Don't Go It Alone
Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )
Adam, the first human being, was all alone in the world, but then God revealed to him that it wasn't good for him always to be alone (Gen. 2:18) and made Eve as his partner and companion. We can learn from here the value of teaming up with others and of having friends.
In our story, a kid discovers the advantage of not going it alone.
For years, Jon had gawked at the cool-looking jars of chemicals and equipment, as he'd walk past the school chemistry lab. Now that he was finally old enough to take chemistry class in school, he couldn't wait to be able to use the lab equipment all by himself.
That's why he was so disappointed when Mr. Edwards, his teacher, had announced right at the beginning of the first class that all the kids had to pair off into lab partners and work in groups of two.
"But, can't I just do it alone?" he'd begged. "I don't need any partner - I'll just work on my own!"
The teacher wouldn't hear of it. But just then, Jon got an incredibly lucky break - Steve, the kid who'd been assigned as his partner, got called to the office right as they were about to get started.
Jon felt like the world's happiest mad scientist, as he got ready to do the experiment the teacher had described. He felt bad for all the other kids who had to double-up and share a lab table, when he got to everything all to himself!
He felt excited as he started the first experiment. Apparently, he wasn't the only excited one, as he could see and hear all the other pairs of kids laughing and happily chatting with each other as they worked together. For a second, Jon wished he also had someone to share the fun with, but he quickly pushed that thought away. After all, he was the lucky one - he was the one who got to be alone.
Jon added a chemical to the experiment test tube, just like the teacher had said and then some liquid that made it fizz. Next he poured the bubbling brew into a beaker and was about to add the next chemical when he realized he forgot whether he was supposed to add some of the green powder or the orange stuff.
He didn't know what to do. He couldn't just guess. Who knew if adding the wrong chemical wouldn't blow the whole classroom to smithereens? He should just go ask the teacher, but he was afraid to leave the frothing experiment alone and it was way too bubbly to try to carry across the room.
Standing there like a department-store dummy, Jon listened to his laughing classmates and frowned. If he had a partner like them, then one of them could just go ask the teacher for help while the other one stayed with the experiment. Then he'd be laughing, too. But now he felt more like crying...
Jon felt a slap on the shoulder. It was Steve! Jon's eyes lit up. Boy was he happy to see him!
"I forgot my lunch and my dad brought it, but now I'm raring to go... Hey, it looks like you got off to a good enough start without me," Steve said, smiling brightly and pointing to the bubbling beaker in Jon's hand. "Maybe I should just go back out?"
"No way!" Jon laughed. "Two head are better than one - and more fun! While you were getting your lunch, I was 'out to lunch' with this experiment. Now do me, er ... us a favor, partner, and go ask the teacher for help before this thing explodes!"
Q. How did Jon feel at first about doing things alone?
A. He was happy and thought it would be more fun.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. It was hard to be alone. He was lonely and happy when his partner came.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Jon learned that day?
A. He'd been disappointed when he had to team up with a friend and wanted to go it alone. But he discovered there could be a lot of advantages to teaming up and was happy when he finally did.
Q. What do you think could be some of the advantages?
A. There's the practical benefit of being able to divide a task and better get things done. But, beyond that, there's the good feeling of being able to share a fun, exciting time and also rely on each other when things get tough.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Is there ever an advantage to being alone?
A. A person alone has time to think about things and can get to know himself and a little 'alone' time is a plus. But, in general, life is happier and fuller when it's lived with family and friends.
Q. Our sages teach that a having a friend makes life feel more worth living. Why do you think that is?
A. Having a genuine friend is an invaluable gift. It makes the good times feel so much better and the hard times feel so less bad. It's worthwhile reaching out to make - and keep - good friends.