July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

What do we do if we are asked to do something we know is wrong? What if we are ordered to? In this week’s Torah portion, Shifra and Puah, the two Jewish midwives, are faced with this dilemma. Although their job is to help the Jewish women give birth to healthy babies, Pharaoh, the wicked Egyptian king, orders them to take part in his evil plot to kill the babies as soon as they are born. The midwives realized that Pharaoh could punish them if they didn’t comply. But they also knew that what they were being asked to do was wrong, and they wouldn’t compromise their values. They stood their ground and continued to help, and not hurt the mothers and babies. We learn from these brave women how to stand up for our values, even under pressure.

In our story a boy doesn’t give in to someone who pressures him to do wrong.

 

Deep Water

“Just one more lap,” Marc Cooper told himself as he did a perfect flip-turn in the Olympic-sized swimming pool. As trainer and senior member of the Hillcrest school swim team, Marc easily outpaced the new recruits he was helping to train. Having finished his practice laps way before the other swimmers, the boy got out of the pool in order to help Kurt, the assistant coach, prepare the schedule for the upcoming meet.

He went over to Kurt and was taken aback by the strange look in his eyes. “Cooper, get over here, now!” he hissed, waving him over toward the now empty locker room.

“Come help me ‘clean out’ some of these lockers before the other guys get out of the pool.” Marc was shocked as he realized that Kurt was planning to steal money out of the boys’ wallets, and actually wanted him to help!

“I’ll be on lookout as you get the stuff,” he said. “We’ll make some easy cash, heh heh. They’ll never suspect us. And you had better do as I order, or you’re in big trouble!” he added with a snarl as he noticed Marc’s hesitation.

Reluctantly the boy made his way into the locker room. As he stood in front of the first locker, Marc’s thoughts raced. He realized that if he didn’t do as Kurt said he might get kicked off of the swim team. Not only that, who knew what an angry Kurt might decide to do to get back at him?

Marc started to open the locker door, then he pulled his hand back.

“What am I crazy?” he thought. “I never stole a thing in my life. Just because this guy is threatening me, am I going to turn into a thief? No way!”

“Hurry up, the guys are starting to come out of the pool!” barked Kurt from the corridor.

Marc knew what he had to do. The boy turned and slowly walked towards the assistant coach. “Well, how much did we get?” asked Kurt out of the side of his mouth. Marc felt scared of Kurt’s reaction but also really empowered by the knowledge that he had resisted his pressure, and done what he knew was right.

Looking him right in the eye, the boy shook his head and said, “Sorry Kurt. You had better find another partner in crime. My job around here is to help these boys and not to rip them off.”

Marc walked out of the pool complex, past the dumbfounded coach. He hoped it would all blow over and he would be able to stay on the team, but come what may, he was glad that he had stuck by his values and kept his hands clean and his head above water.


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

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