SHOFTIM — Dr. Seuss introduced us to the children’s book The Lorax, his 1971 children’s book that was recently remade into feature-length film. The Lorax tells the story of how the environment is destroyed by human activity and ambition. We hear the unforgettable voice of the gruff but wise Lorax, who says to the greedy Onceler. “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues!” Like the Lorax, we too learn to speak for the trees in this week’s Torah reading. Portion Shoftim includes the mitzvah to protect fruit trees from destruction. Trees should not be chopped down for the benefit of humans. This mitzvah...Read More
VA-ETCHANAN — Do we exercise enough? Getting enough rest, staying clean, not smoking, and using alcohol in moderation are all important ways to respecting our bodies. Unfortunately, some people take better care of their fine jewelry, putting it away in velvet, than they do in caring for themselves. Our bodies do wonderful things for us. They enjoy our indulgences and provide us with pleasure, but they are also the tools we use to realize our dreams and aspirations. Without the energy to articulate or implement our ideas and creativity, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. This week’s Torah portion, Va-Etchanan,...Read More
MATOT — Parenting is tricky. We may attempt to balance our individual desires with our instinctive urge to direct our children. The result can sometimes be a confused melding of the two: setting up our children to live their lives the way we want to live ours. We may push them to get into a school we admire or play a sport we like, even if it’s not necessarily the right thing for them. Our children are unique individuals with their own sets of needs and desires. Torah portion Matot relates the quandary presented by two and a half...Read More
MASEI — Parents enjoy remembering the different stages of a child’s life. Taking pictures and putting together photo albums is a favorite activity of a parent with young children. Remembering, however, is more than just the fun of looking at enjoyable times and the cute faces of our children. Memories tell us where we come from, what we stand for, and how far we have come; they tell us which values are abiding over time. In this week’s Torah portion Moses keeps a written record of the progress of the Israelites wandering through the desert. Each stage of their...Read More
CHANUKAH — It’s that time again. Cold weather brings thoughts of the Christmas holiday. There are Christmas vacations, sales, parties, street lights and more. Children get very excited by images of Santa Claus and colorful Christmas trees with brightly wrapped gifts underneath. It’s hard for Chanukah to compete with all this. Showing children that there is something from their own tradition that can bring them light and joy is an important message. While Chanukah, within the scope of Jewish tradition, is a relatively minor holiday, it carries with it some important messages, as well as lots of fun for children. Just as Christmas and many other festivals worldwide do, Chanukah...Read More
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