HA-AZINU — We all want our children to listen. There are several kinds of listening that we expect from our children: obedience to what we tell them to do, paying attention generally to what we say, and taking in our criticism. But often children choose not to or can’t listen to what we tell them. All of these different kinds of listening can be difficult for children, whether they simply want to do what they want to do, or because their attention is elsewhere, or finally because it’s hard to hear criticism. Our Torah portion begins with the injunction...Read More
HA-AZINU — Every so often we get caught, or catch ourselves, doing something wrong. Very often we come up with creative justifications for what we did. The person I snapped at was rude to me first. Or I stole a video because the store makes too much money anyway. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses reminds us that when we do things that are wrong, we must focus on the imperfection in ourselves and not use twisted logic to find another source of blame. Actually, modern psychological studies show that all people think they are basically good, regardless of...Read More
KI TAYTZAY — “You can run, but you can’t hide”. We all have our demons, the parts of ourselves that we wish were better or wish didn’t exist within us. The best way to deal with them is to acknowledge their reality, confront them, and challenge them. Only then do we stand a chance of working them out of our system. This week’s Torah portion, Ki Taytzay, contains a wonderful mitzvah. We are instructed to return lost objects that we may find lying in the street. Though I may be appreciative of this when I am the owner who...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
MATOT/MASEI — Picture this: Mom comes home and finds broken glass in the kitchen, sticky juice and muddy footprints all over the floor, and no one in sight. Three kids and the dog are watching TV in the den. When mom comes in, everyone shouts “It wasn’t me!” and points their finger across the room. Sound familiar? It’s always easier to blame a younger sibling or the dog. It’s less scary to point your finger at someone else than to point it at yourself. Even Moses falls into this trap in this week’s Torah reading. Moses accuses Israel’s enemies...Read More
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