Don't Give Up
V'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 )
A story for the entire family.
Sometimes we feel like we want to give up. When things seem to be going against us we can feel sunk. But the Torah teaches us otherwise. In this week's Torah portion, Moses asks God to let him come 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 doesn't give up. He just keeps on praying and praying to be able to come in. Moses knows 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 out neck, meaning that even when things look hopeless, we should still try to do what we can. We should ask God for help, and we should never give up hope.
In our story a boy learns a big lesson about not giving up.
"IT'S NOT OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER"
"Batter up!" called out the umpire impatiently. It was the ninth inning. The Jets were all in the field waiting for the Hawks' first batter to come up. But nobody was coming out.
Meanwhile in the Hawks' dug-out a heated conversation was going on between Donny, the team captain, and Elly, the second baseman. "Elly, you're up," said Donny. "Get out there, you're holding up the game."
Elly looked up from the end of the bench where he had been sitting, flipping a ball up and down to himself. "Why bother?" he said. "The Jets scored eight runs in the last inning. They're up by 10. We don't have a chance. So tell me, why should I bother?"
"Why should you bother?" repeated Donny incredulously. "Because the game's not over yet. OK, they are way ahead. But that doesn't mean we can't catch up," he added. "One thing's for sure, though. If we don't try, then we will definitely lose."
Elly shrugged his shoulders, stood up to grab a bat, and said, "Look, you're the captain. If you tell me to go up to bat I will. But I still think we're wasting our time."
Elly walked out to the batter's box. "Thought you got lost on the way," teased the Jets pitcher.
"Just pitch!" Elly called back to him.
The pitch came in and Elly suprised everyone, especially himself, by getting a hit. After two more hits and a run in, the Hawks started to get excited.
Two hits, two walks, a wild pitch and a home-run later, the score was tied! The game was going to go into extra innings.
As the Hawks ran out to take the field, Donny noticed the second baseman who now was all charged up with energy. "Well do you feel like it was worth going up to bat after all?" he asked, with a wink.
Elly smiled, pounded his fist into his glove and said, "Donny, whether we win or lose this game, I feel like you gave me a big victory in learning how to play the game."
Q. How did Elly feel when it was his turn to go to bat?
A. He felt like quitting. He didn't want to go up 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.
Q. If, in the end, Elly's team lost the game, do you think he should feel that he wasted his time by going up to bat in the ninth inning? Why or why not?
A. Elly had thought that the team's situation was hopeless. After the big effort to catch up which tied the game, he saw that there was hope. Even if the end they lost anyway, Elly would have gained a personal victory. He would be recharged with the belief that there's always hope, and therefore be glad that at least he tried.
Q. Sometimes when we ask for something we're refused. When do you think we should keep trying to "get our way" and when is it better to just take "no" for an answer?
A. A lot depends on what we're asking for. If it's something really important that we honestly feel would be good for ourselves or for others, its usually worthwhile to keep on trying. But if deep down we know it's just something we "feel like" having but we don't really need, it's probably better to "let it go."
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. Secondly, 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 we don't really believe we can succeed and we lessen our trust in God.
Q. Can you think of a time when you recognized that God was right there rooting for you and helping you succeed?