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Following Through

Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

A person can have the greatest ideas and make the best plans, but they really don't count for very much until he follows through and puts them into action.

In this week's Torah portion, God gives instructions to Moses regarding what steps to take in setting up the Tabernacle and preparing it for use. Then, the Torah almost seems to repeat itself, telling us that Moses indeed took each of these steps. One thing we can learn from here is the value of following through and actually doing the good and worthwhile things that we become inspired to do. This is one of the most important secrets of how to become a more productive and fulfilled person.


In our story, two friends have big plans, but will they follow through?


The whole school was buzzing over the shocking story that fortunately had a happy ending.

Mr. Simmons, the aging science teacher, had suddenly collapsed in the middle of giving a class. While everyone else was panicking, one boy kept his wits about him and started to give him CPR, which, according to the medical technician who arrived on the scene, had kept the man alive until the ambulance arrived.

The teacher was now recovering nicely in the hospital, but the incident had left a strong impression on everyone involved. In response, the school planned to offer free CPR classes after school to anyone who was interested.

Sammy and Johnny, two boys who saw the entire incident in the classroom, were discussing what happened on the bus ride home.

"Wow, what a hero that kid was, huh?" said Sammy.

"Yeah," Johnny agreed, " I wouldn't have had any idea where to begin. It's a good thing he knew CPR. What do you say we sign up to learn it too? It could be a matter of life and death."

Sammy shook his head enthusiastically. "No doubt about it. Let's do it right away."

The next day in school, the boys met up. "Did you sign up yet?" asked Sammy. "The list is on the wall by the gym. Mine is the first name there!"

Johnny was impressed with his friend's quick action. "No, not yet," he said. "But I plan to. I'm definitely into it."

But as the days passed, and Johnny got involved with everything else going on in his life, he forgot all about the CPR class - until he bumped into his friend Sammy who was carrying a thick book on first aid.

"Hi Johnny. I'm on my way to CPR class now. You wanna come with? The instructor is great and they said last week that anyone who didn't sign up and missed the first lesson could still come today and make it up."

Johnny considered his friend's offer. He was impressed that Sammy had actually begun the course. It certainly was an important thing to do. A really great idea ... but somehow he just wasn't in the mood. "I'll take a pass this time," he said. "I think I heard that another class may be starting in a couple of weeks. I plan to jump into that one right from the start."

"Okay, suit yourself. I've gotta run. I don't want to be late."

The long, late-winter weeks passed and the boys would bump into each other from time to time. Sammy would always talk about how great his CPR training was going, and Johnny would reaffirm his desire to do it to, even though nothing was, as of yet, happening.

It was nearly time for spring break. The school put up notices for the final assembly before vacation. There was going to be a band concert, and the highlight of the assembly was going to be the presentation of CPR certificates by the Mayor to all those who successfully completed the course.

"Wow, they finished already?" thought Johnny, as he read the notice.

The next day at the assembly, Johnny watched the CPR certificates passed out to Sammy, and the others with great fanfare. The kids all looked so happy and proud. Johnny's mind wandered and he thought back to the day when he and his friend both decided to take the course. "Wow, Sammy actually did it, and in the end I only thought about doing it."

He felt really sorry that he let such a great opportunity go and decided that from then on whenever he had a good idea, he was going to do whatever it takes to make it happen. "Good ideas are great," he thought, "but they're not enough without action."


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Johnny feel when he and his friend first heard about the CPR course?
A. He felt enthusiastic to do it, but didn't do anything about it.

Q. How did he feel when he saw that his friend, Sammy had graduated the course?
A. He realized how much his friend had gained by following through on his plans, and told himself that from now on he would as well.

Ages 6-9

Q. Both boys were equally inspired to learn CPR. Why do you think Sammy accomplished his goal and Johnny didn't?
A. Sammy did something very important. He took his inspiration, and immediately turned it into action. Many times we can have the best ideas and biggest plans, but if we don't act on them right away, we can find ourselves putting them off, getting distracted, and losing out on a valuable opportunity to accomplish.

Q. How can a person learn to become more action-oriented?
A. Many times, the best way to become accustomed to a new habit is to simply start by doing it, even mechanically at first, until we get more used to it. In this case, it would mean making a conscious effort to follow through and put whatever good ideas we have into action right away, even if we don't 'feel' like it. It's best to start with something small. After doing this a few times, we will see it start to become more natural and easy for us, and we will get more done than we ever thought we could.

Q. Can you think of a good idea you are inspired to do? What's a good first step to take?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Who is more valuable, the 'thinker' or the 'doer'?
A. Both have their place, and each complements the other. The thinker is one who is able to see beyond current limitations, and introduce original and creative ideas that can benefit the world. Yet without the doer who makes them a reality, these valuable ideas may remain locked in his head, or tucked away in a journal. For the individual, the ideal is to try to develop both the thinking and doing parts of ourselves. While certain people may be stronger in one area than the other, everyone has potential to grow in both ways. The goal is to maximize the talents that we have, for the benefit of ourselves, and society.

Q. How can strengthening our relationship with God make us more effective at following through and getting things done?
A. For one thing, we can come to realize that the entire burden of accomplishment is not on our shoulders. In fact, God is the real force behind anything we are able to accomplish. We need only put in whatever effort we are capable of, and He can make these efforts go much further than we ever could on our own. Also, we can gain greater confidence and motivation when we set out to do things to further God's agenda of making the world and ourselves more spiritual, just, and loving. We tap into a power greater than ourselves and can move mountains.

Q. Can you think of a good idea you are inspired to do? What's a good first step to take?


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