> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Starting Over

Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

In many ways starting something over again can be even more challenging than starting something new. When things fall apart, especially after a lot of hard work went into them, a person can feel tempted to just throw up his hands and quit.

But this week's Torah portion teaches another way. In Noah's time, people's inhumanity caused the whole world to be destroyed. The few survivors were faced with a choice: either give up, or to make the best of the new reality, and start to rebuild their lives - and the world - from scratch. Encouraged by their leader, Noah, and by God, the people made the brave choice to begin again, rebuilding a better world.

When things seem to fall apart in our lives, we can also choose not to give up, but instead to accept the challenge of beginning to put things back together again.


In our story, a sister and brother share a lesson in starting over.


"Wow, I can't believe it. Just one more propeller and this airplane is ready to fly!" thought Bryan Adelman excitedly, as he gazed with approval at the sleek model airplane perched regally on his desk. The model, a classic spitfire fighter plane, had been Bryan's obsession for nearly a month. Every day after school the boy had spent painstaking hours gluing, fitting, and assembling the hundreds of pieces. It was the most challenging model Bryan had made so far, and now, after fitting on a few more small parts, it would be finished!

Bryan lifted up the tube of model cement when he heard his name being called. "Bryan ... telephone call!" his sister, Nadia, rang out.

Bryan debated in his mind whether or not to take the call or ask his sister to take a message. In the end he got up. "The plane has waited this long, I guess a few more minutes won't hurt," he told himself. As he walked out of his room he noticed his cute baby brother Joey crawling in the hallway. A few minutes later Bryan hung up the phone and hurried back to his beloved airplane.

But when he walked into his room the scene that met his eyes was beyond belief. There, lying in the middle of the floor in a hundred pieces, was the wreckage of what was once his beautiful model plane, and baby Joey looking like the cat who swallowed the canary.

"OH NO!!!" Bryan screamed. Nadia ran in to see what all the commotion was about. She found Bryan crying, the pieces of the model airplane scattered on the floor and little Joey who was now also crying. She immediately got the whole picture.

"Oh Bryan, I'm so sorry," she said empathetically. "How are you going fix it?"

The boy slowly looked up. "I'm not."

"But why not?"

Bryan shrugged. "Just look at it. A month of hard work down the tubes. It would be a huge job to put it back together, and even then, it would never be the same. And besides, who knows when some dumb baby will decide to come along and smash it to pieces? So forget it, the model's done and over with ... and so am I."

Nadia was quiet. She had never seen her brother so down. She sat on the floor next to the model and started to fit together some of the pieces. Suddenly Nadia tapped her brother on the knee, and with a cheerful smile said, "Look, Bryan, maybe you're right. Let's say that the model you were working on is really over with, but what about the new one that's waiting to be begun?"

He looked up. "What are you talking about?"

Nadia stood up with conviction. "Let me ask you, why did you decide to build this model in the first place? Wasn't it a lot of work - so many little pieces?"

Bryan nodded. "Sure, but it was fun and also a challenge..."

"Exactly. So now isn't what's sitting in front of you a new challenge?"

Bryan sat in silence, considering his sister's words.

"I know it must hurt a lot to see it broken," Nadia continued, "but what's done is done. Think of it as starting from scratch. Just like it was fun and challenging to put it together the way it was then, it also can be now!"

Bryan scanned the pieces of the model and started to envision ways to get it back in shape. He started to perk up. "Maybe I really could start again" he said quietly. He took a deep breath and felt a glimmer of renewed hope. Picking up a piece of the broken plane, he smiled at his sister and said, "Okay, I'm gonna start my new-old model. And by the way ... thanks for helping to put myself back together too."


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Bryan feel when he found his model airplane smashed?
A. He felt like giving up and not trying to fix it.

Q. How did talking to Nadia make him feel?
A. He felt like it would be a new challenge to put it together, so he was ready to try.

Ages 6-9

Q. What do you think is the secret to pulling yourself together when things fall apart?
A. It's mostly a matter of attitude. When things and situations 'fall apart' we have a choice whether to just get down about it and not do anything about it, or to proactively look at the new situation and do what we can to make it good. This is the lesson Bryan learned from his sister.

Q. What about when really bad things happen, are we really supposed to just go forward as if nothing happened?
A. Certainly when something serious happens in a person's life he has to acknowledge the pain, and give himself enough time to heal. But the Torah advises us to keep in mind that eventually a person has to move forward with his life, and make the best of any situation he finds himself in.

Q. Can you think of a time when you had to start something over again? How did you feel?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What did Nadia see that Bryan didn't?
A. While Bryan was focusing on what was, Nadia looked forward at what could be. Bryan saw a wrecked model, and a lot of hard work down the drain. His sister was able to think more laterally and see the situation as a new challenge to be met. A key to maximizing any situation is the ability to shift along with changing realities and make the best of the present.

Q. How can a spiritual perspective be of value in learning how to adapt to new realities?
A. A spiritual perspective helps us to focus on our internal reactions, and not so much on external situations. Once we realize that God is always with us and constantly manipulating the events in our lives to encourage our spiritual growth, we can find it easier to accept things as they come, and zero in instead on what we can do to be the best person possible in any given situation.

Q. Can you think of a time when you had to start something over again? How did you feel?


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