Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Terumah

WHAT IS INSIDE US IS MOST IMPORTANT…

TORAH PORTION: TERUMAH

TERUMAH2As we grow, we are trying to develop ourselves. We spend time on how we look, the styles we like, and how we wear our hair. Often we spend more time on what is outside us than what is inside.

This week’s Torah portion Trumah deals with building the sanctuary in the desert. Instructions are clear that the outside should be plain, orderly, neat, and clean but not showy. The inside is clearly the more important place where it is permissible to exhibit the most beautiful decorations and objects. Our bodies are our own sanctuary. Clearly, in Judaism how we develop our inside, the inner us, is most important.

Of course, it is important for people to feel good about how they look on the outside. Judaism is saying that you should look good on the outside but never
forget to focus especially on your inner development. As parents, we can help our kids develop their inner qualities. Peers have a large amount of influence over the way our kids like to look. Parents have the opportunity to be teachers to help their children develop beautiful and meaningful values that they can always carry around inside themselves.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the importance of developing inner values and ethics.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What are the best qualities inside you?
  • What other qualities would you like to possess inside?
  • How could you develop other good qualities inside?

By Fred Claar

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

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME…

TORAH PORTION: TERUMAH

Terumah1The old adage says there’s no place like home.  And it’s true, that there’s no place like home to come to at an end of a tiring work day, a business trip, or a vacation.  When children have had strange and sometimes frightening experiences or an exhausting day, it’s so comforting to come home to mom and dad and snuggle up in one’s very own bed.

This week’s parsha is about building a sanctuary, a home for God.  A sanctuary is a holy place where God will meet with human beings.  God’s home is a beautiful place, made with precious materials of gold, precious stones and wood.  There is a certain place within this beautiful home, between two cherubim specifically, that God says will be a meeting point between the divine and the human.

As we design our homes for ourselves and our children, it is important to think about how our meeting places are organized.  Are they organized around a computer or a television, or are they set up so that family members will have eye contact and conversation is facilitated?  An interesting exercise would be to scan one’s home in one’s mind eye to note how many places are focused around isolated activities and how many around simply being together with family and/or visitors.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about organizing your home to improve the quality and quantity of family time spent together.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

  • What do you like best about being home?
  • What is your favorite part of your home?
  • What is your least favorite part of your home?

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.

CHORES AND “A WILLING HEART”…

TORAH PORTION: TERUMAH

Terumah3Children often complain about homework and chores. Too much of the time they do these things unwillingly, grudgingly. Parents need to coax, chide and threaten before their child’s responsibilities are complete. Moaning and groaning ensue. In the end, most parents see to it that children learn to be responsible, but they are baffled about how to encourage a better attitude in them.

In this week’s Torah portion, the Israelites offer materials and skills to build the sanctuary. However, not everyone has to give, only “everyone whose heart makes him willing”. The people of Israel ultimately give freely and generously with an open heart, each contributing what they can in order to build the sacred sanctuary. In the end, there is more than enough.

In an ideal world, children would fulfill their responsibilities with a “willing heart” instead of whining and complaining their way through their chores. But parents have enough on their plates to see to it that children do what they have to do. No one can really force someone else to have a better attitude. The best that parents can do to is to reason with their children and to model how they themselves fulfill responsibilities. Do they do so with a heavy heart, with complaints, or do what they have to do, gladly and willingly? The more open-hearted and willing parents are, the more they can show their children how to live willingly, even joyfully, amidst the serious obligations of life.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the way they feel about their chores and obligations.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

    • Which chores are hardestfor you? Why?
    • Which parts of your homework are hardest for you? Why? What would
      help you get through it?
    • Why are chores and obligations important to do?
    • Could resisting chores be a habit? Could you develop a better attitude if you wanted?

     

 
By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses

Values & Ethics: Through a Jewish Lens is created to bring values/ethics of Judaism into family discussions.