PASSOVER — Asking questions is essential to childhood. Doing one’s best to answer these questions is part of being a parent. Sometimes we are delighted by these questions, and at other times we are discomfited, at a loss as to how to answer them. Whichever it is, we know how important it is for our children to keep on asking questions. This coming week is time for the yearly Passover seders. The Torah and the rabbis who shaped the seders placed children’s questions at the heart of the seder. Not only are the “Four Questions” designed to specifically engage...Read More
TAZRIA — Just as the world was created through language in Genesis, we all create our personal worlds every day through speech. We can both create and destroy with words. We can hurt other people through speaking negatively about them. Speaking about people behind their back, we can harm reputations, and thereby even harm friendships and business. Reputation in our very social and interdependent world is at the heart of one’s status both personally and professionally. Jewish tradition is particularly sensitive to the power of speech and how it can be damaging. Our Torah portion this week addresses the consequences caused by speaking negatively...Read More
SHEMINI — We all become rash when we are angry. We are quick to condemn others. Anger clouds our reason, and we can accuse others without thinking clearly. When we become angry we should ask ourselves: what good motivation might this person have for his or her action that I can’t see? What am I missing that this person sees? Though we may have reason to be upset, often our own reactions are clouded by emotion, blinding us from seeing the true situation before us. In this week’s parashah, Moses gets angry with Eliezer and Itamar, two of...Read More
TZAV — Humility is a difficult trait to teach and to acquire. We must understand the difference between humility and insecurity. Insecurity is the lack of confidence in our abilities. Humility is achieved when we have the confidence in ourselves along with awareness that our abilities are in fact gifts with responsibilities. This week’s Torah portion contains a reminder to the Priests that they are there to serve with humility. Priests perform their Temple rituals in magnificent dress, but they must regularly perform very menial tasks such as cleaning the Altar in ordinary worker’s clothes. The Priests, the most...Read More
TZAV — Jewish learning is a continuous process of discovering the richness and relevance of our tradition. Many people think learning can stop when school stops. Stopping Jewish studies after 13 is all too common. This week’s Torah portion, Tzav, instructs that a small fire must burn permanently on the Altar represent the desire within each of us to connect to something bigger and higher, just as a fire always reaches upwards. This small flame also reminds each of us that we have a spark to learn and improve within us. It is our responsibility to nurture our spark...Read More
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