How can we be sensitive to being influenced by, or influencing, those close to us? The behaviors we model for our children often repeat in their actions. Our expressed beliefs, the stories we tell, and the interests we pursue all have an impact on our children. We all know of families that have generations with the same hobbies, business interests, and views on life.

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Taytzay, introduces this idea of individual responsibility. There is in fact a verse that states that parents shall not be punished for the actions of their children, nor shall children be punished for the actions of their parents. This was a unique idea at the time, a true departure from judging individuals based on the actions of their families.

It can sometimes be difficult for us to step up and take responsibility for the choices that we make because it forces us to take ownership over the decisions. It is much easier for us to say that we made a choice because of what someone else said, what we read, or what we saw. It is true that our choices are shaped by our own experiences, but they are ultimately our choices, and the Torah is telling us that we must take responsibility for our actions.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about understanding that they are responsible for their actions.


  • Can you share a time that you did not take responsibility for your actions? Why didn’t you? What was the result?
  • When is a time that you did take responsibility for your actions although it may have been difficult?
  • What are some of the outside influences that help shape your choices?

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.