Values & Ethics - Through a Jewish Lens

Discussion Topics for Vayelech



vayelechYou probably don’t enjoy pain. Most people don’t. You probably don’t enjoy uncomfortable confrontations or difficult tasks either. It’s easy enough to take a pill to alleviate pain, but we shouldn’t be running from every tough spot. Instead, challenging situations should be seen for what they are: valuable growth opportunities.

Moses nears the end of his life. He is old and frail, but this does not stop him from making the most of his days. He uses his time to speak to his people and impart final words of guidance and wisdom. It isn’t easy for him, but it is his last chance at fulfillment.

Society has conditioned us to identify happiness in extreme comfort and the satisfaction of our material desires. Nobody likes pain, and we should certainly enjoy the world in which we live. But there’s much more to life than comfort. To accomplish our goals takes effort. We must be willing to put ourselves out there when others shy away, when someone needs help, and when confronting those who we upset or who upset us. Challenges give us the opportunity to flex our “muscles” and take another step towards becoming the person we want to be.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about applying themselves to reach their goals.


  • What makes you happy?
  • What are some of your goals in life?
  • Do you have role models who you know have pushed themselves through difficult situations?
  • How does accomplishing your goal feel after working hard?

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.



Vayelech1Disobedience is an inevitable and often unpleasant issue every parent has to confront What’s a parent to do? It helps to remember that children need to test limits at times in order to feel safe. What they are usually looking for is consistency in setting limits. When firm, appropriate boundaries are set, it’s as if a safe container has been created that holds the child secure in the knowledge that his or her parents care.

In our parsha this week, Vayelech, God tells Moses that God’s people will be disobedient and violate the covenant. Nevertheless, God keeps faith with the Children of Israel, and despite their misbehavior, brings them into the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. God does not abandon God’s people. Perhaps this is the oldest example of unconditional love.

Even though our children test us and test us again, we remain faithful to the relationship. It is important, as parents, to hold fast to the belief that our children will ultimately grow through testing us and our setting limits. It is, both fortunately and unfortunately, a process that doesn’t end, that is, until they reach adulthood!

Talk to your kids about why parents need to establish limits and consequences.

Connect to their lives:

  • Do you remember when and why you have broken rules?
  • Is it hard for you to live with rules?
  • Which rules do you think are fair, and which are unfair?
  • How do you react when rules are applied unevenly or inconsistently?

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.