> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Happy From Sad

Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

Some of the happiest things in life come out of something sad. The saddest day of the Jewish year - Tisha B'Av (the ninth of the month of Av) - is a time when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem thousands of years ago and all the suffering in the world since then. Yet our sages say there will be a day (hopefully soon!) when the Holy Temple will be rebuilt, suffering will end, and Tisha B'Av will turn into a joyous holiday! So, too, many things in each of our lives that look bad at first can turn out making us very happy in the end.

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In our story, a kid finds out that bad beginnings can be the first step toward happy endings.


Debby was so excited! She and her mom had been planning it for weeks and today was the day it was all going to happen! They were redecorating her bedroom.

They'd combed catalogues for just the right touches. Debby had picked out gorgeous wallpaper from a big book of samples and a special lady - who her mother had called an 'interior decorator' - had come over to help them decide what to do.

Debby was awake and dressed for day camp extra early this morning because the workers who were coming to make her room beautiful were supposed to be there first thing.

Sure enough, the doorbell rang while she was eating her cereal. Three men, in white coveralls and holding ladders and all sorts of tools, chugged in and Debby's mother pointed out the way to her room.

"Mom, is my room really going to look as nice as those pictures we saw?"

Her mother nodded with a smile, "I certainly hope so, dear."

Debby heard some loud noises. "What's that?"

"That's the workers starting their job."

"Can I stay home from camp and watch them?" Debby pleaded.

Her mother wrinkled her nose in that way that Debby knew meant no, before she even said anything. "I don't think so. It won't be so interesting for you or for them and besides you told me your camp play's dress rehearsal is today and, remember, you're one of the lead roles aren't you?"

Debby nodded as her mom looked at her watch. "Hey we've been doing so much chatting, it's late already. You'd better go grab your daypack and get out there and wait for the bus."

Debby went out and was about to scramble down her driveway, when she just couldn't resist - she had to peek into her window and see how her beautiful new room was coming along. She pushed through the hedges, craned her neck ... and almost fainted.

She saw one man holding something that looked like a giant blow-dryer with steam coming out up against her wall, while another one was scraping off all her wallpaper, leaving nothing but an ugly pasty-white wall in its place! They weren't redecorating her room - they were ruining it! She had to run back in and tell her mom what was happening...


Oh, no, the bus is here. Feeling like she didn't have a choice, Debby reluctantly dragged herself aboard...

Eight gloomy hours later Debby got off the same bus in front of her house. She was so sure her room would look hideous that she hardly felt like walking in the door.

"Welcome home!" her mother smiled as soon as she came in. Debby nodded glumly and plopped down on the couch.

"Well?" her mom went on. "Don't you want to see your room?"

Debby sighed. Why would she want to see a disaster area? But she got up anyway and shuffled along behind her mother's bouncy step.

Debby squinted as they pushed open her bedroom door, afraid of what she'd see. But instead of the ugly mess she feared, the room looked absolutely beautiful! The best part of all was the slick, cheerful new wallpaper - just what she'd picked out, covering every inch of wall. She put out her hand to touch it.

"Nice, huh?" her mom grinned, seeing Debby's obvious pleasure. "The workers used a special machine to scrape off all the old wallpaper so that the new would be so smooth."

Oh, thought Debby, so that's what it was! she laughed to herself. What she'd thought was a disaster had really been just the first step on the way to something great!

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Debby feel at first when she peeked in at her room being worked on?
A. She felt terrible and was sure the workers were destroying her room.

Q. How did she feel when she looked later on in the day?
A. She saw how all the mess they had made was just the first step in making it look so good.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Debby might have learned from what happened?
A. She saw how sometimes what looks and feels like something bad happening is just the first stage of something very good.

Q. How can that lesson make someone happier?
A. Because, if we're going through a tough time in life, we can remind ourselves that this too could (and usually will) end up for the best.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do all bad beginnings have happy endings?
A. It depends on your perspective. In the short-term there are certainly no guarantees and in fact we see cases where it isn't so. However, from the long- term perspective, we trust that everything - even the apparent bad - is from God and that God only sends us what's for the ultimate good of our souls.

Q. The Jewish people have been waiting and praying for around two thousand years for the Jerusalem Holy Temple to be rebuilt. Why do you think it's considered so important?
A. The Holy Temple (Beit Ha-Mikdash) was more than just a big, impressive building. It was the most spiritual, God centered place in the world. It was the source of both inner peace and world peace. Rebuilding it is more than a matter of calling in a construction crew - it means we must first build ourselves spiritually to the point that God decides we're worthy of having these blessings again.


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