MATOT/MASEI — Picture this: Mom comes home and finds broken glass in the kitchen, sticky juice and muddy footprints all over the floor, and no one in sight. Three kids and the dog are watching TV in the den. When mom comes in, everyone shouts “It wasn’t me!” and points their finger across the room. Sound familiar? It’s always easier to blame a younger sibling or the dog. It’s less scary to point your finger at someone else than to point it at yourself. Even Moses falls into this trap in this week’s Torah reading. Moses accuses Israel’s enemies...Read More
BALAK — It is hard to resist temptation. In order to do so, one must have a strong sense of right and wrong and be able to assess the situation rationally. Temptation exists everywhere in our world in varying degrees. Sometimes it comes in the question of an extra piece of dessert. Sometimes it is a less than honest way to get a better grade, and sometimes it takes even a more serious form. But there is always a price when we give in to temptation, and that price is transgressing one of our own values or ethics. In...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
BAMIDBAR — There are so many ways that we can make sure that we get the most out of our actions. Our lives are busy and, in our rush to get things done, we risk expending lots of unnecessary energy. When there is little time, what can we do to make sure that we are still creating meaningful moments and maximizing our potential? One way to do that is to create order and build rituals into our everyday lives. In this week’s Torah portion, Bamidbar, the Israelites do just that. When traveling in the desert they need to set...Read More
BECHUKOTAI — Most Americans have warm homes and enough to eat. Their children have many toys to play with. And yet, there are many people here in America and around the world who don’t have enough. Some of those people we pass on the street each day. Others are living in the margins in substandard housing or shelters. Children notice the discrepancies between those who have enough and those who don’t and try to make sense of it. Early on in their lives children can learn what it means to try to help those who don’t have enough. In this week’s...Read More
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