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
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
SHELACH LECHA — Most likely you have found yourself in a group situation where your opinion simply does not match the group consensus? Do you speak your mind, or do you keep silent? If you choose to share your opinion, how do you go about introducing it? And if you remain quiet, do you think of it as being for the “good of the group”? In this week’s Torah portion, Shelach Lecha, a group of scouts is sent out to report back on what lies ahead for the Israelites. When ten of the twelve scouts return, ten paint a...Read More
SHELACH LECHA — Mishaps can happen to anyone. Whether it’s stubbing your toe as you get out of bed in the morning, or something more serious like forgetting your lunch at home, we all have our share of annoyances and challenges. The trick is to make sure we stay in charge of our reactions and not let a small mishap escalate to a full-blown crisis. Our Torah portion, Shelach Lecha, recounts the story of the scouts sent by the Jews to check out the Land of Israel as they drew closer. The spies’ report was very unfavorable. In fact, they seemed to...Read More
BAMIDBAR — A mother hovers over her young son climbing on monkey bars. A thirteen year-old girl’s parents won’t let her walk alone to the school bus stop two blocks away. Another parent decides what her children wear to school each day. Parents of course have the job of protecting their kids, but the question is how much should they protect. Should parents always step in when the homework is rough? Should parents call another child’s parent when their son or daughter is having a conflict with that child? Keeping children in a hothouse for all of childhood, not...Read More
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