> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Making the Impossible Possible

Passover (seventh day) (Exodus 13:17-15:26 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

When something we want to accomplish looks impossible, we have two choices: either to give up or at least try to do what we can. The Jewish people, escaping from Egyptian slavery, reached a dead end at the edge of the raging Red Sea. Getting to the other side seemed impossible and it looked like they were about to be captured again by the fast-approaching Egyptian army. But one man - Nachshon - rather than just give up, decided at least to do what he could and took a step into the sea. God then made a miracle and split the sea, letting him and the entire nation cross over safely to freedom. So, too, when we try to do what we can in any situation, we can accomplish more than we thought possible.

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In our story, a kid discovers that once you try, not everything is as impossible as it seems.


Marcia plopped down on what looked like the least petrified pile of dirty laundry of the many that dotted her bedroom and flipped open her favorite music magazine. It looked like this would be her perch until the following morning. Her mom had told her that she couldn't leave the house until her room was clean, or school the next day - whichever came first - and trying to move this mountain of mess just didn't seem worth it. Besides, even if she started now, she'd have to be cleaning straight until the school bus came - so why bother?

Then the phone rang...

"Who's making a surprise concert this afternoon?!" she excitedly asked her friend, Jan, who'd called just to make sure she'd heard right...."And you've got an extra ticket?"..."Come by in a half hour?"..."Of course I want to come! Thanks soooo much!" Marcia squealed and hung up the phone.

She jumped up to run to her closet to pick out an outfit - and tripped on a laundry pile.

"Oh, no!" She said to herself as she remembered her mother's words: 'No leaving the house until your room is spotless.'

Marcia sank back down onto the laundry pile like a wilted daisy. What would she do? What could she do? She looked at the four walls surrounding her - that is the small bit of those walls she could still see through all the mess - and sighed. Maybe ... just maybe, she could manage to clean this room in a half a month. A half a week, if she pushed it to the max. But a half an hour?... IMPOSSIBLE!!!

She picked up the phone to call Jan and tell her to forget about it, her heart breaking. Then a little thought ticked Marcia's mind like a feather... Can I just give up like that? Maybe I can at least try first.

The girl stood up and wanted to flop right back down in despair. But she stood her ground and bravely lifted one strewn sock and tossed it into the empty hamper - after all, who needed a hamper when you had a whole room to toss things in, instead? - then another. Soon she was scooping up laundry like a snowplow in December until all the laundry was off the floor.

Marcia looked at her watch. Could it be that all of that took only ten minutes? But there was still so much to do! She grabbed a broom she hadn't even known was in her room before she cleared out the debris that had buried it and swept the riverbed of old magazines, art supplies, dust bunnies and candy wrappers into a big pile in the middle of her room. Frantically sorting and tossing, she watched the junk mountain shrink before her very eyes.

Twenty-two minutes and the room was done! A miracle!

She had just put the finishing touches on the outfit she'd pulled together - it was easy when you could actually get to your closet! - when her mom knocked on her door.

"Marcia, your friends Jan and Sandy are at the door to see you. If they want you to come out with them, I'm afraid you'll just have to tell her that you can't go until..." then, pushing open the door, Marcia's mom's eyes flew open in surprise, then crinkled into a pleased smile.

"Room's clean, right Mom?" Marcia beamed.

"As a whistle." Her mother nodded warmly, giving Marcia the little salute the girl knew meant she was free to go.

"I'm sorry it was such short notice." Jan said. "I hope it wasn't too hard for you to get ready so fast," Jan said.

Nothing's too hard, Marcia thought, once you decide to jump in and try doing what you can.


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Ages 3-5

Q. What life-lesson do you think Marcia learned from what happened?
A. She'd branded cleaning her room - especially doing it quickly - as an impossible task. However, when motivated by her wanting to go out with her friends, she made herself give it a try, and she discovered it wasn't impossible after all. Not everything that seems impossible - is.

Q. Is there anything that's truly impossible?
A. Of course, there are some things that are simply beyond the laws of nature and no one can presume to accomplish them. For instance, no matter how much one wishes he could fly like a bird - he can't. However, there are many other things, accomplishments, etc., that feel impossible, but once we try to do what we can, we'll find that they were possible after all.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you think Karen learned that day?
A. She'd seen getting an umbrella in a hot dry summer as bad luck. But when it unexpectedly rained, she realized that sometimes things that seemed random and unfortunate were really part of God's plan to give her what she needs.

Q. Do we always see why things are for our best?
A. No. Many, if not most of the time we don't. Still, we should remember that noting is random and God is working 'behind the scenes' and sending us what we best need for our ultimate good and personal growth.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Why do you think many things that seem so impossible at first are actually doable?
A. One reason is that before we attempt any challenging task, there is part of us motivated by inertia and fear that tries to hold us back. One way it does so is by making the task appear more formidable than it really is. Once we get past that barrier, we're often surprised at how easily things go.

Q. How can thinking about the miracles of Passover empower us in our own lives?
A. The Jewish people were lowly slaves in a terrible physical and spiritual state. Yet, through God's miracles, they became a great spiritual nation until today. We too as individuals, even if we're feeling down and lowly, if we never stop trying to do what we can in every situation to improve our lives, may very well see God's miracles too.


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