July 24, 2024
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July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s easy to see what’s good about some people. Their virtues just seem to shine. But sometimes it’s not so easy, and it seems like we have to use a magnifying glass to find something good in a person. Our forefather, Abraham, found himself in such a situation when God told him He wanted to destroy the evil city of Sodom. Although they were pretty bad and Abraham could have easily kept quiet and went along, he didn’t. He searched and searched to try to find some good quality even there, which might persuade God to give them another chance. Like Abraham, when we are willing to seek out the hidden good qualities in others (and ourselves), we not only help to bring more good into the world, but we can help people to change for the better.

In our story, a class learns a lesson about the power of seeing the good.

 

A Touch of Class

No one was really surprised when we first saw a new teacher walk into the class. After all, this was already the third new teacher this year. Our class was trouble and everybody knew it. It seemed as if every troublemaker in the whole school had gotten lumped together in one class.

I took a close look at this new teacher. She looked nice enough, with a sweet smile on her face. But then again they all smile at the beginning until they find out what kind of class they’re up against. Then the smiles usually turn into big, mean frowns.

Kathy, the girl sitting next to me, caught me day-dreaming. “Hey Judy,” she said as she poked me on the shoulder, “How long do you think this one’s gonna last? A week?” I giggled, but deep down I wished that we could just be a normal class, with one normal teacher.

The class began, and sure enough everybody was on their best (lousy) behavior. Kathy was chatting with a kid in another class on her cellphone. Amy was snapping her fingers and humming pretty loud, her walkman headphones barely hidden behind her bushy hair, and the Cutler twins were nearly rolling on the floor with hysterical laughter for no apparent reason. And I was, let’s just say, in dreamland.

Yet in the middle of all this, Mrs. Sanders, the teacher, just kept on calmly teaching as if it was the most normal class in the world. Toward the end of the class, the teacher closed the book she was teaching from and stood up as if she was going to give a speech.

“Here it comes,” Kathy elbowed me, “the lecture about what a rotten group of kids we are…”

We had all heard it before. But instead of a lecture, what Mrs. Sanders said nearly knocked me off my chair. Still smiling, she looked at us and said, “I just wanted to tell you all how excited I am to have such a great class.”

Was this a joke? I thought. But she didn’t stop there. “You guys are all full of such energy. Some classes just sit there like frozen stones, but you kids are so alive! I’m sure we’re going to have a great year together!”

It blew us away. None of us had ever heard that kind of talk before, especially from a teacher. The next day was nearly as wild as the first, but Mrs. Sanders seemed to still really like us. She even told one of the twins that she had a nice sounding laugh. After a while, as the days and weeks went on, something amazing started happening in our class. I’m not sure why — maybe the teacher’s confidence in us was contagious or something — but we started to change. Suddenly I found myself daydreaming less and paying attention more. Kathy kept her cell phone off, and the twins only laughed when something was really funny.

Of course Mrs. Sanders kept pointing out to us how we were growing, often even before we noticed it ourselves. It was incredible how her words kept coming true. We were really starting to learn. I don’t have to tell you that it was the most incredible school year any of us had ever had.

Thanks to the teacher who saw the good in us and helped us see it in ourselves, we changed from a group of first class troublemakers into a first class class!


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. soulfoodiecom.wordpress.com/

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