May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Nobody likes to be left out, but it happens. Sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes it happens accidentally. And sometimes it’s just mean. Arielle, recently a victim of exclusion, learned how hard it could be not knowing why. On Monday morning, a few of her friends walked into school chatting excitedly. “I still can’t stop laughing about that movie!” “I know! Hilarious!” “Next time I’m bringing a raincoat! Can you believe we got kicked out of the theater into the rain?” “I still can’t believe we got a free ride in that limo!”

Arielle’s stomach dropped. From the sound of it, her friends had a really fun weekend… WITHOUT HER! Even worse, they had all been together on Shabbat and not a word was mentioned about making plans. Arielle was heartbroken. How many times had she stood up for someone who wasn’t invited? How many hours had she spent rearranging plans to include everyone? How could her best friends leave her out of their plans? Still in shock, Arielle didn’t have the energy to confront her friends, so she did her best to avoid them throughout the morning. However, Arielle couldn’t duck them forever, particularly considering all of her (former?) besties were together with her in fifth period Geometry.

Fortunately Arielle had a plan. After third period ended, Arielle headed to the guidance counselor’s office, hoping that Dr. Blum would be free later for a “meeting.” As Arielle arrived at Dr. Blum’s office, she let out a sigh of relief. The schedule posted on the door listed fifth period as being available. She wrote her name down and went to find her math teacher to ask to be excused to meet with Dr. Blum. Mrs. Schwartz was happy to oblige, and Arielle had her way out…for now.

So, when the bell ending fourth period ended, Arielle made her way to Dr. Blum’s office. The door was already open, and Dr. Blum was standing in the doorway, with the usual bright smile on her face. “Arielle, come in.” Dr. Blum led Arielle into the room and motioned her to sit in one of the many seating options. “Make yourself at home.” Arielle chose the comfy couch and Dr. Blum pulled up a chair and handed Arielle a cup of water. Arielle thanked Dr. Blum for the drink, said a bracha, took a sip, and began to spill. (Not the water—don’t worry.) Arielle told Dr. Blum all about being left out and how she couldn’t get the nerve to talk to her friends about it. What would she say? She didn’t want to sound like a whiny baby, but her feelings were hurt. Dr. Blum listened, asked a few questions, and added a few of her own thoughts. By the time she left Dr. Blum’s office, Arielle was ready to talk to her friends about what happened.

Lunchtime. Every Monday, Arielle and her friends sat together on the picnic benches outside if the weather was nice. So, with the sun shining and the temperature a comfy 60 degrees, Arielle headed out to eat with her friends. As she approached, Arielle kept laser-focused on the reactions on the other girls’ faces, but she didn’t notice a thing out of the ordinary. Arielle sat down, reached into her lunch bag and took out her lunch. While setting out her food, Arielle began to speak to her friends, while trying to sound as “un-whiny” as possible. “Guys, I heard you had a really fun time on Motzei Shabbat.” The other girls nodded or smiled in agreement. “But why didn’t you include me? I was really hurt hearing you guys talk about how much fun you had. It’s not that I needed that fun, but I’m pretty insulted you didn’t invite me to come.” The girls all had puzzled looks on their faces. “Arielle, we thought you couldn’t make it,” began Leah, looking toward Aviva for confirmation. “Yeah,” continued Aviva. “We originally forgot to add you to the WhatsApp, but when Yakira said to include you, I think it was Tova who said you were babysitting.” Arielle shook her head. “I had a babysitting job LAST night, not on Motzei Shabbat.” Tova looked embarrassed. “Oh my gosh, Arielle. I’m so sorry. I was so sure it was Saturday night. I feel so bad. Next time we will just check with you anyway. So, so sorry.”

Well, at least Arielle’s friends didn’t ditch her purposely. This made Arielle feel better… sort of. Still, it would have been easy to just text her and ask. If Arielle’s friends really cared about her, wouldn’t they be upset she couldn’t come? Wouldn’t they have gone out of their way to make sure Arielle was babysitting? Maybe to see if she could find a substitute? So Arielle officially accepted the apology, but the others could tell she was still hurt.

So, over the next couple of weeks, Arielle’s friends went out of their way not to exclude her. They checked and double-checked with Arielle each time they made plans. Arielle could tell they were being extra careful—not only to avoid excluding her, but to exclude anyone. This made her feel better, but there was still that nagging doubt. If it was Leah or Tova or Yakira, would this have happened? Would the others not have made sure? Arielle confided these feelings in Dr. Blum the next time they met. Dr. Blum didn’t have a solution for Arielle’s concerns, but she did offer words of encouragement. “Don’t worry, Arielle. Many people take time to get over their feelings being hurt. I’m sure your friends will eventually do something to renew your faith in them.”

Fortunately, Dr. Blum’s words worked like a prophecy. That Motzei Shabbat, Arielle’s friends surprised her by taking her out for her half-birthday (so she was actually surprised!). They took Arielle to her favorite restaurant and made sure that she ordered the best thing on the menu. Afterward they went ice skating (Arielle’s favorite activity) and of course, they had the BEST time! Faith restored in her friendships, Arielle went to sleep that night happier than she had been in a while.

After leaving Mitzrayim, Bnei Yisrael arrived at a place called “Marah” due to its bitter waters. There, Hashem sweetened the water by having Moshe cast a stick into the stream. This event helped strengthen Bnei Yisrael’s faith in Hashem. But it wasn’t just the miracle that did it; it was how the miracle was performed. At Marah, Hashem did the reverse of the first plague, in which a piece of wood (the staff) ruined a water source. In order for Bnei Yisrael to have full faith in Hashem they needed more than just not being harmed by the makkot. Like Arielle (for whom not being left out was not enough), they needed a positive sign that Hashem was going out of His way to do the opposite for Bnei Yisrael. Think about this when you try to fix something, whether between you and another person, Hashem, or yourself. Figure out what you can do to actively show that you understand what is needed to be better.


Yair Daar can be reached at [email protected].

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