Be Willing To Try

June 24, 2009

5 min read


Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17 )

Sometimes we can accomplish much more than we ever imagined, but only if we're willing to try. On Chanukah, our ancestors refused to give up the search for the special pure oil they needed to light the menorah-oil lamp in the Holy Temple, even though it seemed like it had all been ruined by their enemies. Not only did they find some, but in the end, God made a great miracle and the small, one-day amount of oil they found burned for the eight days they needed before they could make more! We too, can see miraculous success in our lives - but only if we're willing to try.

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In our story, a kid discovers that being willing to try can get a person farther than he'd ever imagine.


"Hey, Jon, that's not your math book!"

Jon looked up at his father over the new Sportscape catalogue he'd been avidly reading at his homework desk. "I know, Dad. I just can't get into doing homework today."

"But didn't you say that you have a big test tomorrow? How in the world do you expect to do well on it if you don't study?"

"Math's a big bore, Dad," Jon groaned, "Besides, even when I do study, I just end up tanking anyway, so why bother?"

Jon's father came closer and put his hand on his shoulder. "Checking out the scooters?" he asked, noticing the catalogue page flipped open on the boy's desk.

"Yeah!" Jon said, his eyes lighting up. "They've got the new Stingray DX-6 on sale this month, 40% off! But," he sighed, "it's still stratospheres over my budget."

"Well, I'm ready to make a deal with you, Jon. Chanukah's coming up, you bring home at least a 'B' on your math test and the DX-6 is yours."

Jon's mouth curved into a giant smile, but a second later flipped back into a jumbo frown. "But, Dad- that's impossible! It would take a miracle. I haven't gotten a 'B' on a math test since second grade. How about we make it a 'C' plus?"

"Nope. I know you, Jon, and you're perfectly capable of making the grade if you're willing to try. It's all up to you." With that, Jon's father turned and left the room.

Get a 'B' on a math test? Forget it. Dad might as well have asked me to jump to the moon!

Jon went back to his catalogue. The DX-6 looks so cool. And now I have a chance to actually get one. Could it hurt to try? Okay, maybe I'll open the math book ... just for five minutes.

The five minutes soon turned into a half an hour. Maybe it was the vision of the scooter coasting in his head, but somehow Jon finally got himself to focus on the math problems. For once, they didn't seem so impossible after all. In fact, by the time he closed the book an hour-and-a-half later, they seemed pretty easy.

Two days later...

"Hey, Jon, welcome home." his dad said. "Got your math test back yet?"

"Yeah," Jon answered softly.

"Well, did you get your 'B'?"

"Nope." The boy shook his head sadly, then suddenly whipped a paper out of his pack. "I got an 'A'!" He waved the crisp, white paper proudly like a flag in front of his mile-wide smile.

"Fantastic!" His dad slapped him on the back and as the two of the headed to the sporting goods store, Jon couldn't help feeling amazed that he was going to be getting the scooter of his dreams - and even more amazed that he'd been able to do even better in school than he'd dreamed. And to think, he wasn't even going to try!

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Jon feel at first about his dad's offer?
A. He felt it was impossible and he didn't want to try.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw that once he tried he was able to do much better than he thought.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Jon learned from what happened?
A. He'd felt that getting a good math grade was something way beyond him, yet once he gave it a try anyway, he saw he could accomplish more than he'd thought.

Q. How do you think that experience would affect his future outlook?
A. Now that he realized he can do more than he thought, he'll be braver to try even more new things - and succeed.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Our sages teach that God guides a person in the way that person wants to go. How do you understand this idea?
A. It means that if we truly focus on a goal and not let ourselves get trapped by a defeatist attitude, God will help us get there, and go beyond what we felt were our limits.

Q. Chanukah is a time of supernatural miracles. How do you think a person can bring miracles into his or her life?

A. God treats us measure for measure according to the way we choose to live. If we live in a supernatural way - that is rise above our natural human reactions, such us refraining from taking revenge, gossiping and so forth, God will go beyond nature and bring miraculous things into our lives. Try it.

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