Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for V-zot Habrachah



v-zot2We take pictures at happy occasions and we make yearbooks. These are ways in which we try to remember events or experiences. Something in our psyche intuits that there is significance beyond the present moment. It’s this drive that leads us to think about the mark we want to make in this world. Is it one of being selfish or one of fairness and kindness to all?

Torah portion V-zot Habrachah contains Moses’s parting words, his last wishes to the Jewish nation. He gives blessings, instructions, and direction. He reminds them of their individual roles as tribes along with their collective mission as a nation. His job as a leader never ends, and near his death he continues to inspire.

Think about the messages you would like to be known by. What instructions would you have for yourself, your family, and friends? How do you want to be known? Will your words be uplifting and motivating to yourself and others? We all keep developing, and we can have a profound impact on our world. How is that we want to be known?

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how they could improve in their relationships.


  • Could you be nicer to your brother or sister?/li>
  • Could you be a better member of your classroom?
  • Do you treat your friends the way you would like to be treated?
  • Do you act respectfully to your parents and grandparents?
  • How does it feel to tell someone you are sorry for the way you may have treated him/her?

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.



v-zot1We all want to be successful and happy and we want the same for our children but the road to success and happiness for ourselves or for our children is sometimes mysterious.  If we redefine success and happiness as the blessings we enjoy now in our lives, then success becomes less tied to external things.  For example, the basics such as having children, a roof over our heads, enough to eat, and work we enjoy are all blessings we might enjoy right now. We might want more for ourselves than we have now, yet it’s crucial for our own sense of happiness that we be aware of and grateful for what we have right at this moment.  It’s also important to teach children to be aware of their blessings.

In our Torah portion when Moses blesses the tribe of Zebulun and Issachar, he tells them to rejoice in their journeys and in their tents.  In other words, whether they are on a path or at home, it’s important to rejoice.  Also, it’s important to teach our children that sometimes the journey is just as important as the end result.

The ability to rejoice is another blessing we can count in our lives.  We all experience setbacks in our lives.  Focusing on the overwhelming number of positives rather than on the fewer negatives, even though those negatives seem very important at the time, can foster better perspective and balance.  The capacity to feel joy is tied directly to being able to enjoy the blessings we do have, and our own joy is contagious.  When our children witness our ability to rejoice in what we have, they will learn to do the same.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the blessings in their lives.


  • What do you think could make you happier in your life?
  • Have you ever been very upset about a situation but, now in hindsight, you realize that it was a blessing in disguise?
  • What are five blessings in your life for which you are thankful?  Why do you think it is easy to sometimes take these things for granted

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.