VA-YESHEV — Have you been pushed to go to an event that you did not want to attend, and then had a great time? Ever start out disliking a very demanding teacher who later in the year becomes appreciated for making you a much better student? In life many times “things might not be what they seem at first”. This week’s Torah portion, Va-yeshev, contains what might be one of the most famous examples of the idea that things which start off badly might come to a good end. Joseph, the favored youngest son of Jacob, is sold into...Read More
Category: new challenges
VA-YISHLAH — Many people hold back on religion in their lives because they are uncomfortable with the concept of God. Does God exist? How could bad things happen to good people? Why does evil exist? These are all questions that people have addressed throughout time. Many sophisticated discussions and answers are imbedded in Jewish texts for adults to encounter and wrestle with personally. In this week’s Torah portion, Va-Yishlah, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious angel representing God. Because Jacob successfully survives this encounter, his name is changed to Israel. The translation of Israel is “to struggle with God”. The Torah is saying that to struggle with...Read More
VA-YISHLACH — We all struggle. While adults often think of children as having charmed lives, they often struggle to control the raging and contradictory emotions within them. Children don’t yet have the tools that adults have to manage their passionate emotions, and so their wrestling can be particularly intense. At the same time, adults struggle to manage relationships, a household, finances and professions. Jacob, in this week’s Torah portion, struggles mightily. Alone in the middle of the night, separated from his family and possessions, he encounters a stranger. Commentators say it is a divine messenger. They wrestle until dawn....Read More
VA-YETZE — We all plan self-improvement projects. But one mistake we often make is that we think we can change ourselves all at once. The truth is changing one’s self doesn’t happen easily. It happens slowly and by increments. In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob leaves home and a difficult family situation, lays down to sleep, and has a spectacular dream. He dreams of angels going up and down a ladder. Given the slow evolution Jacob goes through on his journey, the dream can signify that Jacob can only progress in his journey step by step. As a model for us, Jacob...Read More
LECH LECHA — New beginnings are hard: a new school, a new job, the start of parenthood. Before one goes out on a journey, the journey is mysterious. We don’t know what to expect. It can be frightening to leave the familiar and go forward into the unknown. Abraham, in our Torah portion, is told to leave everything he knows —his family, his birthplace and his home —and go “to a place he does not know”. Abraham had the courage to just go. There are no reports of angst or handwringing. It is instructive for us to think about...Read More
Start with the Video
Free 2-Minute Discussion Starters
Rabbi Charles Savenor
Claar’s visionary project is not just an amazing resource for parents, but also for Jewish educators and schools.
Director of Congressional Education, Park Avenue Synagogue
Rabbi Steven Wernick
A wonderfully easy, deeply enriching, and modern tool for families of all ages to share in the timeless tradition of Torah.
CEO United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
What you are conveying is exactly what I am trying to achieve with my students. It is such a valuable resource.
Educator & Curriculum Writer