Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Ki Tavo

DOES GRATITUDE COME NATURALLY…

TORAH PORTION: KI TAVO

Showing Gratitude for Your Blessings

Showing Gratitude - Torah Portion KI TAVOWe have many magic moments in our families. There are times for us to appreciate our accomplishments and the people in our lives. Yet gratitude does not come naturally to most people, especially children. “Don’t forget to say thank you!”… Sound familiar? We try to teach our children gratitude.

Being reluctant to express thanks is common in children. It is important to help children overcome this resistance. This week’s portion, Ki Tavo, relates the story of a farmer who has successfully produced a new crop. The first fruits have to be selected for a special ceremony to give the farmers an opportunity to think about their blessings and to say thank you properly.

Saying ‘Thank You’ is not just good manners. It is an attitude. If I feel a sense of entitlement, I will not be able to express gratitude for something I’ve received. Children often feel entitled, and we must teach them to appreciate the wonderful things in their lives. Most importantly, we must make sure to be properly grateful for our own blessings!

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

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What blessings are in your life?
  • What special gifts do you possess?
  • Why should we be thankful? How should we express it?
  • Can one person do everything alone?
  • For older children – discuss the concepts of dependence, independence, and interdependence.

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.

SHARING WHAT WE HAVE…

TORAH PORTION: KI TAVO

kitavo1Many of us in this country have an overabundance of goodness in our lives. But sometimes in our society, with its saturation of goods and services, it is difficult to be aware of this abundance. If we have enough to eat, a place to sleep, and clothes to wear, we already have more than many people in the world. Becoming aware of how much we have, we naturally begin to think about what it means to give back to this world from which we’ve so plentifully received.

In this Torah portion we are required to take a tenth of our yield and give it to those who are needy: the stranger, the orphan and the widow. The Torah ensures that those who are needy are taken care of by their community.

Teaching children to give from what they have is also important. Can they give some of their toys and books and clothes to those needier than they are? Can they share what they have? Do you have a tzedakah (charity) box in your home and put aside something every week from allowance or income? It’s important to model giving from what we have to those who need it so that children can grow up having a sense of the importance of sharing what they have.

TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN about the importance of giving to others less fortunate.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Why do you think some people have more than others?
  • What are some of the ways you can give to others who are needy?
  • How do you feel when you give to others?

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.

BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE…

TORAH PORTION: KI TAVO

ki-tavoImagine a parent bringing a six month-old baby to the doctor. The mother looks on while the baby screams and squirms as the doctor pokes and pulls and gives a shot. The same baby grows up and is now a four year old at a birthday party; her mother stops her from having that final candy that she knows will make the daughter sick. Although from the child’s perspective the mother may seem very mean, she is in fact acting with the greatest mercy and kindness imaginable.

Ki Tavo, this week’s Torah portion, describes a beautiful relationship between man and G-d. G-d promises that blessing will pursue one who chooses the path of growth. But what is “blessing”? Part of the assurance of blessing here is that the blessing and goodness will “pursue us” even though we may perceive it as unfair or difficult while it happens.

Although the girl above may not appreciate it as a youngster, her mother is providing her tremendous blessing. Things come our way in life that don’t always seem like blessings – an illness, a car accident, a disagreement. Yet we never know. An illness may be an opportunity for someone you didn’t expect to show love and caring. A disagreement with a friend can be a healthy experience in your development.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about blessings in disguise. Maybe you know someone who met his or her spouse after missing a train or flight.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What makes an event or experience good or bad?
  • When have you ever experienced something that seemed bad at first, but turned out to be very good?
  • Why is it good to look for a benefit in everything that happens to you?

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.