> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Work Hard and Succeed

Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

One of the best feelings there is, is to work hard at something and succeed. In this week's Torah portion, we see how Moses praised and blessed the people for accomplishing what God had asked them to do (39:42-43). We should also feel good when we accomplish what we set out to do.

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In our story, a kid discovers he has what it takes to succeed.


Okay, this piece must fit over here in the corner ... no ... maybe up here?

If Larry didn't know how big the number 1,000 was before he started his jigsaw puzzle, he certainly knew now - it was a lot!

Yeah, that's right ... but now what about this one?

He loved the colorful picture of all the birds and animals at the jungle watering hole on the box cover, and begged his parents to get it for him. But he was a little shocked to find out how small the pieces were. Just one elephant trunk was made up of five pieces!

"Larry, aren't you coming down to dinner tonight?"

"Yeah, okay, mom - just working on my puzzle."

After a world's record speed-dinner, the boy was back to work. It was his fifth, straight evening at it and although it seemed impossible when he first started, he was really getting there.

Let's see ... this pink piece must be part of the flamingo's wing ... no, it's the lion's mouth...

Now this one's part of the sky?... No ... maybe the water?

In fact, Larry couldn't remember ever trying so hard at anything. Unlike his brainy brother, for him, schoolwork just seemed go in one side of his brain and out the other. And he'd come to the conclusion a long time ago that for him - unlike his athletic sister - sports was something you watched. But this was fun, challenging and best of all, he was slowly but surely succeeding. Too bad, it was just a dumb puzzle and not something worthwhile.

Wow, it's really getting late, Larry thought as he looked at the puzzle, which by now took up nearly his whole desk. But there was so little left to do. If he could just hang on a little longer...

Okay, this piece goes here ... and this one here ... finished!

Exhausted, Larry's head hardly hit the pillow and he was fast asleep ...

He got home from school the next day and went up to his room. Why did something look different? Then he noticed. His puzzle! It was gone!!

Larry desperately searched the room. How could a thousand-piece puzzle disappear into thin air? Maybe his mom or the housekeeper had just broken it apart while cleaning his room. He shrugged. Why shouldn't they? It was just a dumb puzzle.

He shuffled down to the kitchen to get a snack.

"Hi, Larry. Did you notice anything new around here?" his mom asked, smiling.

"Oh, you mean in my room?"

"No. In the den." Now she was smiling more.

Larry walked into the den and his eyes turned the size of CD disks when he saw that on the wall, right in between his sister's swim-racing certificate and his brother's science award ... was his puzzle, mounted like a picture behind glass, in a beautiful wooden frame.

"Wow, mom - thanks! It looks so good. But why? It was only a puzzle."

"Oh, no. It's much more than that," she said. "It's setting out to do something, working hard on it for days - and not giving up! And that - even more than the beautiful picture we'll all enjoy - is something worth celebrating."

Larry hugged his Mom and looked up at his hard work hanging on the wall. It was true; he'd succeeded at what he'd set out to do - could even be, now that he'd done that once, he could do it again.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Larry feel at first about his puzzle?
A. He thought it was fun to do, but not important.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. That he'd done something special be trying hard to do something - and succeeding.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Larry learned from what happened?
A. He'd discovered the value and power of working hard on something and succeeding. A person who knows that can accomplish great things.

Q. Why do you think Larry was surprised that his mother had framed his puzzle?
A. He hadn't considered it to be anything important. But his mom helped him see that it was his success, at setting out to do something, trying hard and succeeding that was important and worth celebrating.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What steps do you think are required to complete a project?
A. The first thing is the will or desire to get something done. After that comes planning, both general and specific, followed by putting that plan into action by hard work until it's completed.

Q. If a person accomplishes through hard work something trivial or even negative, is that deserving of praise?
A. Certainly 'what' we accomplish is as, if not more, important than the fact that we've accomplished something. However, we can all appreciate the hard work put in and learn from that to work hard to accomplish positive, worthwhile goals.

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