“A tough job needs to get done, and somebody’s got to do it.” Do these words make us feel like jumping in there… or running the other way? In this week’s portion we learn about the people who were assigned the complicated, and difficult responsibility of taking apart the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle, and carrying all the parts every time the people would travel on their long journeys through the desert. It wasn’t the lowliest of the people who got ‘stuck’ with this burden; it was the Levites, the elite among the people, who felt it a privilege to do this tough job. Those who are willing to do what needs to be done realize that taking on responsibility is not a burden, but in fact one of the greatest sources of pleasure.
In our story, two friends learn the value of taking on responsibility.
Stepping Up to Bat
Two out, and the bases were loaded. Greg, the Bears’ star pitcher, bore down on the Eagles’ batter. He wound up, and let the pitch fly. The batter swung for all he was worth…
“Strike three!! Game over!”
The Bears had won, 3-2. It had been a great game, full of tight competition, excitement and a last minute victory. The happy winners hit the locker room in high spirits.
Stuart Barron had just finished taking a shower and was surprised to see Greg already dressed and on his way out. “Hey superstar, what’s your big rush?” he asked.
Greg smiled uneasily, as he quickly slung his carry bag over his shoulder. “I’ve gotta duck outta here before coach comes in. Otherwise I’ll get stuck having to help…”
That second the locker room door flew open and in walked Coach Howard. “Oh no! Too late,” muttered Greg under his breath.
“Great game, guys!” yelled Coach Howard. “I know you’re all beat, but as usual, I need a volunteer to help me bring some equipment back into the school building. Any takers? Or do I need to volunteer someone?”
Stuart looked around. Suddenly the noisy locker room had become very quiet, and all the guys seemed to be finding it very interesting to stare at their feet. Nobody liked doing the tiresome job of putting away equipment after a game.
Stuart shrugged. He liked the coach and figured it would be nice to spend some time with him. And besides, the stuff did need to be brought in.
“I’ll do it coach, soon as I finish getting changed,” Stuart piped up, much to the other boys’ relief.
Coach Howard smiled. “Great! I’ll see you back out on the field,” he said walking out the door.
Stuart suddenly felt a hard slap on the back. He wheeled around to see Greg smirking.
“Hey Stuart! Thanks for being the sucker… I mean volunteer, and getting us off the hook!” he laughed running out of the locker room.
As Stuart got dressed, he started feeling real bad. “Maybe I really am being a sucker?” he thought to himself.
He slowly gathered his belongings and went out to the field where the coach was waiting.
“We’ll start by gathering up the bases.”
Stuart realized it was going to be hard work. “What have I gotten myself into?” he thought to himself.
But as they went around the field, it really wasn’t so bad. Coach Howard told Stuart a lot of interesting stories about his old days in the Minor Leagues. And as they were gathering up the bats, the coach stopped and picked one up.
“This is how we used to grip the bat,” he said “Nobody does it like this anymore, but try it once in a while, you’ll fool the pitcher and get a hit every time.”
After the job was done, Stuart felt great. He had gotten to know the coach much better, and learned a whole lot too. Stuart decided to volunteer after the next couple of games as well, and soon he took it on as his set job. Even though his friends would make fun of him for being a “slave,” Stuart actually started to enjoy the responsibility and began to look forward to it almost as much as the games themselves.
One day, after a vigorous practice, the coach called the team together for a special meeting.
“Guys,” he said, “I’ve decided that this team needs a captain.”
The kids perked up, as the coach continued. “And I think there is only one logical choice for the position.”
Greg, being the star pitcher, broke out into a wide smile, confident that he was about to be named as captain.
“The captain has to be a guy who takes responsibility, and is ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done. So, Stuart, please stand up and take your new captain’s hat!”
All the guys cheered, even Greg who deep down realized that Stuart was the right choice. They had come to respect Stuart’s sense of responsibility, as well as the way his playing had improved thanks to the coach’s special tips. Stuart beamed, as he placed the special cap on his head. He felt grateful that instead of running away from responsibility, he had chosen to volunteer himself onto a winning path.
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/