Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Lech Lecha

“THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE”…

TORAH PORTION: LECH-LECHA

lechlecha2Jealousy rears its ugly head when we’re least expecting it. We may feel jealous of our friend’s summer vacation plans, our brother’s charisma and charm, or our colleague’s corner office. We may be envious of people we love and people we don’t even know. We might resent a model’s shiny hair, thin waist and radiant smile, or a singer’s ability to hit an F-sharp. However, envy fogs our ability to think straight and make good choices.

In this week’s Torah reading, Lekh-Lekha, Sarah was jealous of her maid Hagar. Hagar easily became pregnant while Sarah struggled to conceive. Resentment of Hagar’s good fortune caused Sarah to treat Hagar harshly.

There will always be times when we find ourselves fueled by jealousy. However, like Sarah, we must realize that envy leads us to make poor choices and treat others unfairly. Moreover, jealousy leads us to feel dissatisfied with our own lives so that we don’t appreciate our own good fortune. As opposed to looking over someone else’s shoulder and wanting what he or she has, try to examine the blessings in your own life. When you feel jealous, remember that others are probably jealous of you as well. Try to stand in their shoes and appreciate all the wonderful things you have in your life.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the dangers of jealousy.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • When have you been jealous of others?
  • Why would someone feel jealous of you?
  • How can you remember your own good fortune when you feel envious of others?

By Yael Hammerman

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

FINDING THE COURAGE TO BEGIN…

TORAH PORTION: LECH LECHA

LechLecha1New beginnings are hard: a new school, a new job, the start of parenthood. Before one goes out on a journey, the journey is mysterious. We don’t know what to expect. It can be frightening to leave the familiar and go forward into the unknown.

Abraham, in our Torah portion, is told to leave everything he knows —his family, his birthplace and his home —and go “to a place he does not know”. Abraham had the courage to just go. There are no reports of angst or handwringing. It is instructive for us to think about what enabled Abraham to go forward and from where he got his courage.

Abraham understood the limitations of the old and the possibilities of the new. Rather than focus on the frightening and unknown, he was able to imagine the possibilities of a new situation. The positive power of his imagination gave him courage. Likewise, a child can imagine all the new friends he or she will make at a new school. An adult can envision the interesting challenges he or she will encounter at a new place of work. While what’s new can be frightening, it can also be invigorating.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how Abraham had the courage to leave his home to start a new life in a strange place.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Has something new in your life been scary for you?
  • What helps you to have courage?
  • Can we see past the frightening unknown to imagine the possibilities of a new situation?

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.

CHOOSE HARMONY…

TORAH PORTION: LECH LECHA

lechlecha3As parents, we are often handling disputes between our children. Isn’t it amazing how each child thinks he or she is justified, correct, and not at fault? Because fighting within a family is very common, our efforts have to focus everyone on the importance of living in peace. Disagreements will happen, and we may feel very justified in our positions, but that doesn’t mean that acrimony must prevail.

In this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, Abraham feels forced to asks his nephew Lot to part ways. Lot had accompanied Abraham through many of his travels, but staying together has become too difficult because their shepherds are constantly fighting. Abraham realizes that the disagreement is bound to continue, as each side was very sure of its position. Instead of allowing matters to deteriorate, Abraham chooses to put distance between himself and Lot. His goal is to preserve the harmony between them.

Separation is an extreme solution to a problem that could be handled by being willing to try to understand others. We can make that choice even when we think (or know) that the other person is wrong. Whether with a colleague, friend, or family member, there is almost always a way to maintain harmony in the face of different views, even if the solution is to agree to disagree. With creative thinking, humility, and acceptance, useless fighting can be avoided. Teach your kids to show humility, understanding, and acceptance of the views of others so they can avoid useless fighting.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about being smart enough to choose peaceful solutions.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • Give an example of a fight that you could have avoided.
  • What possible compromises can you think of that would have prevented ongoing fighting?
  • Should we always be so sure that we’re right?

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.