Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Chaye Sarah

RECONCILIATION & FORGIVENESS…

TORAH PORTION: CHAYE SARAH

chaye2Obviously, people are not all the same. We feel differently about how neat to keep our rooms, what we eat, and the activities we like. It’s easy to dwell on the differences, but there are many core similarities that we share, and we need to focus on them.

Isaac and Ishmael were Abraham’s two sons. They were half-brothers from different mothers and very different in age,  temperament, experiences, mannerisms, and character. Yet this week’s Torah portion, Chaye Sarah, emphasizes that when the time came to bury and mourn for their father Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael did so together. Even Isaac and Ishmael were able to set aside their distance and differences to focus on what united them.

Can we set aside our differences for the common good? Not everyone can or should be the same, and we often feel that another person is very wrong. But we all have much in common. While we must be realistic about acknowledging our differences, we need to focus on what unites us, such as family, values, community, and interests, and seek ways in which we can work together in harmony.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about respecting differences in family members.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Give an example of an insignificant difference between you and another family member.
  • Give an example of a major difference between you and another family member.
  • What do you have in common with that person and how can you work together?
  • Why is this important?

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.

HONORING PARENTS…

TORAH PORTION: CHAYE SARAH

chaye-sarah3In all likelihood, as children we were told to honor our parents. It’s one of those things that parents like, and by now we know why. As parents, we expect our children to listen to and do everything we want them to. In truth, though, honoring parents should not entail giving up one’s own life and dreams.

In this week’s Torah portion Abraham’s trusted servant Eliezer approached Rebecca’s father, asking for permission to bring her back as a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac. Laban, Rebecca’s brother, in utter disrespect of his father, jumped up and responded before his father could.

Ten Commandments says to “Honor your Parents”. It does not command “love” your parents. The Torah is very free with the word love in love the stranger, love your neighbor, and love God; however, it had the brilliance to recognize possible difficulties some may have with parents. At the very least, the Torah states that parents are always to be honored. Whether we agree or disagree, we must do so with deference and respect. We must look out for their needs with the same sense of responsibility they had when they cared for us. We must teach our children how to honor parents properly. Encourage them to express their opinions in a respectful way, whether or not they agree with you. And of course, model the same behavior in your own interactions with your parents. They will learn the most from that.

Talk to your kids about how honoring parents is a form of gratitude.

Connect to their lives:

  • Why honor your parents?
  • Can you name some opportunities to show honor to your parents?
  • When we are angry with our parents, how should we behave towards them?

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.

CHOOSING TO DO CHORES…

TORAH PORTION: CHAYE SARAH

chaye1Chores can be hard when forced to do them or easy and enjoyable if we choose to do them. There are ways to introduce them to our children so that they become more naturally executed responsibilities rather than an occasion for parental nagging.

This week’s Torah portion offers some clues. We meet Rebecca, who is a picture of motion and energy. She is a young woman with a jug on her shoulder on her way to the well to draw water for her family. That had to be a hard chore due to the weight of the clay jug filled with water. Rebecca must have known how important this chore of life-sustaining water was to her family. She appears very willing to complete the task. Abraham’s servant has been sent to look for a wife for Isaac. As soon as Rebecca sees him, she runs to fill her jug and gives him water, and then she runs back again to get water for his camels. Rebecca doesn’t hesitate. She chooses to be helpful. Not only does she fulfill her own obligations, but she goes beyond her duty to help others and then their animals. It’s from these qualities that Abraham’s servant realizes that she would be an excellent wife for Isaac.

We can learn from Rebecca. She doesn’t resist chores because she knows that the responsibility for her family doesn’t only lie with her parents. That responsibility is shared among adults and children alike. While on one hand children inhabit a protected island of childhood, they also have commitments to the well-being of their family. As they grow older, their responsibilities expand so that they are able to play a larger role in taking care of their family.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the importance of their taking responsibility for helping your family.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Which chores are easy you?
  • Which are hard? Why?
  • Why are chores important to do?

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.