VA-ERA — Most of us resist accepting responsibility at one time or another. Depending on what they are, responsibilities can be challenging and feel burdensome. Children especially have a difficult time learning that they can’t play all the time. Sometimes they are inundated by activities, chores and school work and can feel very burdened. It’s important to help our children find the right balance between work and play, between structured time and unstructured time. Perhaps we can learn something about accepting responsibility from this week’s Biblical portion. Moses, at the burning bush, does not want to accept the responsibility of freeing his people...Read More
VA-ERA — Try telling a teacher, parent, or friend that you just HAD to do something they deem inappropriate. Nine times out of ten, the response will be “That’s ridiculous! Nobody can force you to do something!” We have a deep belief in, and awareness of, our freedom to choose when making decisions. In Va’era, this week’s Torah portion, God informs Moses that He will harden Pharoah’s heart and Pharoah will refuse to release the Jews from captivity. Pharoah’s heart is ‘artificially’ hardened, but the rest of us are in fact free to choose between right and wrong. The contrast is deliberate. Throughout life, one encounters decisions. As we grow, the...Read More
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 — 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-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
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