Sometimes things may seem so hard we feel like giving up. But the Torah teaches us that even then ... we should hang on. In our Torah portion, Moses asked God to let him move into the land of Israel with the rest of the Jewish people. God had already told him that he wouldn't be allowed into the land. But Moses didn't give up. He just kept on praying and praying to be able to come in. Moses knew that God is very merciful and might still let him in. Our sages teach us never to give up, even when the sword is at our neck. That means even when things look hopeless, we should still try to do what we can, and know that God can, and may help us at the last moment. The Torah way is to trust in God and never give up hope.


In our story a boy learns a big lesson about not giving up.


Nobody knew what was going on. It was the bottom half of the ninth inning. The Knights were all milling about the field waiting for the Tigers' first batter to come up. But a long time had passed, and nobody was coming out of the dugout to play! Was this a ball game or wasn't it?

"Batter up!" called out the umpire impatiently.

Meanwhile on the Tigers' bench, a heated conversation was going on between Ronny, the team captain, and Elliot, the second baseman. "C'mon Elliot, you're up," said Ronny. "What are you waiting for? You're holding up the game."

But the boy stayed put. Elliot looked up from the end of the bench where he had been sitting, flipping a ball up and down to himself. "Why should I bother?" he said. "The Knights scored eight runs in the last inning. They're beating us by 10. We don't have a chance. So tell me, what's the point?"

"Why should you bother?!" repeated Ronny incredulously. "Because the game's not over yet. So they are way ahead. But that doesn't mean we can't catch up! One thing's for sure, though - if we don't try, we'll definitely lose."

Elliot shrugged his shoulders. He slowly stood up to grab a bat, and said, "Look, you're the captain. If you tell me I have to go up to bat I will. But I still think we're wasting our time."

Elliot walked out to the batter's box. "Thought you got lost on the way," teased Jim, the Knight's star pitcher.

"Cut the comedy and just pitch!" Elliot snapped back at him.

The pitch, a slick curve ball came in - and Elliot surprised everyone, especially himself, by getting a hit. This got the Tigers on the right track. Two more hits and a run later, the Tigers were starting to get excited.

The team seemed to catch fire. Another two hits, two walks, a wild pitch and a home run, and the score was tied! The game was going to go into extra innings.

As the Tigers ran out to take the field, Ronny noticed Elliot who now was all charged up with energy. "What a comeback you started! Now do you feel like it was worthwhile going up to bat after all?"

Elliot grinned, pounding his fist into his glove, and said, "Definitely! But you know something Ronny, win or lose, you taught me a big lesson about how to play the game."


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Elliot feel when it was his turn to go to bat?
A. He felt like quitting. He didn't want to go up to bat because he thought his team had no chance to win.

Q. Is it right to just give up and quit when things aren't going the way we want?
A. No, we should always keep trying and hope that things will get better.

Ages 6-9

Q. Do you think Elliot would have been wasting his time by going up to bat in the ninth inning if in the end his team lost the game? Why or why not?
A. Elliot had thought that the team's situation was hopeless, and therefore saw no reason to try. After they started to catch up, he saw that there was cause to hope. But even if his team would have lost in the end, Elliot would still have gained a personal victory. He came to realize that there's always hope, and it's always important to try your best. This is a valuable life lesson, and certainly not a waste of time.

Q. When a person asks for something and is refused, do you think he should keep trying to get his way, or is it better to just take "no" for an answer?
A. A lot depends on what he's asking for. Stubbornness and flexibility both can be positive, and have their place. For something truly worthwhile that he honestly feels would be good for himself or for others, it's probably a good idea to stubbornly keep trying. But if deep down he knows it's just something he feels like having but doesn't really need, it's probably better to "let it go."

Q. Can you think of a time when you felt like giving up hope? What happened?

Q. Can you think of a time when you recognized that God was right there rooting for you and helping you succeed?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. There are times when things really do appear hopeless and it seems totally irrational to believe that things will improve. Why then does the Torah enjoin us to maintain hope even then?
A. For several reasons. First of all, we really can't know when a situation is hopeless. God can do anything, even when it seems impossible. History is full of examples. During the Gulf War, for instance, Saddam Hussein fired 39 deadly missiles at Israel. Many of them exploded in the middle of busy cities, yet amazingly there was only one casualty. Besides this, there is another reason that its important to maintain hope and do whatever we can. We're responsible to try our utmost. A negative attitude prevents us from doing that, because if we don't really believe we can succeed we won't try as hard, and fail to succeed even where we could have.

Q. Did Moses really expect to 'change God's mind? And if we believe that God always does what's best for us, is it even a good idea to try to change His mind?
A. God does always have our best in mind, and gives us what we need. There are times when God could withhold from us certain things at the outset in order to teach us a lesson. Perhaps we need to examine the underlying motivations behind what we want or try harder to achieve worthwhile goals. Therefore when we are convinced, as Moses was, that it would have been good for the Jewish people for him to enter the land with them, he had the right to assume that perhaps God simply wanted him to try a little harder.

Q. Can you think of a time when you felt like giving up hope? What happened?

Q. Can you think of a time when you recognized that God was right there rooting for you and helping you succeed?