EKEV — What do you do when you get angry? Slam a door? Yell at someone? Just sulk? Well, if you never get angry, that’s fantastic. However, most of us do struggle with feelings of anger. We are confident that everything should be the way we want it, and when things go awry, we become insecure and angry. This week’s Torah portion, Ekev, encourages us to disavow idol worship in all its forms, even physically destroy idols. Sometimes though, the ‘idol’ isn’t really an image or sculpture; it is ourselves. Anger is a self-centered indulgence, a modern form of idolatry....Read More
BALAK — How do you react when your friend wins a prize or gets a promotion? A common reaction is jealousy. You may feel deficient when you see your neighbor or friend with something that you don’t have. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that all of us have our own set of circumstances that we need to acknowledge and accept. You may be jealous of her new car, while she is jealous that you can stay home all day. In this week’s portion, Balak, the Moabite king hired a non-Jewish prophet named Balaam to curse the Jewish nation. Balaam...Read More
CHUKAT — People lose control. We may get excessively angry or behave impulsively or destructively. We may scream at a child, eat too much, or drink. The reasons for such behavior are many. Sometimes there is a sense that something is missing in our lives, a hole we don’t know how to fill, or a difficult issue we don’t know how to address. That darkness lurks behind some of our behavior, and then suddenly, when we least expect it, erupts into unwanted behavior. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses loses control. Moses’ people are complaining yet again, this time...Read More
CHUKAT — Often children label entire groups as “weird” or “bad” or “uncool”. Sometimes they join cliques or engage in a kind of social warfare at school, with one group pitted against another. The worst example of social warfare becomes violent, such as bullying or joining gangs. Even if their children don’t engage in the worst examples of social warfare, many parents wish their children wouldn’t be so judgmental and would be more socially open to others. In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, the Children of Israel are traveling through the desert when their beloved leader, Miriam, dies. Then...Read More
KORACH — Children inevitably rebel. This can cause parents to react immediately and angrily to their recalcitrant children. Parents and children might be involved in a reflexive pattern of action and reaction, without any reflection on the part of the parents as to the deeper reasons for their child’s behavior. Perhaps a child is testing limits or feels that the limits placed on him are no longer appropriate for his age. The Book of Numbers, the fourth book of the Bible, can be thought of as the book of rebellion. First, the Israelites repeatedly complain about being in the...Read More
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