SHOFTIM — Dr. Seuss introduced us to the children’s book The Lorax, his 1971 children’s book that was recently remade into feature-length film. The Lorax tells the story of how the environment is destroyed by human activity and ambition. We hear the unforgettable voice of the gruff but wise Lorax, who says to the greedy Onceler. “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues!” Like the Lorax, we too learn to speak for the trees in this week’s Torah reading. Portion Shoftim includes the mitzvah to protect fruit trees from destruction. Trees should not be chopped down for the benefit of humans. This mitzvah...Read More
RE-EH — What are we willing to give to help those in need? Judaism’s word for giving, tzedakhah, translates most accurately as justice, not charity. This week’s Torah portion Re-eh offers some guidelines for giving in the Jewish tradition and introduces the idea of tithing. Tithing is giving 10 percent of your income in money, time, or products. Even though we are encouraged to be generous in our giving, the text indicates that we should not give more than 20 percent. The tradition is trying to model a balance between taking care of others and taking care of ourselves....Read More
EKEV – We lead blessed lives. Many of us have so many things to be proud of: our children, our job, the home we live in, and the list goes on. But it is often easy to get caught up in what we don’t have: if only I had received the promotion, if only our house were a little bigger. It is easy to miss the blessings amidst what we feel is lacking. Often we find ourselves demanding, “If only such-and-such were better in my life” or “Why can’t this be easier?” Yes, it is good to be striving,...Read More
BEHA’ALOTCHA — No matter how blessed we may be, it is always easy to see someone who has more, is richer, has achieved a lot, or has something that we want. In a world where very little is still private, there are TV shows that give tours of people’s huge estates, newspapers and magazines report annual salaries, and various social networking sites give us lengthy lists of others’ accomplishments. It can be hard to live without looking over one’s shoulder to see who has more than we do. However, it is just as important to look over your othershoulder...Read More
SIMCHAT TORAH — Unbridled joy is the gift that children often experience as they go through their daily lives. They are capable of so much feeling, of happiness and sadness, and with such intensity. We celebrate with them when they are happy, and we are sad when they grieve. At times it’s important not to get too caught up with our children’s emotions and to maintain a calm front in the face of their ups and downs. At other times, it’s important to get right in there and rejoice or grieve right along with them. As a parent it...Read More
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