Things really go south in the Jewish kingdom after Shlomo. People don’t like the next king, so the kingdom splits in two. And then, generations later, King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians come and take over. Many of the Jewish elite are exiled to Babylon, including these four young men: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Let’s see what their experiences and actions can teach us about standing up for our beliefs, especially when we’re in the minority.
How do you think the Jews felt about the Babylonians taking over?
- Surprised to have new people in their temple.
- Daniel and his friends were probably scared to be in a new, unfamiliar place.
Have you ever had to leave a place behind and go somewhere new? What is that experience like?
- I miss my old school because they had a better playground and my new school doesn’t have a playground.
- I miss my friends at my old school but now I don’t remember their names and now I have new friends.
- I miss my old school because the teachers were nicer and didn’t yell, but at least I have more friends now that I’m in kindergarten.
- I felt sad to leave my friends and my house. And I liked not having homework.
- I cried when my family had to move. I didn’t want to go and I miss being able to go to sports games in my old city.
- It’s kind of good now. I like my new school and my new friends.
- It’s boring here, there’s not as much fun stuff as in my old house.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah spent three years living in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace learning about Babylonian culture. After those three years, the king finds them to be wiser than all the other magicians in the country and they become some of his advisors and governors. A little while later, Nebuchadnezzar has a big golden statue built and invites everyone he knows to a party to worship it. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refuse to pray to the idol and get in some trouble.
How do you think Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah felt about choosing their Jewish practices while in Babylon?
- Nervous, but confident
- Aware of what they were doing
- Understanding that there could be consequences
- They were probably worried that Nebuchadnezzar would be mad if they didn’t bow down, but God would be mad if they did.
- Scared! How did they know they would be okay?
What would you have done if you had been there when Nebuchadnezzar told everyone to worship the idol?
- Trick him and run away
- Fight back
- Worship the idol
- Demand that I can not be forced to worship
Some of those are pretty brave answers! At one of the shulchanot avodah (project centers) this week was a book called “The Juice Box Bully”. It tells the story of Pete, a new kid at school who bullies others before they get a chance to bully him. He’s surprised to find that the kids in his new class have made a promise to be kind to each other and hold each other accountable. Even after he sprays juice all over another kid’s shirt, his new classmates continue to respond to him kindly and compassionately. We reflected on how much easier it was for the kids in Pete’s class to stick by their beliefs even when Pete challenged them because they had a whole group to back them up. Making good, kind choices is extra tough when the people around you aren’t doing it too!
Here are some of the things we believe in and hopefully would stand up for!
- I believe that my family loves me.
- I believe that it’s wrong to raise animals just so we can eat them [interestingly: most kiddos who said this are also meat eaters].
- I believe I am responsible for taking care of the planet.
- I believe everyone deserves to eat, no matter if they can afford to buy food. I’m not sure if I think everyone deserves to have toys even if they can’t afford them. That feels harder.