TETZAVEH — Whether from the Book of Ecclesiastes or from the lyrics of Pete Seeger, most of us are familiar with the thought, “to everything there is a season.” This adage is followed with examples such as “a time to weep and a time to cry; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” One of the later lines reads “a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” Indeed for everything there might be a season, but that doesn’t help us determine when the right moment is. When do we keep silent and when do we...Read More
MISHPATIM — We must carefully value our speech. Words are a powerful tool. They can bring people closer or they can distance them. They can hurt or they can heal. Whether we are speaking to a family member, a friend, a teacher, a neighbor, or a stranger, our words always have an impact. Even if the person we’re speaking to doesn’t seem to care, everyone is affected by our tone and manner of speaking. If we are often insulting or disrespectful, we become a problem both to others and to ourselves. This week our Torah portion emphasizes that the...Read More
MISHPATIM — “I cannot tell a lie” are the famous words of our first president. Though it is honorable that Washington chose to tell the truth, he could have avoided lying in a different way. He could have considered the potential trouble he would end up in for chopping down the tree. Mishpatim, this week’s Torah portion, warns to avoid falsehood. The wording is unlike any other instruction or warning in the Torah. Instead of simply saying, “Don’t lie”, it states “keep far away from falsehood”. The Torah is encouraging us to be mindful of our actions and their...Read More
YITRO — People will take greater notice of our actions than they will of our boasting about them. One of the most important things we can teach our children is not to think only about themselves. Being sensitive to the feelings of others comes naturally to some, but most need guidance to develop this skill. As parents, how we model this behavior is crucial. Having a humble spirit may mean not being easily drawn into a defensive argument when criticized. In this week’s Torah portion G-d delivers the Ten Commandments and Torah at Mt. Sinai, a small, low, non-descript mountain. Stories...Read More
YITRO — Intelligence may be in our genes, but wisdom is certainly not. A person becomes wise when he or she realizes that everything in his or her life is an opportunity to learn something. Everything that happens to us and everyone we know (yes, everyone) can teach us something. In our portion we find Moses listening carefully to, and implementing, the suggestion of Jethro. Moses was the greatest of all prophets. He communicated directly with G-d and was given the Torah. Not only was Jethro not a prophet, he was Moses’s father-in-law! Yet Moses had the humility and...Read More
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