> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Overcoming Obstacles

Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

People tend to act differently when being watched than when they are alone, especially if the one watching is someone important. The truth is that we are always being watched, even when we're alone, and by the most important Being in the universe - God. In this week's Torah portion Jacob wakes up after God came to him in a prophetic dream and he says that if he had known that God was with him so closely in that place, he never would have gone to sleep there. We shouldn't be frightened that God is watching us, for He loves and cares about us. But we should be inspired to always do and be at our best, even when 'alone.'


In our story some kids find out that even when nobody's looking - they are being watched.


Robby and his friends were cutting through a bus parking lot on their usual chatty walk home from school.

"Hey check this out!" said Jon, holding up a can of day-glow spray paint. "It's almost full, too!"

"I guess some guy was in the middle of spraying his graffiti masterpiece when he decided to quit," added Tom.

"More likely ran away, afraid of getting caught," Jon shot back with a smile. "And there it is," he said, pointing to a bus nearby that was scrawled with graffiti.

"Well, we might as well do the guy a favor and finish the job for him," Jon laughed, as he shook the can he was holding.

Robby watched the guys, each holding a spray paint can, walking toward the bus. "Hey wait, you can't do that," he called out.

"Don't worry man. Come along, there's plenty of painting space for you too. It's a big bus you know," laughed Jon.

"I mean it's not right, you know, to vandalize people's property. It's also against the law."

Tom started waving his hands exaggeratedly in the air. "Hey, I don't see any law around here, do you? Every day we walk through here and no one's ever around. But, if you're so worried, why don't you hang back as a lookout to make sure nobody's watching."

Before Robby could answer, the guys walked toward the bus. Robby didn't know what to do. There was no way the guys were going to listen to him telling them to stop. But, also, he couldn't just let them destroy property like that. If only he knew what to do… Suddenly he got an idea.


The guys immediately threw their paint cans into a nearby garbage can and ran back to Robby. But when they got there, they saw Robby standing calmly and nobody else in sight.

"Hey, what's going on?" asked Jon. "Why did you yell like that? We didn't even get to take one spray and there's not even anyone really watching!"

"Yes there is!"

Jon turned his head quickly to all sides. "Who? Where?"

"God is watching you … me and everyone, all of the time. Now do you guys really want to let God see you doing bad stuff like for no good reason?"

"Oh come on, man..."

Tom and Jon were about to really let him have it when they suddenly heard the sound of a two-way radio. Turning quickly they saw a big police officer come out from behind one of the parked busses.

"No graffiti artists here, just a group of kids without any spray cans," they heard the policeman say into his walkie-talkie. "I'm going to scope out the other side of the lot. I'm sure we'll catch those guys who damaged all those busses the past couple of weeks soon."

The boys waited until he was out of sight before talking.

"Wow! He would have caught us red-handed!." Jon said, his face white as a sheet.

"Yeah, and we would have been blamed for those big-time vandals!" Tom added weakly.

The guys turned to Robby who was standing there, arms folded in front of his chest. "Well?" he said.

"Robby, what can we say?" Jon said. "You were right. And not only was God watching us, but He was watching out for us too. I think from now on, if we're being watched, we'd better watch what we do too."


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Robby's friends feel at first about doing not good things when nobody was watching?
A. They felt as long as nobody saw them, it was okay.

Q. How did they feel in the end?

A. They realized God is always watching what they do, so they should always try to do what's right.

Ages 6-9

Q. Why do you thing Robby yelled out what he did?
A. He wanted to give the guys a message. From the fact that they stopped doing what they were doing when they thought someone was watching proved that what they were doing was wrong - even if no one was watching. But of course someone - God - was watching them, just as He watches us all the time.

Q. When we're not sure if what we want to do is right or wrong, is there a way to help ourselves decide?
A. One way is to imagine we are being watched by (or being filmed and the film will be given to) the person we most respect in the world. We should ask ourselves 'Would I do or say this then?' If the answer is 'no', then we shouldn't do it now.

Spiritual exercise: One time each day, starting today when you are alone, remind yourself that God is watching you and cares what you do.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do you think God is aware and concerned about the minute details of people's lives, or just the 'big events'? Why?
A. It might at first seem that just as the 'big events' tend to interest us more, so, too, it is with God. However, God is infinite, and everywhere and cares so much about each of us that our every positive action, word or thought is a 'big event' to Him and gives Him tremendous pleasure.

Q. A great holy-man once wished a group of students who came to him for a blessing that they should be just as concerned of what God thinks of them, as they are what people think. How do you understand this?
A. Even though God is very real and always with us, since He isn't physical and we can't see Him it is easy to forget He's there. The sage was blessing his students that God should be as apparent and immediate in their lives and affect their actions as strongly as people that they could see right in front of them with their eyes.

Spiritual exercise: One time each day - starting today - when you are alone, remind yourself that God is watching you and cares what you do.


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