BERESHIT — Family tensions are easily created between siblings. Feeling overshadowed because of the accomplishments of our brother or sister, or feeling overlooked by parents, are frequent causes. How can we avoid these common family dilemmas? This week’s Torah portion, Bereshit, includes the story of Cain and Abel and man’s first violent act: a lashing out of brother against brother based on family tension, jealousy and perceived favoritism. When Cain is asked, after he killed Abel, where his brother is, he answers, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Torah is clearly teaching that the answer is definitely YES to Cain’s question. What can we do in our families to...Read More
KI TAVO — Many of us in this country have an overabundance of goodness in our lives. But sometimes in our society, with its saturation of goods and services, it is difficult to be aware of this abundance. If we have enough to eat, a place to sleep, and clothes to wear, we already have more than many people in the world. Becoming aware of how much we have, we naturally begin to think about what it means to give back to this world from which we’ve so plentifully received. In this Torah portion we are required to take...Read More
KI TAYTZAY — Kindness to others in children can begin with kindness to animals. Even though children can be fairly self-centered, exposure to animals can bring out the nurturing side of a child. At times, however, children can also be cruel to insects or animals. These times provide an important opportunity for a lesson in the feelings of creatures other than human beings and can lead to greater kindness for other people as well. Our current Torah portion forbids us from plowing with an ox and an ass together. Besides a concern for not mixing species together, plowing with an ox and an ass can...Read More
PASSOVER — Asking questions is essential to childhood. Doing one’s best to answer these questions is part of being a parent. Sometimes we are delighted by these questions, and at other times we are discomfited, at a loss as to how to answer them. Whichever it is, we know how important it is for our children to keep on asking questions. This coming week is time for the yearly Passover seders. The Torah and the rabbis who shaped the seders placed children’s questions at the heart of the seder. Not only are the “Four Questions” designed to specifically engage...Read More
RE-EH — Caring about others and giving to the needy are important lessons for children to learn. Children, however, tend to be caught up in their own worlds, with their own needs for toys and games and other material wants. Their immediate wants and needs and keeping up with their friends makes it difficult to impart a lesson to children regarding giving to others. The Torah is sensitive to the needs of those who have less than others and issues a mandate to help these persons. In this week’s Torah portion it says that we should not harden our...Read More
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