VA-YISHLAH — Many people hold back on religion in their lives because they are uncomfortable with the concept of God. Does God exist? How could bad things happen to good people? Why does evil exist? These are all questions that people have addressed throughout time. Many sophisticated discussions and answers are imbedded in Jewish texts for adults to encounter and wrestle with personally. In this week’s Torah portion, Va-Yishlah, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious angel representing God. Because Jacob successfully survives this encounter, his name is changed to Israel. The translation of Israel is “to struggle with God”. The Torah is saying that to struggle with...Read More
CHAYE SARAH — Obviously, people are not all the same. We feel differently about how neat to keep our rooms, what we eat, and the activities we like. It’s easy to dwell on the differences, but there are many core similarities that we share, and we need to focus on them. Isaac and Ishmael were Abraham’s two sons. They were half-brothers from different mothers and very different in age, temperament, experiences, mannerisms, and character. Yet this week’s Torah portion, Chaye Sarah, emphasizes that when the time came to bury and mourn for their father Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael did so...Read More
VA-YERA — We use words to express so many different things: from basic things like “I’m hungry” to deeper things like “I love you.” Words have power to do good, but it is easy to forget how much harm we can do with them. We often think that our words cannot be hurtful if the person we are speaking about is not around. But with the prevalence of e-mail, texting, and twitter, seldom do our words end when we first express them. It is safe to assume that any words we say will be heard again. In this week’s...Read More
LECH LECHA — As parents, we are often handling disputes between our children. Isn’t it amazing how each child thinks he or she is justified, correct, and not at fault? Because fighting within a family is very common, our efforts have to focus everyone on the importance of living in peace. Disagreements will happen, and we may feel very justified in our positions, but that doesn’t mean that acrimony must prevail. In this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, Abraham feels forced to asks his nephew Lot to part ways. Lot had accompanied Abraham through many of his travels, but...Read More
NOAH — Snoopy begins each of his stories with the words “It was a dark and stormy night…” Even if you’re not a beagle living on top of a red doghouse, life can often feel dark and stormy. Where do you go when you’re having a tough day? Whom do you turn to when you’re having a bad night? We often turn to our families to help us through the rough patches in life. Like Snoopy, Noah had many dark and stormy nights. While it rained and poured for forty days and nights, Noah’s ark protected his family. Though...Read More
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