BEHAR — “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This ditty, often recited by kids when they are called names, is designed to protect a child from the meanness of other children. But, words, truth be told, are powerful weapons. Indeed, it would be more honest to chant: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can hurt me!” Children are especially vulnerable to the words of another. In our Torah portion this week we are enjoined “not to wrong one another”, meaning not hurt one another with words. Instead we are to consider...Read More
BEHAR — Judaism is concerned with the ethics of our everyday actions, even those seemingly harmless. For example, a woman walks into a store to get information about buying an air conditioner that she has NO intention of buying in that store. She asks the proprietor of the store all kinds of questions regarding the best air conditioner to buy. Afterwards she goes home and buys her preferred air conditioner online for a better price. She’s done nothing wrong. She has just made sure she was an educated consumer— right? Wrong! According to Jewish law she misrepresented herself, acting...Read More
EMOR — We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves how important it is to be kind to one another. We speak about seeing each person’s humanity and treating others the way that we would want to be treated. But what happens when that “other” is not a person but an animal? We must remember that respect for the living creatures in this world is also an important value. This week’s Torah portion includes laws about properly treating animals. The very fact that these laws exist says a lot about Judaism’s appreciation of the role of animals in our...Read More
EMOR — A great blessing one can have is the ability to give to others. Hosting guests and taking care of them is an important way to express this. Guests care much more about your attitude towards them than the expense or beauty of the surroundings. This week’s Torah portion, Emor, discusses Jewish holidays. We are called upon to celebrate these holidays joyously and always instructed to make sure we are sharing the joy with others – our families as well as guests we can bring into our home. In fact, we are taught that taking care of a...Read More
EMOR — Everyone gets angry at one time or another. But the difference between purposeful, productive anger and destructive anger is vast. Appropriate anger can be used to make a point passionately, but in measured terms. However, when we are out of control, anger can be counterproductive, making us incapable of communicating effectively. Furthermore, it can hurt those around us and be especially hurtful and frightening to children. In our Torah portion this week there is a story of two men fighting with one another. One is so angry that he curses the other, using God’s name in vain. ...Read More
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