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Family Parsha V'Zot HaBracha

V'Zot HaBracha (Deuteronomy 33-34 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

It's not always easy to see things come to an end, especially if we are used to the way they are. But life sometimes brings changes that must be faced.

In this week's Torah portion, the Jewish people have to face the reality of Moses, the only leader they ever knew, leaving the world and Joshua coming to take his place.

Besides this, they have to prepare for a new type of life as they leave their wanderings in the desert and prepare to settle in the Land of Israel.

But every ending also heralds a new beginning. It's not coincidence that this Torah portion, the last in the yearly cycle, is read on Simchat Torah at the same time that we start to read Parshat Breishit, the very first portion.

This is yet another reminder that every ending also brings with it a new beginning to look forward to.

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In our story a boy has to face making a big change and discovers how each ending is also a new beginning.


If Daniel's neighborhood was anything, it was quiet. It sat on the edge of town far from the downtown bustle, and about the only noises people were used to hearing there were the chirping of birds by day, crickets by night, and of course, the happy laughter of the neighborhood kids.

Daniel and his friends would play for hours after school, running around the quiet side streets and playgrounds that were as familiar to them as their own backyard.

But one morning, that quiet was rudely disturbed by the loud rumble of a diesel engine and the hiss of hydraulic brakes as a big truck slowly backed itself into Daniel's driveway.

"It's here!" squealed Daniel's younger brothers and sisters as they excitedly ran to the big window in the living room to watch the moving truck park and its burly moving crew clamber out. "Come see!" they called out to their older brother.

But Daniel stayed put sitting cross-legged on his bed with his favorite comic book. "I might as well enjoy my last few minutes before we have to move," he said, almost spitting out the last word.

Daniel wasn't excited at all about the Friedman family's moving day. In fact, he had been dreading it. He had felt that way ever since his dad had called all the kids into the living room two weeks earlier, announcing how they would all be moving across the state to Waterville County, where Mr. Friedman would be starting a new job.

And now the dreaded day had come.

Daniel was sitting lost in his thoughts until his reverie was disturbed by a knock at the door. He got up to open it and found his mother standing there, looking busy but cheerful. She was holding a lamp. "C'mon downstairs Danny," she said. "The movers are here and they'll need to get into your room. I made you some of your favorite blueberry muffins to snack on while we're waiting," she added, expecting to bring a smile to her son's face. But she was surprised to see instead tears welling up in the corner of Daniel's eyes.

"Mom, I don't want to move!" he burst out. "I like it here. I like my room and I like my friends. And I even like my school."

Mrs. Friedman raised her eyebrows at this last comment, as Daniel had been complaining about school the whole year.

"Now we're ... we're leaving everything!" he went on, tears streaming down his cheeks.

His mom took a deep breath, put down the lamp and sat down next to Daniel at the edge of his bed. "I understand how you must feel," she said softly. "It seems to you like everything's falling apart, doesn't it?"

The boy nodded.

"But Danny, you can look at it another way. While it's true that this is our last day in our old neighborhood, it's also the first day in our new neighborhood! There you'll meet new friends, live in a beautiful new house and have all sorts of new parks and playgrounds to explore that you might even like better than the ones here."

Daniel looked up. "I know Mom. But it's just that nothing's going to be the same. I'm scared."

Mrs. Friedman gave her son a reassuring smile. "Not everything is going to be different, you know. First of all, your dad and I are going to be with you, and so will your brothers and sisters. Also we'll have almost all the same furniture and you can even set up your room just like it is now. And then there's the most important thing of all.."

"What's that?" Daniel piped in with a new curiosity.

"You're going to be the same 'you,'" said his mom, smiling. "Remember that no matter where you go and whatever happens, that's one thing that will never change."

Daniel smiled as his mom gave him a hug. He felt much better and thought that just maybe it would be fun to move, after all.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Danny feel when he found out that he had to move to a new home?
A. He was upset and scared.

Q. Why?
A. He didn't want to leave his familiar house and friends.

Q. How did he feel after he spoke to his mom?
A. Better, since he realized some things would be the same even in his new house, and that it could be fun to go to a new place.

Ages 6-9

Q. Why didn't Daniel want to move?

Q. Imagine coming home one day really hungry and your mom gives you a choice of eating either something you have eaten many times before, or something new she'd made for the first time which she says is very delicious. Which of these do you think you would choose? Why?
A. There are certain times people prefer to play it safe and go with what they know, even if they don't like it that much. In our story when Daniel claimed that he liked his school even though he had been complaining about it, he was really saying that he preferred the familiar to the unknown.

Q. Can you think of a time when you did something new, or made a change and it ended up being a good thing even if you were hesitant at first? Why do you think you were hesitant at first?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Our sages teach us that "All beginnings are difficult." What do you think that means? How can knowing this motivate us to grow?
A. We learn from this a fascinating insight. Besides whether a situation itself is difficult or not there is an additional factor that will make us feel that it is. Simply the fact that it is a new situation will by itself make it seem hard. Knowing this can be a big help in trying and sticking with something new if we feel that it will be good for us. We can gain the courage to "stick it out" and see something through if we realize that it's likely to get easier as time goes on.

Q. Sometimes it seems that companies are constantly coming out with products called "new and improved" even when there didn't seem to be any problem with the old product. Why do you think that is? Why do you think people are interested to buy it?
A. While in a sense people prefer what is familiar to them, there is also a feeling of excitement about something "new." Companies try to capitalize on this feeling to increase sales. The feeling itself may be motivated by a vague dissatisfaction in people's lives which they hope the new product will remedy. However, more likely than not this doesn't work. Rather, when a person focuses himself on a more meaningful and spiritually fulfilling lifestyle, he or she will begin to feel more and more satisfied.

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