> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Seeing the Right

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

Looking at people in a positive way is one of the greatest keys to a peaceful and happy life. In this week's portion (Lev. 19:15) we learn how the Torah way is to give people the benefit of the doubt.

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In our story, a kid sees that there is more than one way to see what he sees.


Dave felt high as a kite as he rolled his suitcase along the cobblestone camp sidewalk. Though he didn't mind school (usually), he loved summer camp!

He loved the camp's wide spaces and fresh air and looked forward to the long days filled with sports and swimming. But most of all he looked forward to picking up where he'd left off his camp pals, the great friends he'd made last year.

Although they'd all sworn at the end of the summer that they'd be back the next year, Dave knew that things didn't always work out the way you planned. That's why he was so thrilled when he saw Steve, his absolute best buddy from last year, coming up the sidewalk, heading his way.

"Hey Steve!" Dave called out loudly, expecting his pal to look up at him and explode with joy. But the kid didn't even lift his eyes.

That's funny, Dave thought. Must be he didn't hear me, or something. They got closer to each other, almost head to head.

"Hey pal! Great to see you, guy!" Dave said with a big smile. But Steve, wearing a blue t-shirt, just gave Dave a lukewarm look and after a slight nod, continued on his way!

Whoa! thought Dave, feeling more crushed than an ant under an eighteen-wheeler. I've heard of getting the cold shoulder, but this was an iceberg!

How could the guy act like that? Okay they hadn't seen each other in almost a year, but best buddies were best friends, weren't they? Even if the kid didn't want to be such great pals this year for some reason, the least he could have done was give him a normal, friendly 'hello.'

Suddenly his suitcase seemed like it was filled with stones as Dave dragged it to the cabin to which he'd been assigned. Maybe the summer he thought was going to be a blast was just going to be a big bust.

He walked over to his bunk-bead and was unenthusiastically beginning to unpack, when he felt a friendly slap on the back.

Looking up he saw … Steve. But now the kid, instead of the 'so what?' look he'd had on his face a minute ago, was wearing a smile the size of the George Washington bridge. He'd apparently made a quick change into last year's camp sweatshirt and was holding up his hand waiting for a 'high five.'

What a nerve! Maybe I should give the guy back a little of his own medicine and ignore him, was the thought that first crossed Dave's mind. But he always felt it was good to give people the benefit of the doubt, and besides, it did really feel good to see him.

SLAP! Dave slapped him a high five and the giggling pals started punching each other on the arm.

Still, Dave didn't feel quite right over what had happened outside and was just about to put Steve into a headlock and ask him why he'd given him the silent treatment when the cabin door swung open. Dave's mouth swung open at least as wide as the door when he looked up and saw blue-shirted Steve walking in!

... But wasn't he right here with him already?...

"Dave-o, I want you to meet my brother, Randy," Steve said. "In case you haven't noticed, we happen to be twins!"

"Wow, you're not kidding - you guys are carbon copies! But I didn't know you had a..."

"Yeah, we usually try to do our own thing," Steve said. "But this year, Randy's camp closed down so here he is - or should I say: here I am again?"

The three boys laughed as Dave - glad he hadn't put Steve down - realized that giving people the benefit of the doubt, even when it was hard, was no laughing matter.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Dave feel at first when he thought his friend was ignoring him?
A. He felt confused and hurt.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized it was his twin brother and was glad he hadn't gotten mad.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Dave learned that day?
A. When he saw that the kid he was sure was his friend, was really his twin brother, Dave realized that even when things look bad, you should try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Q. Would it have been reasonable for Dave to assume his friend was ignoring him?
A. While it would have been reasonable, a person will be much happier if he searches for reasons to judge others favorably. While what happened in the story was an extreme example, we all have times when we could look at things either positively or negatively - let's choose the positive.

Have you ever had a similar experience, when it paid to judge someone favorably? If so, write in and let us know.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. Our sages teach that God judges us they way we judge others. How do you understand this idea?
A. God does us a great favor by virtually allowing us to decide how we'd like Him to look at us. If we search to find the good in others, God will search to find the good in us.

Q. The sages also teach that we shouldn't judge others unless we've been in their situation. What does this teach us?
A. What we see in others is just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone has so many past experiences and hidden reasons they act as they do. By realizing this, we will refrain from passing judgment on others.

Have you ever had a similar experience, when it paid to judge someone favorably? If so, write in and let us know.

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