> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Treat Others Right


Emor (Leviticus 21-24 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

We each have the power to choose whether to be 'hurters' or 'healers'. The choice comes down to whether we try to treat other people with respect, finding ways to make them feel good, or with disrespect, seeking to put the other guy down. This week's Torah portion describes the period of the year we are currently in, called 'counting the omer' Many centuries ago, a great tragedy took place at this time of year because some important people didn't treat each other with as much respect as they could have. So it's an especially good time to learn from that mistake and go out of our way to treat others right..


In our story, a kid learns the difference between being a hurter and a healer.


      "Hey Elephant!!"

      The big, heavyset boy looked up to see where the shout was coming from, but couldn't see anyone from where he was standing. Red-faced and angry, he continued walking down the corridor with his head down, and his spirits too.

      Joey stuck his head up from where he'd been hiding behind the staircase and grinned. That was a good one! he thought to himself.

      Suddenly, a group of kids started down the hallway and Joey got to work. One by one, Joey shot them down with nasty insults as they passed by.

     "Hey Metal-mouth! Hey Cement-head! Hey Stringbean! Hey..."

      Suddenly, Joey felt a heavy hand land on his shoulder. "Elephant," also known as Andy, had come up behind him without him realizing. Pretty quiet for such a big guy, was his first thought before true panic set in.

      "You're gonna hit me, huh? Please don't hit me, I didn't mean it! I was just kidding around!" Joey pleaded for his life and well-being with perhaps the first hint of sincerity he'd ever felt in his entire life.

Andy looked down at Joey with something like pity in his eyes. "Hit you? Why should I hit you? What would that solve?"

Joey's jaw dropped open in surprise.

"But what I do want to know is why are you calling me and everyone else those names. It's not nice," said Andy.

"What do I care? I don't know why I do it. It makes me feel bigger to make everyone upset. It's cool to insult people."

"Well, I know something that is even more cool and more powerful..." said Andy.

Oh no! thought Joey. Here it comes! He's gonna belt me!

"...and that's to make people smile!"


"Any idiot can hurt people's feelings and make ‘em feel bad. But it takes real talent to make ‘em feel good. Watch me," said Andy. "Have a great day Larry! You deserve it! Yo Mark -- good luck on your math test! Greg, you were great on the court last night! No one plays basketball like you do!"

One by one, the boys Andy called looked up, saw Andy's friendly face, and smiled and waved. They continued on down the hallway with a quicker, happier step. Andy folded his arms in satisfaction.

"What do you think?" he asked Joey. "Wanna give it a try?"

"Try!" said Andy.

Joey, still not fully sure that that the big guy wasn't going to crush him, decided to cooperate.

     "Hey Freckle-face, I mean Stuart, Happy Birthday to you! You belong in the..."

Andy elbowed him hard. "Yeah, happy birthday! Have a great day! Hey Mike, Have a great one! Hey Jack, great answer in class today! Hey Mr. Goldstein! You gave a great lecture today..."

The hall was soon a mass of laughing, smiling, kids, and teachers. Andy and Joey looked at each other happily. "Thanks, Eleph...I mean Andy. Those guys were really happy, and you and I made it happen. This even beats ranking everyone out!"

"You bet, Joey. Just don't overdo it. They might end up leaving you back a year just to keep everyone in a good mood!"


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Joey feel at first about his put-downs?
A.He felt it was fun to do

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how much better it felt to make people happy and not sad.

Something to try: At least one time today, say something to someone that you think will make them feel good.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Joey learned that day?
A. He felt he was cool and powerful to insult people and put them down, but once he experienced the power of making people feel good, his put down days were over.

Q. How do you think a person can use their words to heal and make people feel good?
A. Showing people we see the good in them—what they've accomplished, the challenges they've overcome, or just what's special about them, it can really lift them up and make a big positive, healing difference in their lives.

Spiritual exercise: Today, at least once, become a world-healer by saying something to someone that will make them feel good.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Why do you think that our words have such a power to hurt or heal?
A. It may not seem like it, but human speech is one of the most awesome forces in the universe. It is the one power we have that defines us as uniquely human. Our words enter into the other person's very soul and can bring great healing—or great destruction. Let's make sure our words are words of healing

Q. What do you think motivates people to put others down?
A. Many people feel badly about themselves and feel that if they can put someone else down, they are somehow ‘up.' But this isn't so, it only brings them down further. The most effective way to feel good ourselves is to focus on making someone else feel good.

Spiritual exercise: Today, at least once, become a world-healer by saying something to someone that will make them feel good.


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