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
DEVARIM — We often jump to conclusions. A child walks into a new class and quickly decides who is ‘cool’ and who is not. We may witness an interaction between spouses or a parent and child and immediately decide that someone is being abusive or disrespectful, even though we lack any knowledge of the context. Sometimes our judgment calls are on target and sometimes they aren’t. In Devarim, this week’s Torah portion, Moses recounts the instructions he gave to the first group of judges he appointed. These instructions are repeated to remind us of their importance and timelessness. Moses...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
BALAK — It is hard to resist temptation. In order to do so, one must have a strong sense of right and wrong and be able to assess the situation rationally. Temptation exists everywhere in our world in varying degrees. Sometimes it comes in the question of an extra piece of dessert. Sometimes it is a less than honest way to get a better grade, and sometimes it takes even a more serious form. But there is always a price when we give in to temptation, and that price is transgressing one of our own values or ethics. In...Read More
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
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