Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20 )
Each of us has our own way of looking at the world, and own way of doing things. Because of this, people don't always see eye-to-eye. When the Jewish people were traveling in the desert, on the way to the Land of Israel, they were divided into 12 different tribes, or extended families. Although each tribe had its own talents, customs, and even its own flag, they accepted each other and remained united, working together. They realized that their differences were part of God's plan to form the best nation possible.
We, too, can learn to accept each other's differences, and even come to appreciate how these differences can complement each other and help us to best reach a common goal.
In our story, some very different kinds of people discover how their differences can come together to make something great.
"TAKING THE CAKE"
"Lorr…ie, you're taking forever!" protested June, with an exasperated sigh, as her sister painstakingly decorating the large chocolate cake. The Sherman kids had all been really excited about the idea of throwing a surprise party for their parents' 20th wedding anniversary, but now, at least to June's mind, things weren't going at all as planned.
June, the model of efficiency, had figured out the absolute, most quick and efficient way to set up the whole party from start to finish. She was certain that her brother and sister would go along with her, but it just wasn't working out that way at all.
First her brother, Barry, didn't want to arrange the dining room the way she had told him to, and now, her sister, Lorrie, had been sitting over the anniversary cake for nearly half an hour!
"What's the big deal?" asked June, "Just write 'Happy Anniversary' on it, and finished!"
Her younger sister looked up, and shook her head. "June, it takes time to decorate a cake, you know. I have to do it my way. For Mom and Dad, it has to be just beautiful!"
June shrugged her shoulders as she looked down at the cake that her sister had covered with elaborated frosted leaves and flowers. Sure, it was pretty; Lorrie had always been artistic. But in June's opinion, it was not the best use of her sister's time.
Speaking of time, June glanced up at the clock, and panicked. It was nearly four o'clock, and her parents were due to come home at six! She dashed into the dining room, and nearly fainted. Instead of the fancy china table arrangement she had picked out, her brother had set up the table like a kid's party, with funny napkins, and even balloons.
"Hey, what happened to the china?!" she cried out, in alarm.
Barry smiled mischievously. "That was so boring. I thought it would be so much more fun like this."
June thought she was going to burst. She had planned out the perfect way to set up the party and Barry had just ruined everything. Why couldn't her fun-loving brother have just listened? Why were he and Lorrie being so stubborn? June thought to herself as tears welled up in her eyes.
She picked herself up, telling herself, "Well, the show must go on." It was too late to change things now, and besides, there was so much more she had to do! June hastily set about the thousand-and-one details left to be taken care of. She barely had enough time left to shower and change before her parents would arrive.
The clock struck six, and June held her breath as she heard her dad's car pull into the driveway. Of course, it would have been a much better party if the other kids had been willing to listen to her, but what could you do?
Mr. and Mrs. Sherman opened the door and gasped with delight at the festive sight that met their eyes. "Wow, how did you ever set this up in just the three hours we were away?" asked her father with amazement. They looked at their efficient daughter, June, who beamed at their recognition. Everyone realized that it was she who had gotten things off the ground.
They all made their way into dining room and the parents gasped in delight at the fun way Barry had set everything up. Even June had to smile about the arrangement, which, to her surprise; really did somehow liven up the occasion.
After a delicious meal, Lorrie ceremoniously carried out the cake she had decorated. Everyone gasped at its beauty. "Wow!" was all their mom and dad could say. The triple-decker cake was a real masterpiece. It was designed like a magic garden, with smiling figures of their parents walking side-by-side down the middle! It really made for a fitting ending to a great party. June was glad that Lorrie had done it her own way, and she had to admit that the simple, efficient cake she originally had in mind wouldn't have made nearly the same impact.
The special evening drew to a close, leaving everyone feeling good about themselves, and each other. But for June, more than anything else, it was a big lesson about how everyone, in their own way, had something important to add to the occasion, and how the special and unique talents of each of them had come together to make great things happen.
Q. How did June feel at first about the way her brother and sister wanted to do things?
A. She felt as if she knew much better what to do, and they were just ruining her party plans.
Q. Did she feel differently in the end?
A. Yes. She saw that both Lorrie and Barry had special talents that helped make the party even better.
Q. Can people who are very different learn to cooperate with each other and get along?
A. They can, but it will be easier if they keep in mind how God has made each of them different for a good reason, and how each of them has his own special gift to contribute to the world. Then they can come to actually see the differences between them as something positive.
Q. Do you think that the party would have come out better or worse if they had done everything June's way? Why?
A. The party might still have been nice, but it would have been missing a lot. Lorrie's artistic talent, and Barry's sense of humor added so much. But besides this, the feeling all the kids had that they had chipped in their talents to make the party, gave it a special feeling that would have been missing if June had done it alone.
Q. What special talent or quality do you think you have?
Ages 10 and up
Q. How can having a common goal help otherwise different types of people unite?
A. People naturally have an affinity for others that they feel that they have something in common with. This 'common denominator' can be similar interests, backgrounds, or personalities. When these things are lacking, people can feel distant from each other. Having a similar goal, or purpose is something that brings a sense of togetherness to people who otherwise might feel nothing in common.
Q. Is there any 'common denominator' that can unite the whole world?
A. Yes, we are all ultimately related, descended from the same two parents: Adam and Eve. But even more, we are all children of the One God, who put us all here together for the common purpose of making the world a better and more Godly place. When the world learns to focus on these two things we will all live peacefully united.
Q. What special talent or quality do you think you have?