CHUKAT — “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Every child knows this popular aphorism, but the sad truth is that words do matter and they can hurt. When we feel stressed, angry and frustrated, many of us speak without thinking first. Words can become daggers that wound others as well as ourselves. In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, Moses is asked to provide water for the Israelites. Just before the water flows from a rock, Moses, apparently worn out by the demands of leadership, loses his temper. Moses calls his people, “You rebels”,...Read More
BAMIDBAR — There are so many ways that we can make sure that we get the most out of our actions. Our lives are busy and, in our rush to get things done, we risk expending lots of unnecessary energy. When there is little time, what can we do to make sure that we are still creating meaningful moments and maximizing our potential? One way to do that is to create order and build rituals into our everyday lives. In this week’s Torah portion, Bamidbar, the Israelites do just that. When traveling in the desert they need to set...Read More
BECHUKOTAI — We have all sorts of rules in our lives. Some rules are serious, make sense, are easy to follow, and others are more difficult to obey. They vary greatly from “don’t run into traffic” to “don’t copy a friend’s homework”. Some are more universal rules like “do not steal” and some are household rules like “trash gets taken out on Thursday night”. Some are very clear in how to obey them, such as “do not murder”, and some are more open to interpretation, such as “be kind to others”. No matter what the rules may be we...Read More
BECHUKOTAI — Most Americans have warm homes and enough to eat. Their children have many toys to play with. And yet, there are many people here in America and around the world who don’t have enough. Some of those people we pass on the street each day. Others are living in the margins in substandard housing or shelters. Children notice the discrepancies between those who have enough and those who don’t and try to make sense of it. Early on in their lives children can learn what it means to try to help those who don’t have enough. In this week’s...Read More
EMOR — We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves how important it is to be kind to one another. We speak about seeing each person’s humanity and treating others the way that we would want to be treated. But what happens when that “other” is not a person but an animal? We must remember that respect for the living creatures in this world is also an important value. This week’s Torah portion includes laws about properly treating animals. The very fact that these laws exist says a lot about Judaism’s appreciation of the role of animals in our...Read More
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