Everybody likes to be special. To be able to do special things and have extra privileges. This week's Torah portion tells us about some of the special rules for the Kohanim, the Jewish priests. They were the "elite force" in the Holy Temple, who got to do and see amazing things that nobody else could. But being special didn't just mean special privileges. It also meant that they had extra responsibilities and restrictions in what they could eat and how they could behave. We learn from this that a lot of times the greater a person wants to become, the more disciplined he has to be to get there.


In our story a boy teaches his friends that being special comes with special rules.


"Hey Hal, Come on we're all going out for pizza," yelled out Larry as he saw his friend, the track star, walking by.

"No thanks guys," said Hal with a smile. "Pizza's not on my diet."

"What do you mean?" Larry asked. "You're not fat."

"That's right. I'm in training. Coach says unless I lose 5 pounds I won't have a chance in the big race."

"Well, c'mon out with us anyway and shoot the breeze," argued Larry.

"Can't," said Hal. "It's almost past my curfew."

Larry's eyes popped open. "A guy your age has such an early curfew. Boy, your parents are tough!"

Hal started to laugh. "My parents don't have anything to do with it. I'm making myself go to bed extra early so I'll have maximum energy for the track-meet tomorrow."

"Wow, is it worth it to be on the track-team with all these hardships?" asked Larry.

"You bet it is," answered Hal. "I love running so fast and it feels great when the whole school is cheering me on to win the race. Coach says 'no pain-no gain' and he's right. If I want to really be good I can't just take it easy like everyone else. No offense guys, I like pizza as much as anyone else, but I've got to discipline myself to stay in shape. Have a good time, I'll catch you all later. I gotta run."


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Larry feel when Hal said he couldn't go with them?
A. He was surprised until Hal explained to him that, for the good feeling of being on the track team, it was worth not going out.

Q. How would you feel if your parents told you could stay up extra late to do something really special, but only if you took a nap first?

Ages 6-9

Q. How do you think a person would have to discipline himself to become:
     a) a top student
     b) a great musician
     c) a great friend?

Q. What does "no pain, no gain" mean?
A. It means that to accomplish something great, a person has to discipline himself, even if it's difficult.

Q. What is so important to you that you would be willing to work hard for it and even give up things you like to do?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. If it's more comfortable just to take it easy, why would a person want to give it up and work hard at something?
A. Sometimes we feel that a goal is so worth it, that we'll even give up being comfortable to reach it. And in the long run, the pleasure we get from this is much greater than the pleasure of 'taking it easy.'

Q. What is so important to you that you would be willing to work hard for it and even give up things you like to do?