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 — 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
CHUKAT — “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Every child knows this popular aphorism, but the sad truth is that words do matter and they can hurt. When we feel stressed, angry and frustrated, many of us speak without thinking first. Words can become daggers that wound others as well as ourselves. In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, Moses is asked to provide water for the Israelites. Just before the water flows from a rock, Moses, apparently worn out by the demands of leadership, loses his temper. Moses calls his people, “You...Read More
KORACH — Jealousy is resentment against another’s success or advantage. There is almost always a deeper, inner insecurity that is causing the jealousy. Someone’s success or advantage does not automatically cause another to feel jealous. Rather, it somehow triggers something deep inside that, in turn, causes the jealousy. In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, there is dissension amongst the ranks while the Israelites are wandering in the desert. The source of the tension is the way one group of men sees Moses and Aaron. The men believe that Moses and Aaron have taken too much of the leadership upon...Read More
NASO — Jealousy is a powerful force. Adults and children are both vulnerable to this feeling, but children are especially prone to being jealous of their friends: “He has the more expensive sneakers”, “She has straight hair”, “He’s taller than I am”, “She’s a faster runner”. The litany continues ad infinitum. In this week’s Torah portion a husband is jealous about his wife’s suspected infidelity. The Torah goes to great lengths to set out an elaborate procedure aimed at allaying his jealousy. In this way the Torah acknowledges what a destructive force jealousy can be. To address this in...Read More
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