What's the secret to peace? This week's Torah portion teaches about the special 'peace offering' service in the holy tabernacle-sanctuary. Our sages (Lev. 3:1, Rashi) teach that a reason it was called a 'peace' offering was because it was shared fairly by everyone involved. We can learn from here that a secret of making and keeping peace in our lives is to be fair and make sure everyone gets his share.
In our story, a kid discovers that the way to peace can be as easy as 'one less piece.'
Jason jogged to his camp cabin holding the precious package in his arms, with a smile on his face wider than the moon. What great timing that his mom's weekly "campers care package" of goodies arrived just when his brother, Scott, was away on a hike! He remembered how it was after last week's delivery...
"Hey - I get those gourmet jellybeans!" Scott bellowed, digging his fingernails into Jason's arm as he grabbed the package away from him.
"What are you talking about?" Jason said, pushing back. "Last week you grabbed all the good stuff out of the package last week before I could even get at it and left me with the boring stuff!"
"And what about what you did to me the week before?" Scott elbowed him hard on the back...
Jason rubbed his still-sore arm and shuddered. He hated what had become their weekly fight over who got the best treats, but there was nothing to do about it. At least this week things would be different, because he had already had the package in his hot little hands and Scott was miles and hours away.
Hmm, let's see, Jason thought, going over the stuff. Red-Hot Jelly Jiggles, for me ... whole-wheat crackers, for him. Triple Chocolate Wow Balls, for me ... salt-free pretzel sticks, for him...
Jason finished dividing up the whole care package and started to lock up his share in his footlocker. Boy was Scott going to be mad when he found out. And boy was there going to be a big fight about it when he got back. He didn't like the fighting, but there was nothing else he could do. At least this week he'd take the best for himself and enjoy himself to the max. It was perfectly fair, Jason thought ... or was it?
A couple of hours later...
"Wow, am I beat from that hike. My feet feel like a couple of pencil erasers worn down to the end!" Scott said, as he plopped his backpack in front his bunk bed and flopped down onto his mattress. Suddenly, noticing the familiar manila package torn open and in the garbage can across the room, he bounced up like a spring. "Hey, the treat package - it came?"
"And you split it up already?" Scott said with alarm in his voice.
"Uh, huh," the boy grinned "Your portion's on your shelf."
"Oh man, I can't believe my bad luck," he groaned, running to the shelf. "Did you save me anything? Hey, wait a minute!" Scott suddenly said, confused. "A half a pack of Jelly Jiggles ... a half a pack of Wow-Balls ... half a pack of ... hey, you really split everything we got, half-and-half, didn't you?"
"It's only fair, isn't it?" Jason smiled.
Scott, amazed at his good fortune, nodded. "Well, yeah, I guess... Thanks! And, um..." he unlocked his footlocker "...then I suppose, it's only fair that I give you half of those gourmet jellybeans from last week."
From then on Jason and Scott never had a fight ... well, at least about their treat package ... all because Jason had the good sense know that some extra 'peace' was worth more than an extra 'piece.'
Q. How did Jason feel at first when he got the treat package?
A. He wanted to take all the good stuff for himself.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He felt it was right to share fairly, which helped him and his brother to stop fighting.
Q. What life lesson do you think the brothers learned from what happened?
A. Many of life's fights occur when someone wants more than he's entitled to get. When we learn to share fairly and consider the other guy's needs as well, people will get along much more peacefully.
Q. Do you think Jason had the right to take most of the good stuff from the package, since Scott sometimes did, too?
A. It would be easy to feel this way; however, the only chance people have ever to be at peace is if someone decides to be fair - even if the other one wasn't.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Does making peace require giving in to unreasonable demands?
A. While peace is very important; nonetheless, a person has the right to expect fairness from all sides. While it may pay to bend over backwards, somewhat - we shouldn't bend so far that we fall over.
Q. Our sages teach that when two people are at peace they can live together on something as thin as the edge of a sword - when they're not, the whole world's not enough space for them. How do you understand this idea?
A. Peace and sharing are related in more ways than one. Just as sharing is conducive to peace, being at peace with someone makes it so much easier to share.