Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Emor

KINDNESS TO ANIMALS…

TORAH PORTION: EMOR

Emor1We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves how important it is to be kind to one another. We speak about seeing each person’s humanity and treating others the way that we would want to be treated. But what happens when that “other” is not a person but an animal? We must remember that respect for the living creatures in this world is also an important value.

This week’s Torah portion includes laws about properly treating animals. The very fact that these laws exist says a lot about Judaism’s appreciation of the role of animals in our lives. Humans and animals both have emotions. The Torah is teaching us to be sensitive to the animals we encounter in our lives.

In the theme song from the 1967 musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, Charlie’s friends list all of the things they like about him. One line reads, “You are kind to all the animals and every little bird.” Being kind to animals can make us better humans. We can measure ourselves by the way we treat the world around us, and animals are part of that world.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about their encounters with animals.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What role do animals play in your life?
  • How have you been kind to or helped an animal?
  • Can you think of an example where an animal is kind to or helps a human?

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

MANAGING OUR ANGER…

TORAH PORTION: EMOR

Emor2Everyone gets angry at one time or another.  But the difference between purposeful,  productive anger and destructive anger is vast.  Appropriate anger can be used to make a point passionately, but in measured terms.  However, when we are out of control, anger can be counterproductive, making us incapable of communicating effectively.  Furthermore, it can hurt those around us and be especially hurtful and frightening to children.

In our Torah portion this week there is a story of two men fighting with one another.  One is so angry that he curses the other, using God’s name in vain.  The Torah makes clear that cursing, even when one does so in the course of anger, is not permissible.  Anger doesn’t excuse destructive behavior.

We might commit many destructive acts when we are angry.  We might throw things, slam doors, or curse.  However, when possible, controlling anger in a measured and purposeful way is the best way to model good communication. The best way to control anger is to think about what the point of the anger is before acting.   We can then make a conscious decision concerning whether getting angry is the best course of action for the situation at hand.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the destructive things people sometimes do when they get angry.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What makes you angry?
  • What do you do when you get angry?
  • How do you feel when someone else gets angry?
  • What are the best ways to manage your anger?
  • Have you ever accomplished anything lasting in anger?

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.

HOSPITALITY…

TORAH PORTION: EMOR

Emor3A great blessing one can have is the ability to give to others.  Hosting guests and taking care of them is an important way to express this.  Guests care much more about your attitude towards them than the expense or beauty of the surroundings.

This week’s Torah portion, Emor, discusses Jewish holidays. We are called upon to celebrate these holidays joyously and always instructed to make sure we are sharing the joy with others – our families as well as guests we can bring into our home.  In fact, we are taught that taking care of a guest’s needs takes precedence over one’s relationship with G-d.

We have so many great gifts, and we should enjoy them fully.  Our gift of the ability to make others happy and to give to them allows us, briefly, to be “G-d like”.  Our own enjoyment of the world is incomplete if we cannot share it with others.  Make the effort to have an open home and bring others into your world.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about making small sacrifices to have guests, such as sharing your room or possessions with a visitor.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable in another’s home?
  • What makes you comfortable in any home, no matter how humble?
  • Discuss the difference between entertaining and hosting – my party vs. the guest’s needs.
  • What sacrifices are you willing to make to have a guest and what are you not willing to do?

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.