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Positive Transitions

Nitzavim-Vayelech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

Life is always changing. Each person we meet, each place we go, and each thing we do, is an opportunity to experience, learn from, and just plain enjoy.

But most situations don't last forever. We may find ourselves experiencing some transitions in life. Some changes will be easier, some may be more difficult. The Jewish people had to face a big change when Moses, their great teacher and leader, gathered them together to tell them he would be leaving this world very soon. He wanted to share his wisdom with them one last time. Although the people felt sad and anxious that he was leaving, Moses tried to encourage them and to help them to realize that their time together had been valuable and what they had gained from the opportunity would remain with them. We can learn from this how to deal positively with life's transitions and know that even if something good comes to an end, the good that we found in it will remain with us forever.


In our story two friends learn to accept a transition in their lives.


Anyone who saw Richie and Dan would have assumed that they were brothers. They practically dressed the same, they liked to play the same games, and they were nearly always together. Who would have guessed that just three weeks ago they hadn't even known each other?

Their two families had met each other during their summer vacation at the Sunny-Side bungalow vacation colony. And while both families really hit it off, nothing came close to the wonderful friendship that had developed between the two boys.

The weeks went on and soon it was time for the summer to end. The boys' families, along with the rest of the colony, were busily packing up their belongings for their trips back home.

"Richie!" his dad called out from behind their back porch, "Can you please help me take apart the bar-b-que?"

There was no answer. Soon the family realized that Richie was nowhere in sight. They went out to the main grounds to look for him and were surprised to find Dan's family searching for their son. After a tense hour of searching and almost calling the police, they discovered that both boys had been hiding together in the equipment shack behind the pool.

Their parents were relieved to find the boys, but they were also dismayed when they realized why the boys had been hiding.

"We don't want to go home!" said Richie.

"Please don't make us leave," pleaded Dan.

Their parents understood that the new best friends didn't want to break up. But they patiently explained to them that there was no choice.

Sadly Richie and Dan came out from their hiding place and walked back together toward the bungalows, trailing behind their families. As they made their way down the quiet, tree-lined path to the bungalow, Richie, through teary eyes murmured to Dan, "I wish we never came here!"

His friend turned to him with a sympathetic look.

Richie continued, "Why did we bother making friends here just to have to go home?"

Dan nodded and said, "You know, it has been a great summer, and it's really hard to see it end. But I'm glad I came, anyway."

Richie, who was playing with a twig he had found, looked up. "Why?" he asked.

"Even though we only got to be friends for a little while, if I hadn't come we wouldn't have gotten to be friends at all," Dan said. "You wouldn't have taught me how to throw a curve-ball, and I never would have realized that there was anyone else in the world who liked peanut-butter pizza!"

The boys laughed. As they walked on they talked about all the great times they'd had. They planned to write to each other and to ask their families to come back next summer, even though they realized that it might not happen.

"I guess I'm also glad I came," admitted Richie as the boys neared the end of the trail. "A friend like you was worth making for any amount of time."


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Richie feel when he found out that they had to go home?
A. He was sad to have to go away from his friend and wished he had never come.

Q. How about after he spoke with Dan?
A. The boys realized that they had gotten a lot out of the summer and, even though it was sad to leave, it had been a good experience.

Ages 6-9

Q. Was it worth it for the boys to have made friends for such a short amount of time?
A. While it was hard to part, and the boys wished that they could stay together longer, it was still worth it. Life is something that changes, often beyond our control. But this isn't a reason to avoid experiencing what life sends us. Good things -- like Richie's and Dan's time together -- was a worthwhile positive experience for them, even if didn't last such a long time.

Q. Is it okay to feel sad when good things come to an end?
A. It's very normal. We wish that good things could last forever. But it's also important to remember that the memories and lessons of those times will always stay with us, and that God puts each person or experience in our life for just the right amount of time and for our best good.

Q. What changes have occurred in your life, and how do you feel about them?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What is so hard about facing changes, and what can we do to make transitions easier?
A. People like a sense of security, to feel that things are the same as always. Facing changes, even if the changes themselves aren't unpleasant, shakes us out of our familiar routine and can cause us to feel less secure. One way to deal with these feelings is to develop and emphasize the parts of ourselves that will always be with us, such as our values, the spiritual side of ourselves, and our closeness to God, Who never changes. When we do this, we have a steady, unchanging basis to our lives that give us the power to deal securely with whatever changes do come our way.

Q. Do you believe that people have within them the ability to handle any change that life may bring them? Why or why not?
A. Of the many changes and transitions a person will encounter in life, many will be pleasant, others less so. The one thing that these transitions have in common is that they are all specifically sent to us by God as a chance to learn and grow spiritually. Our sages teach us that God will never send us a situation that is beyond our ability to handle. This makes sense when we realize that any challenges were sent specifically to us for a specific purpose. We definitely have the tools within us to handle whatever comes our way. It's only up to us to make use of these tools.

Q. What changes have occurred in your life, and how do you feel about them?



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