egg-beater, and a variety of measuring cups and spoons set up for each of the 15 kids in his class.
As usual, the teacher handed them a recipe sheet telling them just what to put in and how.
Okay, let's see, Bryan thought, first it says; "CRACK AND BEAT ONE EGG" Easy enough. Bryan did what it said and was about to go on to the next ingredient, when he thought, I like cookies and just because the teacher is only letting us make a little, there's no reason not to make a lot.
Checking to see that no one was looking, he quickly grabbed another egg and put it in.
"COCOA POWDER, 1 CUP" was the next ingredient on the list. Only one cup? Bryan thought. That's not fair. With lightening speed, the boy quickly scooped out three cups of the rich, dark brown powder.
As he made his way down the list - 'MARGARINE", "BAKING POWDER", "SUGAR" and "ORANGE JUICE" -- Bryan quickly grabbed his fair share, and then a lot more.
He started to hear some of the kids around him grumble about there not being enough ingredients to go around, but that wasn't his fault, he told himself - after all, they could have grabbed more, too.
The boy carefully mixed his bowl full of ingredients then he rolled them out and placed them on his cookie sheet and popped them into the oven.
The ten minutes he had to wait for them to bake was pure pleasure and pure torture. Torture to have to wait so long, and pleasure thinking how great they were going to be to munch on ... especially since he'd 'helped himself' to a little extra.
The oven buzzer rang and, after donning his trusty insulated kitchen mitts, Bryan slid out his cookie sheet and carried it over to the end of the stainless steel cooling counter, away from the other kids' trays, which compared to his overflowing one, looked like cookie crumbs. As he walked by, he heard his classmates ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their cookies they were tasting. What chumps! he thought, just making the little bit they were allowed on the list.
Now for the moment he'd been waiting for! Bryan picked up one of the sure-to-be-scrumptious, still warm cookies and popped it into his mouth - but his mouth popped it right back out.
It was the worst cookie ... no, the worst thing ... he ever tasted!
Bryan tried not to look too jealous as he watched the other kids enjoy their fairly-measured cookies as he glumly shuffled around his purloined batch of plentiful but nausea-inducing hockey pucks. Maybe next time he'd hold off grabbing more than he needed, which ended up being less.
Q. How did Bryan feel when he was grabbing the extra ingredients?
A. He felt like he was getting away with something that was going to make him get ahead.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He felt like his grabbing not only didn't make things better - it made them worse.
Q. What life lesson do you thing Bryan learned that day?
A. He felt that 'grabbing a little more' than his fair share was an okay thing to do - but the 'bitter taste' his grabbing and messing up his cookies left in his mouth reminded him that trying to get more, can often end up getting you less.
Q. What if the cookies came out good - -would that have made his grabbing okay?
A. No. Besides that he likely caused others not to get what they needed, being 'grabby' for no good reason can turn a person into someone not nice - and not nice to be with.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What does being greedy and grabby say about someone's connection to God?
A. A big part of God connection is to trust that He gives us all that we need and we don't have to grab or push others out to get it. God is a giver, not a grabber, and we become more Godly when we act that way, too.
Q. What if everyone around us is grabbing - is it then okay for us to do so, too?
A. It depends. If it's something REALLY important and if we don't enter the fray we'll be in serious trouble - maybe. But almost all the time we'll find that avoiding greed will give us much more - spiritually and even physically - in the end.