"You know," David said to Ben, "I had a really good year at school. Thank G‑d."

It was the summer, and Ben and David were reminiscing over the year at school.

"Do you remember last year?" David continued. "Do you remember how I used to flunk every Jewish Studies test?"

"Yes," Ben said, "you used to kind of scrape along by somehow sending in these half-hearted assignments."

"It's funny," David said as he leaned his head back to remember. "I always thought that Jewish Studies was not for me. Math was boring but I was good at it, and history I could kind of handle. But those essays on Jewish Studies just seemed too much for me to bite!"

Ben chuckled; there had been a class joke about how much David didn't enjoy doing those assignments.

"But then," Ben said, "Mr. Benson came along."

"Yes," David said. "Mr. Benson came along… So?"

"I feel that he was one of the most inspiring teachers we've had," Ben said. "He is a teacher who managed to make us feel like we were in control of our studies and that we could do better or worse based on our choices."

"I remember," David said, "he always used to say to me: 'David, you are a sleeping lion just like the Jewish people in exile.'"

"What does that mean?" Ben asked. "Why are the Jewish people like sleeping lions?"

"Well," David said, "there was this king called Balak who didn't like the Jewish people so he got this gentile prophet Balaam to curse the Jewish people while they camped in the desert. But in the end, Balaam ended up blessing and praising the people."

"Yes," Ben said, "I am starting to remember. He said that we are like a sleeping lion because even though we are in exile and not in power and don't have a Temple, nevertheless we are compared to a sleeping lion because no one has power over us. But what does that mean? Surely there have been times when other nations have had power over us?"

"Well," said David, "the Chassidic masters say that only our bodies are in exile but our Jewish souls are free and in power. So, in fact, even though it might sometimes seem that others have power over us, really we are free—free to do mitzvot and serve G‑d"

"So as lions, we might wake up any moment," said Ben. "But only to do good things…"