Let's Be Friends
Chukat-Balak (Numbers 19:1-25:9 )
Everyone wants friends, but not everyone knows that one of the best ways to make friends is by giving to people. Aaron, the High Priest, was always helping and giving to others. We learn in this week's Torah portion that because of this, when Aaron passed away, the entire Jewish nation wept and mourned as if they had just lost a good friend. Giving is the secret to friendship.
In our story, a kid is at his wit's end trying to make friends until he discovers the secret of giving.
"LINKS IN THE CHAIN"
Barry slammed the door closed behind him, took off his bicycle helmet and plopped down on the sofa.
"Barry is that you?" called his mom from her office.
"Yeah, Mom," he sighed.
"Home, already?" she said greeting him. "After spending all morning tinkering with your bike and getting it into tip-top shape, I figured you'd be out riding and playing for hours."
Barry shrugged his shoulders. "Play with who? Ever since we moved into this dumb new neighborhood, I've been bored stiff. Nobody ever calls or comes by, and when I ride my bike around, all the kids treat me like I'm the invisible man."
His mother nodded her head, put down the work she was holding and sat down next to him. "Sounds like a serious problem."
"Yeah, a big one," Barry said glumly. "I think I'm going to just give up on making friends around here."
"Instead of giving up, how about giving instead?" she asked.
"I've always found that one of the best ways to make friends is to give to people. Then they just naturally come close."
"Give what though?" he asked. "I hardly have any money - unless maybe you want to double my allowance?"
"I don't mean money," his mom smiled. "Think of a way to give of yourself and share your special talents in order to help people. I bet you'll soon have more friends than you know what to do with." With that, Barry's mom went back into her office to finish her work.
Give of myself? thought Barry. What do I have to give? About all I really know how to do is ride and fix bikes. He sat a while longer on the couch, but feeling bored, he decided to go back outside and ride some more -- even if it would be by himself.
He didn't get far when he saw a kid sitting on the sidewalk next to his bike. It looked like the kid's chain had come off its gears and he was struggling unsuccessfully to get it back on.
He's doing it all wrong, Barry thought to himself. He was about to just ride past him when he remembered his mom's words - give of yourself, share your special talents to help people - and he pulled over next to the kid.
"Um, excuse me. Do you need some help?"
The kid looked up. "Oh, yeah, I guess I do. Do you know how to fix bike chains?"
"Sure," Barry replied. "Let's take a look. By the way, my name is Barry."
"I'm Greg. Nice to meet you."
As Barry worked on Greg's bike, the two of them started talking and discovered that they have a lot of in common. A few minutes later, Barry finished the job.
"Wow, thanks Barry."
"No problem, Greg. My pleasure," Barry smiled back. That's when he noticed that a couple of kids had pulled up next to them.
"Um, hi. My name is Steve," one of the kids said in a quiet voice. "You're new here, right? I see you can fix bikes. My chain also keeps coming off its gears. Do you think you could look at it?"
Several hours of fun and about five bike repairs later, it was already getting dark when Barry heard his mom calling him home from their porch. He grabbed his own bike and said, "Gotta go guys."
"Thanks for the help, Barry. And remember buddy, we're all riding out to the pond tomorrow morning at 9:00. Don't forget your bathing suit!" his new friend, Steve, called out to him as he left.
When Barry got home his mother asked, "Who are all those boys outside?"
"Just some new friends. We're going to the pond tomorrow."
"And thanks Mom. You were right about the giving idea."
Q. How did Barry feel at first about making friends in his new neighborhood?
A. He felt like he was never going to make friends.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw that once he started giving to the other kids by helping them fix their bikes he made a lot of friends
Q. What life lesson did Barry learn that day?
A. Up until then, Barry had felt that friendship was something that 'just happened' or didn't, but he discovered that there is a way to make friendships happen and that is by giving.
Q. Why do you think giving creates friendships?
A. Friendship is all about connection and the strongest way to connect with someone is by giving of yourself to help people with what they need.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Our sages teach that a person should 'buy a friend.' What do you think that means?
A. This is a message about how important friendships are to a person's happiness and wellbeing and that we should be willing to extend ourselves to create and maintain them.
Q. Should a person be willing to give anything in order to get people to like and befriend him?
A. Giving of ourselves for friendship means that we share our talents and possessions with others in a healthy positive way. If giving means acting destructively or compromising our values we shouldn't do it and know that no true friendship will require that of us.