> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Finding Courage

Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

It took a lot of courage for the Jewish slaves in Egypt to do things that publicly showed that the false gods of their Egyptian masters were meaningless to them. And it takes a lot of courage for us to publicly stand up for what's true and right even when it's not popular. But that's just what God asked of them - and just what He asks of us.


In our story, a kid tries to find the courage to take a stand for truth.


Wendy was taking in the sights as she scurried along with her classmates walking home from school. The other kids, who were used to the walk, hardly paid attention, but for Wendy, who'd just moved to town, everything was still new and interesting.

With one eye on the scenery and the other keeping track of which way the kids were turning so she wouldn't get lost, Wendy suddenly felt a tug on her sleeve.

"Crazy Lady's house! Quick, cross the street!" Paula said as she and the others all crossed over to the other side of the street.

"Is anything wrong? Why did we just cross? Who's 'Crazy Lady'?" Wendy asked nervously.

"Oh, we're okay now," Paula laughed. "Crazy Lady - that's the old woman who lives in that little house up ahead - can't reach us now. For the last month or so, whenever we walk by this lady comes limping out the front door of her house and yells, or more like croaks at us with the weirdest voice - but then again," she smiled, "what do you expect from somebody who's crazy?"

Sure enough, as if on cue, Wendy heard a door swing open and a bent-over old woman came limping out the doorway, making strange, loud noises while pointing back inside her house.

"There she is!" the kids half shrieked and half giggled. "She wants to catch us."

"Cra-zee, cra-zeee!" one kid taunted, while banging on the nearby trash dumpster as the others laughed.

Getting over her initial shock, Wendy slowed down and watched the woman closely. It sounded like she was trying to say the words 'help me.'

"Do you think she's okay?" Wendy asked.

"Of course not. She's crazy!" Paula sputtered.

"No, I mean, she looks like she needs help or something. Maybe we should go over there and see."

"Go to scary Crazy Lady's house? No way!" squealed Kate. Anyone who does that must be as crazy as she is!" Wendy felt bad for the woman and also felt it wasn't right the way the kids were making fun of her. She wanted to go try to help, but if she did, what would the others think of her?

The kids, still laughing, began to move on. Wendy was about to join them, then looked back. The woman, now quiet, had put down her arms and looked very sad. It would be easier to just ignore her, but it wouldn't be right...

"Guys, I'm just going over there for a minute to see if she's okay," Wendy called out to their astonished faces. She slowly walked closer to the house and when she was just outside the fence, she smiled and said, "Hello ma'am, can I be of help to you in any way?"

The woman looked up, nodded her head and pointed inside like before. Wendy edged closer to the front door and smelled a bad smell. She peeked inside the house and saw a big pile of sealed-up garbage bags that seemed to take up half the room.

"T-too h-h-hea-vy..." the woman stuttered. "I-I-I had a st-str-stroke and now c-can't lift tr-tra-trash!" Wendy noticed tears streaming down the woman's face. She went on to explain that she lived alone and each day since she'd gotten home from the hospital after the stroke, it was hard for her to walk and to speak clearly. When she'd see the group of school kids passing by she would call to them, hoping they could help her carry out the trash. But they just seemed to laugh at her and run away so now, with no choice, she had to leave all her trash piled up inside her house.

Immediately Wendy grabbed two of the bags and briskly carried them out and across the street to the dumpster. She explained to her friends, who had waited around to see what would happen and they immediately joined her. They felt bad for the woman ... and ashamed of the way they'd acted.

From then on, when the kids would walk home, instead of crossing the street to avoid 'Crazy Lady,' they made it a point to stop in and ask 'Sweet old Mrs. Simmons,' as they discovered was the woman's real name, if she needed any help - all thanks to Wendy's courage to care.


Ages 3-5

Q. How did the kids feel at first about the old woman?
A. They felt she was crazy and made fun of her.

Q. How did they feel in the end?
A. Thanks to Wendy's courage to try and help, they felt like they wanted to help the lady and were sorry they had called her names.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. When Wendy, a new kid in school, saw the rest of the kids making fun of the old woman, she could have taken the easy way out and joined them or at least said nothing. But she bravely took a stand and tried to help and in the end they all saw that it was the right thing to do.

Q. How can a person learn to become courageous like that?
A. One way is to ask ourselves in every situation 'What is the right thing to do?' instead of asking ourselves 'What will people think?' It takes courage, for sure, but we'll see that most of the time, people will also think better of us, when we show we have the guts to do what is right.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What is your definition of 'courage'?
A. There may be many definitions, but there is no greater courage than to be willing to live life according to our deepest values and convictions regardless of what other people think.

Q. How can a person discover what his or her deepest convictions are?
A. One wise man advised to consider what we would be willing to die for - and then go out and live for these things!



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