NITZAVIM — It’s not too hard, we tell our children, when they want to do something new. It just takes some effort and practice and sometimes courage to do it. It can be difficult, though, to tolerate seeing our children struggle. If we protect our children from struggle and from learning new skills that they are not immediately good at, they won’t understand that taking on new projects requires patience, effort and perseverance. In our Torah portion this week it says, “It is not in the heavens”; in other words, what the Torah instructs is not beyond us to...Read More
NITZAVIM — Is smoking good for you? Most sane people will tell you that it’s not, including people who themselves are smokers! Isn’t it strange that we sometimes consciously make choices that are bad for us? In this week’s Torah portion, we are instructed by Moses to choose life. Why do we need to be instructed to do the obvious? The Torah recognizes that, although we may very well know what is good for us and what is not, we still need to be reminded to make the right choices. Overeating, drugs, and smoking are all harmful activities. Yet...Read More
VA-ETCHANAN — Raising children is not only about teaching our children how to be successful in the future, going to the right schools and finding the right job. It’s also about teaching them ethics that will carry them through their lives. The ethics we teach to our children are meant to last a lifetime and, in fact, to outlive us. Moses is told in this Torah portion that he will not be able to enter the Promised Land. But he is to teach the people of Israel a body of ethics to serve them in their building of a...Read More
VA-ETCHANAN — We often do not think of the potential consequences before we take action. Hopefully, we stop to think about the impact on our surroundings when we are making big decisions that require a lot of thought. But in the moment when we react quickly or when a decision doesn’t seem as though it has far-reaching implications, it is unlikely that we are running through all possible scenarios in our minds. So what happens when we are later faced with the consequences of those actions? In this week’s Torah portion, we see Moses dealing with the consequences of...Read More
PINCHAS — Standing up for oneself is a difficult feat. It might mean defending oneself before the attacks of others, or it might mean asking for what we need at the right time. Whether it is a raise in salary or a change in job title or something more personal, such as confronting a friend over a perceived hurt, it is putting oneself on the line. Faced with the prospect of standing up for ourselves, we may doubt that we deserve what we are requesting, or we may wonder if we will be penalized just for asking. In our...Read More
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