VA-YETZE — We all have something to give. By giving, we show that we are responsible for those less fortunate in our communities and, more broadly, in the world. We can give financially, starting as small as a child setting aside a small part of his or her allowance. Or we can give by volunteering our time. Especially when we feel things are missing in our own lives, helping others can help us realize how we are blessed in different ways. In this week’s Torah portion, Va-Yetze, Jacob promises to give a tenth of everything he receives. At this point,...Read More
VA-YETZE — We all plan self-improvement projects. But one mistake we often make is that we think we can change ourselves all at once. The truth is changing one’s self doesn’t happen easily. It happens slowly and by increments. In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob leaves home and a difficult family situation, lays down to sleep, and has a spectacular dream. He dreams of angels going up and down a ladder. Given the slow evolution Jacob goes through on his journey, the dream can signify that Jacob can only progress in his journey step by step. As a model for us, Jacob...Read More
VA-YETZE — There are times when we all deny the truth, especially when accused. When Adam was accused of eating the apple by God, he blamed it on Eve, and she blamed it on the snake. It’s difficult to confront people directly with the truth when we know they are lying. It can be easier to go along with whatever dishonesty another person is perpetuating rather than confront him or her. We can take a lesson from our patriarch Jacob in this week’s Torah portion, Vayetze. Laban, his father-in-law, tricked Jacob by giving him Leah first as a wife, when...Read More
TOLDOT — Nothing gets you attention at summer camp like pulling a good prank. The pranks start out small: first the boys bunk toilet papers the girls’ cabin. The girls retaliate by short-sheeting the boys’ beds. The boys hit back by putting the girls’ luggage in the dumpster and soon the boys find their own sleeping bags filled with shaving cream. Before you know it, a full-blown prank war spirals out of control between all the boys and girls in the eldest division. No one is safe from the practical jokes – or from punishment from the Camp Director....Read More
TOLDOT — Sibling rivalry occurs in all families with more than one child. It can, in many cases, be an insidious problem, and many parents are at a loss at how to deal with it. In our Torah portion, sibling rivalry becomes a lethal drama, with parents who – instead of putting a stop to the dynamic — actually participate in the competition to advance their favorite child. Esau, as the eldest son of Isaac and Rebekah, stands to obtain the preferred blessing of the eldest. However, Jacob, with his mother’s help, presents himself to his dim-eyed father pretending to...Read More
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