VA-YIKRA — We all live with rituals. Whether it’s the time and place we brush our teeth in the morning or singing our children goodnight songs, rituals provide the infrastructure by which we live our lives. Without rituals, without certain daily repetitions of consistent behavior, our lives would be unbearably chaotic. This week we begin the book of Leviticus. This portion and in fact much of the book of Leviticus is full of details about ritual, especially those related to how and when to bring sacrifices for worship. While prayer long ago replaced sacrifice in Jewish tradition, sacrifices were the expression of...Read More
VA-YAK HEL — Giving charity is for everyone. Tzedakah, the Hebrew word for charity, actually correctly translates as justice. Whether one has a lot or a little, giving is an integral part of a Jewish life. Even the poor are required to give a little charity. Money, food, our time, out-grown clothes, older toys, all can be useful to others in need. A community is only as strong as the willingness of its members to help each other. This week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, stresses that every member of the community must participate in contributing to the building of the...Read More
TERUMAH — The old adage says there’s no place like home. And it’s true, that there’s no place like home to come to at an end of a tiring work day, a business trip, or a vacation. When children have had strange and sometimes frightening experiences or an exhausting day, it’s so comforting to come home to mom and dad and snuggle up in one’s very own bed. This week’s parsha is about building a sanctuary, a home for God. A sanctuary is a holy place where God will meet with human beings. God’s home is a beautiful place, made with precious...Read More
BO — There are certain stories we tell our children again and again — stories of our own growing up and how we came to be who we are and do what we do. Stories that our parents taught us, stories that often include immigration and making it in America, as well as how life used to be in the “olden” days, feed our children’s imagination, giving them a sense of who they are in the world as well as resources with which to face their own daily struggles. Those stories are telling (so to speak!) what we want...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
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