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Living with the Parshah: Little Things That Count

Living with the Parshah: Little Things That Count

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Debby sat down panting on the bus next to her friend Leah. "Goodness, I can't believe we made this bus. I thought that we would for sure miss it. And plus there are loads of seats available." Debby pulled a bag of chips out of her school bag as the two discussed their day at school. She offered the chips to Leah, who took a few while nodding her thanks.

"I can't believe that new teacher, Mrs. Stein," Leah exclaimed. "She gives so much homework, and she makes us write endlessly. But she is really interesting. I guess that makes it all worth it. What have you chosen for your science project, Debby?" Debby launched into a whole explanation of her project, which was about eyes.

"I mean, cats' eyes are really neat, they glow in the dark." As Debby spoke, she nonchalantly turned to throw the now empty packet of chips out of the open window. "What are you doing?" Leah stopped her.

Debby looked at her friend, who was gazing at her with wide brown eyes.

"I'm…" Debby laughed, feeling a little uncomfortable, "I'm throwing it out the window. So that I don't drop garbage on the bus floor," she ended rather lamely, pointing to the overflowing bin by the bus door.

Leah said, "Here, you can drop it into my school bag. I'll throw it away when I get off." Debby shrugged, "There is so much garbage out there, one more bag of chips isn't going to make a major difference, if any at all."

Leah looked at her friend thoughtfully. "I don't want to sound particularly preachy or anything but this sort of reminds me about what Miss Cohen was talking about today."

"What was that?" Debby said looking interested. Both girls really liked their Hebrew studies teacher, and her classes were usually very informative. Leah continued, "She was talking about the Torah portion which is all about the Flood. The Flood was partly caused by stealing. But our sages say it wasn't regular stealing. Let's say there was a person with a basket of peas, everyone else would come and steal one pea. They would say, what difference can taking one pea make? But when lots of people each took one pea, the poor chap who bought them was left with none. Each person did just one little thing -- but they added up to something horrible."

Debby looked guilty. "You're right, I guess that I was only thinking about this little bit of garbage. Of course if everyone does the same…" Her voice trailed off. Then she said, cheerfully, "Here, give the packet back to me, I'll drop it in the bin later. We don't want to cause another Flood!"

Dr. Tali Loewenthal is Lecturer in Jewish Spirituality at University College London, director of the Chabad Research Unit, author of Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School and a frequent contributor to the Chabad.org weekly Torah reading section.
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Sarah Reedman Sacremento, Calafornia October 31, 2005

that's right! this is a very lesson for my kids. When did you start this new parsha thing? it's realllllly good. thank-you! Reply

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