Passing Along Kindness
Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17 )
By lending our things to others in need, we pass along the kindness God has done for us. In this week's portion (Deut. 15:8), God asks us not to be 'tight-fisted' but rather help the world become a kinder place by being open-handed and willing to lend what we have.
In our story, a kid has to decide if he should lend a hand.
PASSING THE TORCH
Mike watched in dismay as his flashlight slipped out of his hands and smashed into pieces on the floor.
"Oh no!" he shouted. "What am I gonna do now without a flashlight for the overnight camping trip? I'm gonna be wandering around in the dark like a blind bat."
Suddenly, he got an idea. He wandered over to the cubby of his bunkmate, Joey, who was also packing for the same trip. He thought he'd noticed the kid had an extra flashlight. Maybe he'd let him borrow it?
"Hey, Joey," said Mike casually, as he wandered over next to the kid's cot, where his knapsack happened to be sitting. "Packing up for the trip?"
"Yeah. Isn't that what you should be doing too? You got all your gear ready?"
"Um, well, most of my gear anyway. My flashlight broke."
Mike waited to see if Joey would offer his spare.
"Wow, that's bad news. I guess you're going to have to skip the trip, unless you can figure out how to get into town and buy a new one in the next hour before we leave."
Mike jostled Joey's knapsack so some of the stuff spilled out on the bed.
"Oh, sorry about that ... hey what's this?" said Mike. "I see you have two flashlights. Maybe you can loan me one? I'll take good care of it, and I'll even put in brand new batteries for you."
"No way. That's my back-up. I've been waiting all summer for this trip, and I'm not about to find myself stuck in the woods without a flashlight if something happens to the first one. No sir."
"Hey, Joey, come on, be a good guy. You want me to end up having to stay back here with all the little kids? There's no way I can get to town and you know the counselor said he won't let anyone go who doesn't have a flashlight."
Joey looked at the kid's sad, desperate eyes. He knew it was good to lend things and he was grateful he had two ... but what if ... no! He had to help the kid out.
"Okay, Mike, I guess you can use it. But be more careful with it than you were with your own, okay?"
"You bet. Thanks!!"
"Great trip so far, huh Mike?"
"The best. Wow, it gets dark fast up here. Let me get my flashlight out of my... Oh no! It's not turning on! What happened?" Joey slapped his forehead. "I took out the old batteries and was gonna put new ones in and then I forgot! I knew something like this would happen. Why did I agree to give my spare one to you? What am I gonna do?" he wailed.
Mike looked at him with a smile, and said, "You're going to take these batteries I have in my pocket and put them in your flashlight, that's what you're gonna do!"
"What do you mean?"
"I told you I was going to put fresh batteries in your flashlight, so I brought them along so I wouldn't forget. I wanted them to be completely new for you. Here you go, bro. See? You never lose out when you do a favor for someone. Nice and bright for you now."
Joey was speechless. He wondered what he would have done if he hadn't agreed to loan Mike his flashlight. Now they both had plenty of light, both in their flashlights, and in their hearts.
Q. How did Joey feel at first about lending his things?
A. He wanted to keep them for himself.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He was glad he did it - because it was right - and because it ended up saving him from a big problem.
Q. What life lesson do you think Joey learned from what happened?
A. He'd been afraid that by being generous and lending his things he was going to lose out, but he saw how he gained so much instead. Life goes better all around when we choose to be generous.
Q. Why do you think it sometimes feels difficult to be generous and share our things?
A. It's natural to want to hold on to what we have and not share. However, when we overcome this nature and share whenever we reasonably can, we become 'super' natural and come closer to God.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. If a person only has one of something and both he and someone else equally need it - whose needs do you think should take priority? Why?
A. Although it is noble to share, this is only once we have our own minimal needs met. In such a case when we don't, it would be perfectly ethical to keep it for ourselves.
Q. Suppose we know someone isn't careful about the things he borrows and often doesn't return them. Should we still lend him when he asks us for things?
A. In that case, we needn't lend to him, unless we are ready to consider it a gift if he doesn't give it back.