Nobody likes to make mistakes. Sometimes we wish we were perfect, or feel that we should be. But the truth is that even the greatest people sometimes make mistakes. This week's Torah portion describes the Jewish people's travels in the desert toward the land of Israel. But in the desert there wasn't any water to drink, so God decided to make a miracle for them and cause water to come flowing out of a rock. He told Moses to speak to the rock and then the water would come pouring out. Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses mistakenly hit it with his stick. If even Moses, the greatest of men, could make a mistake, we shouldn't expect ourselves to be perfect. We have to try our best and learn from the mistakes we do make.


In our story, a girl learns that it's okay not to be perfect.


Dina seemed to be the perfect student. Nobody could ever remember her getting less than an "A" on a test or a report card. She wore a serious look on her face that made her look older than she really was, and she always did her homework on time.

The thing she did the best though, was spell. "Dina, the Dictionary" her friends would call her with amazement. She could spell words that nobody else could even pronounce.

So when it came time for the state-wide spelling championship, everyone -- including Dina herself -- expected that she would walk away with the crown.

The big day of the contest arrived. Spelling whizzes from all over the state gathered at the beautiful Wilson Auditorium in the state capitol. It was an awesome building with a high gold ceiling and rows of plush red velvet seats.

Dina's friend Sari made herself comfortable in one of the front rows and watched all the contestants sitting lined up on the auditorium's stage. A panel of judges sat across from them and asked each of them, one at a time, to spell some of the hardest words Sari had ever heard of. If they got their word right, they would go another round. If not, they would have to step down.

Soon the contest was down to two finalists, "Dina the Dictionary" and one other girl.

It was Dina's turn, and Sari watched from the edge of her seat. The judge asked Dina to spell a word that sounded pretty easy. "Hey even I could spell that," thought Sari. Dina grinned, and began to spell. But amazingly she got it wrong.

"I'm sorry," called out the judge, "That was not correct."

The other girl, who was now the winner, jumped for joy.

Dina hid her face in her hands and ran down off the stage. Sari got up and ran after her. She finally caught up with her outside of the auditorium. Sari could see that Dina had been crying. "I can't believe I blew it," she said bitterly. "I should have been able to spell a word like that backwards in my sleep!"

Sari tried to think of something to say to her friend. At last she said, "I'm sure that you must feel terrible but these types of things happen to all of us. Everybody makes mistakes."

"Not me," sniffled Dina. "I should have done better."

Sari took her friend by the hand and said, "Dina, I know you're upset. But nobody's perfect. Not even you. Nobody expected you to be, and you don't have to expect it of yourself. God didn't put us in the world to never make mistakes, just to try our best, and learn from the mistakes we do make."

Dina nodded her head.

Suddenly Sari got an idea. She opened her backpack and pulled out a pocket dictionary. Her copy had been printed with the cover upside down. "See Dina," she said with a smile. "Even the dictionary gets it wrong sometimes!" The two friends had a good laugh, and headed home.


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Dina feel when she spelled the word wrong? Why?
A. She felt bad because she thought she should always do everything right and not make mistakes.

Q. How do you feel when you try hard to do something but make a mistake? Do you feel good that at least you really tried?

Ages 6-9

Q. Do you believe a person can learn from his mistakes? If so, how?
A. We can try to think about what went wrong, and why. The next time something similar comes up we can remember and try not to make the same mistake again.

Q. Do you think the pressure to be perfect helps a person to do better, or does it hold him back? A. It will usually hold him back, since when we're under pressure it can lead us to make more mistakes than we normally would. Knowing we're not perfect gives us the freedom to be the best we can be.

Q. Do your remember a lesson you learned from making a mistake?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What does it mean "to err is human?"
A. It means that as human beings we are bound to make mistakes sometimes. God didn't intend for us to be perfect. Rather that we should always try to do our best and be happy with the results, even if they're not perfect.

Q. Do you believe good can come from our mistakes? Can you think of any personal examples?
A. One good thing is that we can learn to be more patient and accepting with other people. When we see that we're not perfect, we don't expect others to be either. Also we can discover new things that we wouldn't know about if we didn't make the mistake. For instance, making a wrong turn and discovering a beautiful park, etc.