Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )
Curiosity can be a very positive trait. However, being nosy, which is like being too curious about things that don't concern us, can cause problems for ourselves and for others. In this week's Torah portion Jacob's daughter Dinah is overly curious and it leads to very destructive consequences. From this we can learn that there are times when it's better just to mind our own business.
In our story a kid finds out that sometimes too much curiosity doesn't pay.
Dave was so familiar with the boring routine of his daily walk to school, he figured he could do it in his sleep. That was a good thing too, since at 7:00 in the morning he really was often still half asleep.
But today something different greeted him on his way. The vacant lot he'd usually cut through had been fenced in with shiny aluminum panels and big "DANGER CONSTRUCTION -- KEEP OUT" signs seemed to be hanging everywhere.
Of course, Dave, being a curious kind of kid who liked to see interesting things, immediately stopped in his tracks to try to get a peek between the panels. He saw big bulldozers, tall cranes and men scurrying around in bright yellow hardhats.
Looks kinda cool. Why not get a closer look? he thought as he pushed himself further and further through the small space between the panels. He had just gotten his whole body through when he felt a heavy hand clap down on his shoulder.
"Hey kid, can't you read the signs?" a big, tall man with a handlebar mustache and a hardhat glared at him. "No one's allowed here but us workers. It's dangerous. Now get going!" He said, pointing his finger toward the gap in the fence that Dave had just squeezed through.
Not having much of a choice, the boy sheepishly did what the man said and went on his way.
Dave's school day went by more or less like all the others - boring. He was walking home when the fenced-in construction site again caught his eye.
He peeked in again, curious to see if there was anything new. Nope - same bulldozers, same cranes ... but where were all the workers? Hey they must be on lunch break or something ... hey, now I can really go see what's going on in there! Dave thought. Like a flash, Dave slipped back in between the panels. He felt like an explorer climbing over huge rolls of cables, hills of sand and stacks of metal beams.
He heard some voices coming from around the corner. Oh well, lunch break must be over, he figured, and decided to duck behind some beams so no one would see him and make him leave. Suddenly Dave heard the low rumble of an engine. Looking up he saw the big, heavy claw of the crane dangling high, right above his head and then start coming down, right at him. He tried to jump out of the way, but his foot was stuck between the beams! Oh, no!!!
"Hey, help, I'm back here!" he screamed, but his voice was nothing but a tiny squeak compared to the noisy engine. The huge claw kept coming closer and Dave didn't know what to do...
Suddenly it got very quiet. The engine noise had stopped. Dave looked up and gasped. The claw, which was almost as big as a car, had stopped coming down and was now dangling just a couple of feet over his head!
"You again!!" a big voice boomed. It was the same construction worker with the mustache he had seen before. "Do you know how close you just came to getting killed? Why, if I hadn't seen you at the last minute and stopped my machine ... tell me, just tell me, why did you come back here after I already told you how dangerous it was?" The man stared at him, waiting for an answer.
"I was ... um, curious." Even as Dave said it, he realized how dumb it sounded and how wrong he was to have almost made the biggest mistake of his life - just because he was curious.
Q. How did Dave feel at first about going into the construction site?
A. Even though he knew it was dangerous, he felt it was okay because he was curious to see something interesting.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized that being curious was no excuse to do something he shouldn't.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Dave could learn from what happened?
A. It's only natural to be curious and want to explore things that seem interesting and outside of our regular routine. However, we should first use our judgment and be sure that what we're getting into isn't potentially dangerous or destructive.
Q. What positive things do you think someone who feels bored could do to make life more interesting?
A. One thing is to try to set meaningful goals in life and do as much as we can to fulfill them. Another thing is to try to look at even familiar things and activities more closely and we'll be surprised to see how interesting they actually are.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. In your opinion what is the difference between healthy and unhealthy curiosity?
A. Healthy curiosity is when we seek knowledge that will somehow bring us practical benefit or growth. Curiosity which stems from feeling bored or wanting to know other people's secrets, is most likely unhealthy.
Q. Why do you think people seem to always want to have or experience something new and different?
A. There is a natural uplift or thrill that comes with novelty. However, many times that feeling of wanting something new or more is because we are really longing for something with spiritual meaning and once we find that we will see that we are much more content with what we already have.