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 his actions. The Israelites arrive at the promised land, and Moses only catches a glimpse of it before finding out that he will not be allowed to enter. A reason is because of something he did in a moment of frustration while traveling in the desert, many chapters back.

How do we act when we are confronted with our actions and asked to take responsibility for them, especially when we find ourselves surprised by the unintended consequences? It is easy to be defensive and full of excuses, explaining that we didn’t mean to hurt someone or to cause harm. However, regardless of our original intention, our challenge is to accept the fact that our actions brought about these consequences. There are times when apologies can begin to make things right, and there are times when, like Moses, we simply need to accept what results from our actions.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about facing up to the consequences of their actions.


  • When was a time you hurt someone and didn’t realize it?
  • How did you act when you found out?
  • Have you been hurt by someone who didn’t know?
  • Did you choose to tell the person, and if so, how?
  • How often do you think of the consequences before you do something?

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.