Sometimes a little expert advice can make a big difference. If a person doesn't feel well, he'll get advice from his doctor. If his car starts making funny noises, he'll ask a qualified mechanic what to do. In this week's Torah portion, we learn about the Cohen Gadol, the special Jewish high priest. The Cohen Gadol, chosen for his wisdom and goodness, was one of the leaders of our nation. People from all over would come and consult with him to get clear advice to help them make smart decisions in all facets of their lives. This wise man would turn to God to pray and would consult a special, jeweled breastplate that he wore, through which God would actually spell out the proper advice to give! Although we don't have a Cohen Gadol today, when we find ourselves confronted with big life decisions, we can still benefit by getting the advice of a mentor, or 'life expert.' At such times its worthwhile to seek out and consult the people in our lives whose life experience, wisdom, and common sense can help us untangle our thorniest problems and keep our lives sailing on a smooth course.


In our story, a boy finds out that a little expert advice pays off in a lot of ways.


The members of the Hartsville Day School model-racing club were buzzing with excitement. Mr. Shore, their teacher and club director, had just announced the details of the Big Race. Each of the kids would get to build their own scale model racing cart from scratch. Then they would all bring their creations to nearby Wildcliff Hill and have a series of race-offs until the winner would walk away with a super grand prize!

Mr. Shore explained that he had been building carts like this since he was their age, and he was more than happy to meet privately with any of them and give them all the tips and advice they may need.

Two of the boys in the club, Andrew and Jonathan, were next-door neighbors. Each of them got right to work on their projects and converted their garages into makeshift racing-cart factories. From time to time one of the guys would come over to his neighbor to borrow a tool or just check things out.

One Sunday, as Andrew was on his way over to see his Jonathan, he bumped into his friend coming out the garage door. "Hey, where are you heading?" he asked.

"I hit a snag" said Jonathan. "I'm on my way over to Mr. Shore's how to get some advice what to do. You mentioned you were also having a hard time, do you wanna come too? I'm sure he'd be happy to meet with both of us."

"Why should I?" answered Andrew defensively. "I'm doing just fine without anybody's advice."

"Up to you." said Jonathan with a dubious smile, as the boys each went on their own way.

When Jonathan got to Mr. Shore's house he heard some clanging noises coming from the direction of the man's garage. He knocked on the door and found Mr. Shore busy at work, tinkering with a classic car that he had up on a jack.

"C'mon in Jon," smiled the man, as he noticed his visitor's arrival.

Jonathan explained his problem, and Mr. Shore sat the boy down and patiently went over some ideas of what he could do to make things work. The boy was amazed at the simple, yet ingenious solutions. As they spoke Jonathan realized that Mr. Shore was an understanding and wise person with good ideas. Before he knew it, he found himself discussing some of the issues and decisions he was facing in his life. The advice the older man gave him made a lot of sense, and Jonathan walked out more than an hour later feeling like he had learned more than he could have on his own in a year, and not only about racing carts. When he got home, he went right back to work on his racing-cart and the difficulties he was having disappeared.

Over the next couple of days, Jonathan also started to act on some of Mr. Shore's life-advice and he found that a lot of things that had been bothering him seemed to start getting much better.

The day of the big race finally arrived. The kids excitedly lined up their racing-carts at the top of the hill. The starting whistle blew and they took off. Jonathan's cart glided down smooth and steady and he found himself at the head of the pack! As he sped along, Jonathan managed to catch a glimpse of Andrew, clunking his way down the hill in a vehicle that kind of resembled a shopping cart, and moved about half as fast.

That day Jonathan walked away with a big trophy and the grand prize. Andrew, who was struggling to pull his clunker out of the mud that it got stuck in, noticed his friend's gleaming trophy. "Hey Jon!" he called out. "Guess you were smart in asking for Mr. Shore's advice after all!"

Jonathan just smiled and nodded. If only his friend knew just how right he was.


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Jonathan feel after he had gone to speak with Mr. Shore?
A. He was glad he went because he got some valuable advice about both how to build his racer, and other things.

Q. How did Andrew feel when he saw how fast Jonathan's racing cart went, and that he had won the race?
A. He felt like next time he would also go to get advice when he needed it.

Ages 6-9

Q. Do you think it's a good idea to sometimes ask for advice?
A. Nobody knows everything. It's only normal that we are going to run into situations that require a little outside expertise. At these times its worthwhile to seek out someone with more experience and knowledge in the type of situation we are dealing with. Often they can help give us the keys we need to be able to successfully work through the problem better than we ever could have on our own.

Q. Why do you think Andrew hesitated to consult with Mr. Shore even when he had really needed to?
A. Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that asking for help or advice when they are having difficulties is a sign of weakness. While it is a good thing to try to be independent, this doesn't preclude making the independent minded choice to seek expert advice when needed. Actually it often takes much more strength and courage to admit that we need help than to deny it.

Q. Can you think of a really good piece of advice someone once gave to you?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What qualities should a person look for in a 'life-expert,' or mentor who can help guide him through the sticky issues of his life?
A. Although it depends on the individual, certain qualities that generally are important to find within him or her include: a sense of proper Jewish values and priorities, patience, a willingness to really listen, a balanced and practical approach to life and the maturity of experience. It is also crucial to see that the mentor is himself truly living by the proper values that he is espousing to others.

Q. How can a person know when it is appropriate to seek out advice, and when he should just go it alone and try to work out his problems by himself?
A. Certainly it is valuable for personal growth to use one's inner resources and try to solve the problems that he faces. Yet it is inevitable that he is going to encounter issues that are confusing, and perhaps genuinely beyond the limits of his intellectual or emotional expertise. At these times, the wise and practical thing to do is to turn to others and learn from them. We will also find as we consult competent people we learn from them the tools needed to solve similar problems in the future, and ultimately gain the wisdom to counsel others as well.

Q. Can you think of a really good piece of advice someone once gave to you?