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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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The Real Scoop

Safran-110113

A lot of life comes down to one choice – are we committed to things and behaviors that have real, lasting value, or are we ready to give them up for a momentary thrill?

When Esav saw Yaakov with some delicious looking food he was so overcome he was willing to trade his birthright, which would have given him and his descendants special spiritual privileges forever, in order to have some. When he later regretted his decision, it was too late. It’s important to remember that fun is fine, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of things that really count.

In our story, Riki has to decide whether to stay in for the long haul.

It was the end of a great night out. The rain that had been falling non-stop for nearly a week had finally let up. Riki and her friend Laya were in a great mood and a stop at the ice cream shop was just the thing to make the night complete.

Maybe it was the loud music, or the bright lights, but the place just kind of made you feel like you had left earth and entered “planet ice cream.” The waitress came and all the kids ordered.

“Whatchya gonna have, Rik?” asked Laya. “I personally recommend the Double Fudge Sundae. Its chocolate heaven!”

Riki looked at her rail-thin friend, and laughed. “Maybe its heaven for you, but for me it might be just the opposite. It’s not exactly on my diet, you know!” Riki, unlike her friend, was a bit chubby, and she felt proud that she had been able to faithfully follow the diet her nutritionist had given her for the last two months. Staying on it made her look great, and feel great about herself too.

But Riki had to admit that the ice cream looked scrumptious. Besides, what harm could one sundae really do? She felt her resolve melting faster than ice cream in a microwave.

Why not have a good time? she thought. “I’ll take the same, please!” she told the waitress on impulse, and handed in her menu.

“Way to go!” Laya said with a smile. “I hate to eat alone.”

When the orders arrived Laya began to dig in. As she happily inhaled her sundae, Riki seemed to be having second thoughts. Her friend noticed her squirming uncomfortably in her seat, her ice cream untouched.

“What’s the matter, Rik? They forgot to give you a spoon?” teased Laya, already down to her second scoop.

Riki laughed and decided to dig in. “Nope! Got it right here,” she said, holding up the long silvery spoon. “And you better watch out, ’cause I’m gonna catch up with you in about half a minute.”

Riki dug the spoon deep into the chocolaty mountain and brought it to her mouth. She just knew it was going to be as delicious as it looked. But just as she was about to take a bite, something inside made her pull back. What am I doing? she thought to herself. I’ve been working so hard for the last two months to stay on my diet. I’m healthier. I’m happier. Do I really want go and blow all that in one fell “scoop”? Once I start, it’s going to be really hard to stop. It’s not worth it!

Riki pushed the plate away and felt an immediate sense of relief. Noticing her friend’s surprised glance, Riki smiled and said, “Well, Laya, it looks like you may have won the ice cream race, but at least I won the ‘Battle of the Bulge!’”

Questions

Ages 3-5

Q. How did Riki feel when she first decided to order the ice cream?

A. She felt an urge to eat it even though it wasn’t on her diet and it wouldn’t be good for her.

Q. How did she feel after she decided not to eat it after all?

A. She felt great that she was able to control her impulse, and act in a way she knew would really be better for her in the end.

Ages 6-9

Q. Why would a person ever hold himself back from doing something that he feels like?

A. Often by holding back from doing one thing, we’re able to gain something else that we want even more. In the story, Riki held back from the short-term pleasure of the ice cream so she could maintain her commitment to her diet, which in the long term was more valuable to her. Another example would be someone who resists an urge to smoke because he would prefer having healthy lungs and the best chance of a long life.

About the Author: Nesanel Yoel Safran is a published writer and yeshiva cook. He has been studying Torah for the last 25 years, and lives in Israel with his family.


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A lot of life comes down to one choice – are we committed to things and behaviors that have real, lasting value, or are we ready to give them up for a momentary thrill?

The world was created soooo long ago that we can feel like it’s “old news.” But by just opening our eyes and seeing the amazing design of the natural world around us, we can feel like we have front-rows seats to creation. Hashem made the world and everything in it — including us — with a master plan. By tuning in to the awesome design in everything around us, we can feel connected to that plan and to Him.

What does it mean to be close to somebody else? One way is to be physically near them, but another, more spiritual way is to try to learn from them and emulate their good qualities. When the Torah instructs us to make ourselves close to, or cleave to Hashem, it doesn’t mean by trying to get to heaven in a rocket ship! Rather it means to think about Hashem and emulate His qualities of kindness, patience, fairness, etc. That is the real measure of how close a person is to G-d.

The three weeks period between the 17 of Tammuz and Tisha b’Av, besides being a time to remember and mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim, is a very special time to focus on love. The spiritual root cause of the churban and all the other tragedies of Jewish history that resulted from it was sinas chinam, disliking and hating each other for no good reason. So it only makes sense that the way to remedy this is to go out of our way, especially during these three weeks, to try to like and love each other — even for no good reason.

No one lives in a vacuum. No, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get sucked up through a vacuum cleaner hose in the pre-Pesach cleaning frenzy, it means that whether we like it or not, our environment—the people and things around us—makes a big impact on who we are.

How can a person make sure that things will work out right? By doing what is right. When Hashem told the Jewish people to rest their fields and not plant any crops every seventh year, shmitta, it was a huge test of faith, as no crops meant no food! But Hashem also told them that if they did what’s right and listen to Him, they wouldn’t lose out because He’d miraculously give them enough crops in other years to more than make up for the year of rest. And that’s what happened.

Even if nobody sees us, everything we do is being watched and recorded on video…by Hashem. Our conscience, that part of us that makes us feel guilty if we do something we shouldn’t have, is Hashem’s loving way of reminding us that He knows what we did, and knows that we’ll feel better, and become better by coming clean and putting it right.

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