Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Beha’alotecha

APPRECIATING WHAT YOU HAVE…

TORAH PORTION: BEHA’ALOTCHA

Beha2No matter how blessed we may be, it is always easy to see someone who has more, is richer, has achieved a lot, or has something that we want. In a world where very little is still private, there are TV shows that give tours of people’s huge estates, newspapers and magazines report annual salaries, and various social networking sites give us lengthy lists of others’ accomplishments. It can be hard to live without looking over one’s shoulder to see who has more than we do. However, it is just as important to look over your other
shoulder and see those who have less.

In this week’s Torah portion, the Israelites are hungry in the desert for meat and they complain that the manna, which was tasty and sustaining, was not enough. They had to learn to be thankful for what they had.

In this world there will always be those who have more than we do and there will always be those who have less. The challenge is to be happy with our portion, to be thankful for what we do have. An important part of being content is to stop comparing ourselves to others. This does not mean that we cannot be ambitious or work hard to achieve, but our work must be done thoughtfully and with gratitude for what we already have.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about being thankful for what they have.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Do you ever wish for something you don’t have? What is it and why do you want it?
  • What are some of the things in your life that you are thankful for?
  • How do you show your gratitude?

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

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.

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.