Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics about Leadership – Page 2

LEADERSHIP—BRINGING OUT THE BEST IN OTHERS…

TORAH PORTION: BEHA’ALOTECHA

Beha1Being a good leader at work and at home is a difficult task.  But being a good leader does not mean necessarily that we are in control.  It may mean being the one who promotes the strengths of others.  The problem is that often, when we see the strengths of others, we are threatened. Somehow, we think, their strengths mean the diminishment of our own.  It’s either “they have the power” or “I have the power.” Sharing leadership is a real challenge for anyone.

In our Torah portion this week it is reported to Moses that two men are prophesying in the camp. Instead of being threatened, Moses welcomes them.  He says “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets!”  Moses, supreme prophet and leader that he is, recognizes that sharing power is the best kind of leadership.  A leader should encourage and facilitate leadership in others.

Teaching this kind of leadership to children is difficult.  There are always battles for control between parents and children.  However, a good model of parenting is one in which parents see their children as partners in the enterprise of raising a family.  As the child grows, he or she can take on more and more of the leadership in the home.  In this way the child learns that the best kind of leaders are those that promote leadership in others.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about Moses as a model of a good leader.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What qualities make the best kind of leader?
  • When and how do you act like a leader?
  • Is it harder to be a leader or a follower?

By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.

YOUR LIVING WILL…

TORAH PORTION: V-ZOT HABRACHAH

v-zot2We take pictures at happy occasions and we make yearbooks. These are ways in which we try to remember events or experiences. Something in our psyche intuits that there is significance beyond the present moment. It’s this drive that leads us to think about the mark we want to make in this world. Is it one of being selfish or one of fairness and kindness to all?

Torah portion V-zot Habrachah contains Moses’s parting words, his last wishes to the Jewish nation. He gives blessings, instructions, and direction. He reminds them of their individual roles as tribes along with their collective mission as a nation. His job as a leader never ends, and near his death he continues to inspire.

Think about the messages you would like to be known by. What instructions would you have for yourself, your family, and friends? How do you want to be known? Will your words be uplifting and motivating to yourself and others? We all keep developing, and we can have a profound impact on our world. How is that we want to be known?

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how they could improve in their relationships.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Could you be nicer to your brother or sister?/li>
  • Could you be a better member of your classroom?
  • Do you treat your friends the way you would like to be treated?
  • Do you act respectfully to your parents and grandparents?
  • How does it feel to tell someone you are sorry for the way you may have treated him/her?

By Rabbi Moshe Becker

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.

LISTEN TO ALL SIDES…

TORAH PORTION:DEVARIM

devarim2We often jump to conclusions.  A child walks into a new class and quickly decides who is ‘cool’ and who is not.  We may witness an interaction between spouses or a parent and child and immediately decide that someone is being abusive or disrespectful, even though we lack any knowledge of the context. Sometimes our judgment calls are on target and sometimes they aren’t.

 In Devarim, this week’s Torah portion, Moses recounts the instructions he gave to the first group of judges he appointed. These instructions are repeated to remind us of their importance and timelessness.  Moses emphasizes the importance of listening – paying close attention and patiently listening to all sides. The judge must ignore external factors and do his best to learn as much as he can about the litigants and their arguments. Only then is he qualified to judge. If he can’t accomplish this, he must consult with a higher ranking judge.

We are all judges. We are hard-wired to make quick decisions about things happening around us. This is a crucial capacity when one is in danger, but this ability can be a handicap in one’s relationships. When it comes to other people, we must be careful to learn as much as we can about them and their circumstances before forming opinions. The not-cool kid in the class may very well become your closest friend!

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the uniqueness of every individual and the complexity of every situation.  Listen, evaluate, consider.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Have you ever had your opinion of someone change after getting to know the person  better?
  • Have you ever felt that others jumped to conclusions about you?
  • Think of a situation that would look bad if a person watching doesn’t know the facts.

By Rabbi Moshe Becker

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.

IS IT FAIR?

TORAH PORTION: PINCHAS

pinchas3“It’s not fair” is a refrain we often hear from children. A child may be jealous of what a friend has or may think he or she should have beenchosen for a position on a sports team. Although most of us eventually stop whining, deep down we do think in terms of what is fair.

In this week’s Torah portion we meet Zelophehad, who died before the Jews arrived in the land of Israel. His four daughters were concerned that his portion of the land would be lost because he had no sons. They objected, saying it’s unfair that women cannot inherit their father’s land. Moses asked God what to do, and God felt the women’s request was fair. Thousands of years ago the entire section of Jewish inheritance law was changed to reflect fairness and dedicated to the daughters of Zelophehad.

Much of our engagement with the world around us arises from our sense of fairness. It is because we believe in fairness that we expect our hard work to translate into success. We often choose to step in to correct something that we believe is wrong, either by getting involved in a charitable cause or in community activism. It’s our sense of fairness telling us that the world can be a better place.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about being open to fairness and how it makes a better world.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Is it fair that some people are tall and some short?
  • What is the difference between fairness and equality?
  • Describe something around you that seems unfair.
  • How does fairness help create a better world?

By Rabbi Moshe Becker

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.

IGNITING CURIOSITY’S FLAME…

TORAH PORTION: BEHA’ALOTECHA

beha3A child’s face lighting up can light up the world. It most certainly will light up his or her parents’ hearts. Children are naturally curious, and their faces light up with understanding and delight. It’s up to us as parents and teachers to keep encouraging and nurturing that curiosity. When children ask a question and you don’t know the answer, look it up with them, or encourage them to look for the answer themselves. That is the beginning of education and using resources to follow one’s own curiosity into deeper understanding.

This week’s Torah portion describes the seven lamps that light up the sanctuary. The lamps can be seen as education, the way we light up the minds and hearts of our children. Education is not only a matter of school and academic learning. Children explore the world in all kinds of ways, with their bodies, their souls, their minds. It’s important to encourage a child’s natural ability and his or her own way of discovering the world.

We need to support the kind of education that nurtures a child’s curiosity. Education is not only a matter of mastering bodies of information. It’s about questioning and exploring, lifelong habits that will serve your child well. Our own Jewish sources illustrate traditions of questioning and responding to those questions over generations. Invite your children to join the Jewish conversation with their own questions and thoughts about things like God, the Jewish people, and what we practice ritually.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about what questions they wish they could answer.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What are you most curious about?
  • How do you go about finding out things?
  • What other ways might you find the answers you are looking for?
  • How does it feel to learn new interesting information?

By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.