July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Can one person really make a difference? In our Torah portion this week, we can see that one good person, Noah, made the difference between the survival and total destruction of the human race. It was on account of Noah that the world carried on after the flood, and that you and I are here today. We can learn from here the great impact each one of us can make on our lives, and on the world, by choosing to do right.

In our story, a boy makes the personal choice to do the right thing and makes a bigger impact than he could ever have imagined.


The Calm in the Middle of the Storm

Todd sat at his desk looking out the window at the beautiful rainbow of autumn leaves on the trees around the school grounds. But a playful shove on the shoulder put his daydream to a sudden end.

You of all people should know about paying attention and taking class seriously!” chided his friend Ron, with a smile. “Especially the way you saved us all at the end of last year,” he added.

Todd smiled and shook his head as he thought back to everything that had happened the3 past spring. His class was having a serious case of spring fever, with only a few weeks to go before the big summer break. Of course even the teachers expect this and usually try to make the end of the school year, if not actually fun, then at least as interesting as possible.

Mr. Simms, the science teacher, had thought he had done just that by letting all of the students work together on a multi-media class project about weather. It really was a great idea, at least so Todd thought, but it seemed no one else in the whole class was at all interested in taking the assignment the least bit seriously.

Whenever the teacher turned his back or stepped out of the room, they would turn the model weather balloons into water balloons, make beanie hats out of the windmill propellers, and a couple of guys in the back even turned the wind machine into their own private air conditioner!

Todd also knew how to have a good time, but it seemed to him that all of this was going too far.

The teacher knew Todd was artistic, so his part of the project was to paint the backgrounds of the different types of clouds and skies for the climate displays. He had spread out the poster board and colored paints on one of the back tables and was getting down to work, when he heard a whisper over his shoulder: “Hey cartoon in some fighter jets!” said Jim, one of the ‘air-conditioned’ kids.

“Yeah, and a couple of flying saucers and don’t forget the aliens!” added Ron, laughing.

Since everybody was turning this project into a big joke, why shouldn’t Todd, too? The boys looked on expectantly for the ‘artist’ to do his work. Todd was ready to go along; since nobody else seemed to care about the project, what difference did it make whether he did or not? After all, he was only one guy.

But then he thought about it some more. They were still in school, and this was supposed to be a serious project. So what if no one else was taking it seriously, he would.

Much to the boys’ disappointment, Todd ignored their suggestions and tried his best to paint nice, normal backgrounds. He got so absorbed in the painting that he didn’t even notice the sudden eerie tension in the room. Mr. Simms had unexpectedly made the rounds of the classroom and caught everyone in their antics.

You could tell he was getting really mad, and even said something to himself about canceling the big class trip, three fun-packed days at Disney World that everyone had been waiting for the whole year! Then he walked to the front of the room, and tapped on his desk to get everyone’s attention, though this was hardly necessary since all the kids were staring breathlessly at him anyway.

“I must say how disappointed I am at everyone’s behavior,” Mr. Simms began. “The whole class has really let me down. If even one person in the class had taken the project seriously it might be different, but now I have no choice but to cancel the class trip…”

Just then, the class was stunned to see Todd shoot up his hand, as he cleared his throat to get the teacher’s attention. Mr. Simms, also surprised, called on him to speak.

“But Mr. Simms, it’s not exactly true that nobody is taking it seriously,” he said quietly, “I am.”

Then Todd pointed to his paintings lying on the table. The teacher looked at him incredulously, and walked over to get a better look, as the class held its breath.

Mr Simms saw all the hard work Todd had put into the beautiful skies and turned to the class. “I see that at least one of you is taking the project seriously. I am therefore prepared to give you all one more chance.”

You can bet after that everyone’s attitude to the project became a lot different. In the end it came out pretty well, and yes, they all went on the great trip. Everyone realized that Todd, by himself, had saved the day by standing alone to do what was right.

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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