CHUKAT — “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Every child knows this popular aphorism, but the sad truth is that words do matter and they can hurt. When we feel stressed, angry and frustrated, many of us speak without thinking first. Words can become daggers that wound others as well as ourselves. In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, Moses is asked to provide water for the Israelites. Just before the water flows from a rock, Moses, apparently worn out by the demands of leadership, loses his temper. Moses calls his people, “You rebels”,...Read More
CHUKAT — People lose control. We may get excessively angry or behave impulsively or destructively. We may scream at a child, eat too much, or drink. The reasons for such behavior are many. Sometimes there is a sense that something is missing in our lives, a hole we don’t know how to fill, or a difficult issue we don’t know how to address. That darkness lurks behind some of our behavior, and then suddenly, when we least expect it, erupts into unwanted behavior. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses loses control. Moses’ people are complaining yet again, this time...Read More
CHUKAT — Often children label entire groups as “weird” or “bad” or “uncool”. Sometimes they join cliques or engage in a kind of social warfare at school, with one group pitted against another. The worst example of social warfare becomes violent, such as bullying or joining gangs. Even if their children don’t engage in the worst examples of social warfare, many parents wish their children wouldn’t be so judgmental and would be more socially open to others. In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, the Children of Israel are traveling through the desert when their beloved leader, Miriam, dies. Then...Read More
KORACH — What happens when you find yourself in a disagreement with someone? There are times when a distance grows between you that must be bridged in order to save the relationship. When that moment arrives, who will be the person who reaches out and extends the olive branch? Is reaching out to the other person first a sign of strength or a sign of weakness? On one hand, it takes a lot of character to attempt to reconcile with someone when the relationship is not going well. On the other hand, it might be seen as “giving in”...Read More
KORACH — Children inevitably rebel. This can cause parents to react immediately and angrily to their recalcitrant children. Parents and children might be involved in a reflexive pattern of action and reaction, without any reflection on the part of the parents as to the deeper reasons for their child’s behavior. Perhaps a child is testing limits or feels that the limits placed on him are no longer appropriate for his age. The Book of Numbers, the fourth book of the Bible, can be thought of as the book of rebellion. First, the Israelites repeatedly complain about being in the...Read More
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