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Vayeira(Genesis 18-22)

Looking for Good


A good deed (or more) a day is the Torah way! In this week's Torah portion, we learn a lot about Abraham and the acts of kindness that he would do for even strangers. He was always looking for ways to help people and make them happy. We too, as Abraham's descendants, can learn from his ways and look for ways to do good deeds, too.

 


In our story, a kid finds a creative way to do good.

LOAN STAR

Josh fought the howling wind as he pulled the back door closed.

Whew! What a storm! he thought, as he stomped the water off his shoes on the inside doormat and snapped closed his umbrella.

Josh rolled the Totes rubbers off his shoes and hung his umbrella back in the closet, barely finding room on the peg stuffed with all the old umbrellas that had accumulated over the years.

Well, better to have too many umbrellas than none at all, he figured.

As he'd sloshed his way home from school, holding up his umbrella like a shield against the cold, liquid arrows, he'd noticed a pair of walking puddles. On closer inspection however, he'd seen it was Bill and Al, couple of his classmates.

"Hey, where are your umbrellas, guys?" he asked the drenched duo.

"F-forgot mine," Bill chattered through his teeth.

"Forecaster said it wouldn't rain 'til tonight," added Al, glumly.

And they weren't the only umbrella-less ones Josh had seen along the way. He wished he could have helped them all, but his personal fold-up umbrella had just barely covered him, so if people were going to forget their umbrellas there was nothing he could do for them ... or was there?

The next day was, as the day before, rainy - and as the day before, unpredicted.

"Wow, I spaced out on the umbrella again today," Bill said to Josh after the end-of-school bell rung and he jealously eyed Josh pulling his out from his locker. "Looks like I'll have to take another 'swim' home."

"Oh, no you won't!" Josh smiled and pointed inside his locker at the half-dozen or so umbrellas hanging there, the handle of each neatly labeled 'Josh's Lend-A-Brellas'.

"Wow!" Bill gaped. "Um, how much do they cost to use?"

"Nothing," Josh said. "Just use one and bring it back the next day - rain or shine."

"Deal!" the kid said, gratefully grabbing one.

Fall turned to winter. As the days and weeks had passed the word had spread, and as Josh got more and more 'customers' his classmates caught a lot less colds...

"Thanks, Josh. Who knew it would snow today?" Al shook his head as he borrowed a 'lend-a-brella' and got ready to walk home. "They said it was going to be sunny and cold."

"Yeah, real cold," Josh sighed. "I forgot my gloves today and my hands froze on the way here and I guess they're going to freeze on the way home."

"Guess again!" Al said with a big grin.

"Huh?"

The boy led Josh to his locker and pulled out a box full of knit winter gloves. On each was a tag that said 'Al's Lend-A-Hands'.

"You gave me the idea," Al said.

"And if you ever forget your hat," Bill piped in from the next locker, "you can come borrow a pair of 'Bill's Lend Me an Ear-muffs'.

The boys laughed.

"Thanks to you," Al said to Josh, "this winter, kindness - and not only colds - is going to be contagious."

 


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Josh feel at first when he noticed that kids were caught in the rain without umbrellas?
A. He felt sorry for them but didn't think there was any way he could help them.

Q. How did he feel afterwards?
A. He realized he could - and did - find a way to help.

 

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. It's great to want to help others, but it's even greater to find practical ways to do so.

Q. Do you think it was right or wrong for Josh's friends to have copied his idea?
A. When it comes to spiritual values - like doing good deeds - there can never be enough. Everyone only gained from the extra good deeds, especially Josh who had the merit to have inspired them.

Spiritual Exercise: Try to come up with a creative good deed to do. Perhaps something you can lend, free-of-charge, to others.

 

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Our sages teach that 'the world is built on acts of kindness.' What do you think this might mean?
A. One thing is that when people work together and try to help each other out, the world transforms into a kinder, happier place and everyone benefits.

Q. Is it good enough to do good deeds as the opportunity comes our way, or should we actively seek them out?
A. It is certainly good to do the good deeds that avail themselves to us, but one who seeks them out becomes a spiritual superman or woman.

Spiritual Exercise: Try to come up with a creative good deed to do. Perhaps something you can lend, free-of-charge, to others.

 

Published: October 17, 2010

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