Giving From the Best
Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )
It's nice to give away something we don't really want anyway for a good cause. But it's a great thing to give away something we do want. This week's Torah portion (Ex. 35:22) gives special praise to the women who even contributed their favorite jewelry to help build the sanctuary to God. We, too, do a great thing when we're willing to give to others even that which we'd like to keep for ourselves.
In our story, a kid faces a choice between two kinds of giving.
Lorie picked up the ringing phone.
"Hi, Lorie, it's Cyndi."
"Oh, hi Cynd - what's up? Wasn't that so crazy in class today, when..."
"Sorry Lor, I can't really talk now," Cyndi cut her off. "I'm just making a chain call for school, you know? Everyone's supposed to bring some junk tomorrow to give away."
"What do you mean?" asked Lorie, confused.
"Oh, you know. They're coming to collect used toys to send over to kids who were in that big earthquake... Wasn't that sad? It's no big deal - just bring some old toy or game you never use anymore - and they'll do the rest. Okay - I've got ten more kids on my 'call' list. Gotta fly - bye."
With that, the kid hung up.
Lorie sighed. She didn't really feel like going through her stuff, but she did feel bad about those kids, so why not?
Let's see... she thought as she took down the box of old stuff she'd meant to get rid of ages ago, but never got around to doing. There were the roller blades with the missing wheels ... no ... how about the old scrabble game that had lost a lot of letters? Nah, they probably didn't even read English there. Ah, perfect - her old Barbie doll she put away when she'd bought her new deluxe one with her allowance money. True, its hair was half bobbed off from the time she tried to play hairdresser, one of its arms was twisted and it was missing a shoe - but it was still usable, wasn't it? In fact, before she'd packed away the old doll, Lorie had thought of using it to hang on some of the extra outfits she got for her new Barbie. Feeling happy with her good deed, the girl proudly packed it into her school bag.
The next morning, Lorie woke up and was about to head off to school when she happened to glance at the newspaper headlines. 'Thousands of Earthquake Homeless' it said. Poor things ... she thought. Well at least one of those homeless kids would feel better when she got her doll.
Lorie was about to head out when she had another thought. Wow, these kids had lost so much - their homes ... and many even lost their families... She had so much more than she needed and they had so much less. Lorie looked up at the clock. The bus would be there soon, but there was still time. Acting quickly, she unzipped her school bag...
* * *
The big table in the middle of her classroom where the kids had piled their giveaways looked like a flea-bitten flea market. There was a scuffed-up half-deflated basketball, a threadbare teddy bear, missing an ear - even a gameboy with a cracked screen. But placed discretely under the big pile of junk, glowing like a princess, was a new, deluxe Barbie doll dressed in the latest outfit, which would hopefully warm the heart of the kid who got it as much as giving it had warmed the heart of its giver.
Q. How did Lorie feel at first about what to give away?
A. She felt it was enough to give something not so good that she didn't want.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt really good that she gave away something really good to people who needed it more.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. While any giving for a good cause is great - it's super great when we can actually give away something we'd like to keep for ourselves.
Q. Do you think that the kids who gave away old or broken stuff did wrong?
A. Their hearts were surely in the right place and it's never easy to give away anything. But if they'd taken the time to think about things like Lorie did, they probably could have and would have done more.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think a rich person and a poor person who both contribute the same amount of money to a charitable cause have done equally noble deeds? Why or why not?
A. While the 'bottom line' - what the recipient receives - is the same, the poor person has given much more of him or herself and therefore acted more nobly and spiritually.
Q. Should a person always give away the best things that they have?
A. It's fine to keep and enjoy our own things. However, when the opportunity arises to help out others, we should consider helping in the best way we can.