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
Category: new challenges
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
NOAH — Most families have to deal with difficult change at some point or another – whether it’s unemployment or illness or loss. When a family navigates these changes, they also have to help their children through the radical changes in their lives. Noah, the hero of this week’s biblical portion, experienced radical change. He and his family were the sole survivors of a flood that destroyed everything.They were forced to begin their lives all over again. But Noah, after all, wasn’t perfect. After the flood, one of the first things Noah did was to get drunk. By portraying Noah in this way,...Read More
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