May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It isn’t pleasant, but there may be times in our lives when we encounter bullies—people who aren’t very nice to us or may even want to harm us. In these situations are we helpless or is there anything we can do to increase the odds of having a happy ending? There sure is! We learn in this week’s Torah portion our forefather Jacob’s strategy for dealing with his wicked brother Esau. First Jacob prayed to God to protect him and his family. Second, he sent messengers to Esau with pleasant words and valuable gifts, to show Esau that Jacob prefers peace. Third, in case all else fails, Jacob prepared to fight with all his strength if he had to.

In our story, a boy uses Jacob’s three-step plan to deal with a bully in his life.

 

Taking the Bait

The fish were practically jumping out of the water that day. In fact, Jon and Ethan couldn’t remember a better day of fishing at Meadowbrook Pond. But it was getting late so the boys packed up their “catch” onto the backs of their bikes and started heading home.

It was a pleasant ride along the gently curving country roads. But as the boys approached Thompson’s farm they began to tense up. Everyone knew about Chuck Thompson, the local bully, and how his favorite pastime was terrorizing anybody with enough gall to ride past his house. Chuck had a big mouth and even bigger muscles and he was known to give anybody who crossed his path a good cursing out—if they were lucky—and a black eye if they weren’t.

As they rode on, Jon noticed Ethan mumbling something under his breath. “You talking to me?” Jon called out.

Ethan smiled. “No, I was just asking God to let us ride safely past Thompson’s farm. It’s part of my plan.”

“Oh. Put in a word for me too, OK?”

As they got closer to Thompson’s farm, their hearts sank. Sitting right out on his front porch was Big Chuck holding a baseball bat!

Sure enough, when he noticed the two boys on their bikes, Chuck jumped up and started calling them all sorts of terrible names.

Jon started to turn red with anger. “Ethan, did you hear what he said?! We don’t have to take that. You know karate. Let’s go put that bully in his place!”

But Ethan motioned to his friend to calm down. “Look, if he attacks us, we will have to fight,” he whispered. “But I hope it won’t come to that. I have a plan…”

With that, the boys slowed down their bikes as they neared Chuck, who was by now blocking the road. He seemed to be waiting for the boys to answer back his insults, or try to run away. But to his surprise, Ethan got down off of his bike, waved to him with a really big smile, and said, “Hi, Chuck. Thanks for letting us ride by your place. Here’s a couple of big fish we just caught as a token of our appreciation. I hope we didn’t bother you.”

The bully looked their way and scratched his head. He seemed confused. After a moment he put down his baseball bat and came over to take the fish. “No problem,” he grumbled. “Thanks for the fish. They sure are a couple of beauties.” Chuck paused, and said, “No one has ever given me a present before. Thanks.”

The boys mounted their bikes and quickly went on their way.

“Wow, how did you do that?” asked an amazed Jon.

Ethan smiled. “The right prayer, a nice gift, and a clenched fist were all it took.”


Nesanel Yoel Safran is a writer, chef, and a teacher/student of Jewish spirituality. He blends these assorted vocations on his blog, Soul Foodie, where you can join him on mystical cooking adventures and glean practical wisdom for the kitchen—and for living. https://soulfoodiecom.wordpress.com/

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