TORAH PORTION: SHEMOT Sometimes we see things, whether at work or at school, and we know they are wrong. But the question for us is to decide when to intervene. We all make decisions regarding when it’s “just not our business” and when it would be wrong not to say something. But knowing which is which is difficult. If we see someone helpless being demeaned, it’s important to step in and help out. Whether acting discreetly or out in the open is a decision we will have to make in each situation. In our Torah parsha this week, Moses...Read More
VA-YIGASH — Mistakes happen, and as self-respecting folks, we don’t like when we ‘mess up’. It is very tempting, and often convincing, to present and/or perceive the facts a bit differently. We can deny ever having said something compromising or running a stop sign, and maybe convince ourselves that we didn’t do anything wrong. The problem is that we can be a little too short-sighted sometimes. Joseph is sold by his brothers because they decided they wanted to get rid of him. After selling Joseph, his brothers engage in an elaborate deception designed to give their father the impression that Joseph had been torn apart by wild animals. Much to their...Read More
VA-YIGASH — Children often embarrass each other in front of friends, causing great pain and shame. We, as parents, want to make them aware of how hurtful such behavior is. In Jewish thought embarrassing someone in public is considered a serious crime, akin to killing someone. Judaism is sensitive to how painful an experience humiliation can be. In fact, Joseph provides a good model for us in our biblical portion. Having been estranged and separated from his brothers for years, he vindicates his own painful experience at their hands by becoming a powerful Egyptian ruler. It has been many...Read More
VA-YESHEV — Words have power. Just as our words can lift someone’s spirit, so too can they can cause damage. Words can sometimes be smokescreens for what is truly taking place, defense mechanisms to shield us from shame and pain. Seeking approval and love, children frequently want to please their parents. However, when accidents, mistakes, and errors in judgment arise, children will go to great lengths, including lying, to shield themselves from punishment and embarrassment in the eyes of those they love most. What most kids don’t realize is that words of truth and transparency are building blocks of loving, secure relationships. The story of Joseph and his brothers can be seen as...Read More
VA-YETZE — We all have something to give. By giving, we show that we are responsible for those less fortunate in our communities and, more broadly, in the world. We can give financially, starting as small as a child setting aside a small part of his or her allowance. Or we can give by volunteering our time. Especially when we feel things are missing in our own lives, helping others can help us realize how we are blessed in different ways. In this week’s Torah portion, Va-Yetze, Jacob promises to give a tenth of everything he receives. At this point,...Read More
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