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 hearts or shut our hands in response to the needy. Charity, tzedakah, is not just a matter of feeling philanthropic, but an act of justice in our world.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in our society that children can participate in — whether it’s building homes for the homeless, volunteering in a shelter, working in a soup kitchen, or taking part in a bake sale for earthquake relief. They can also accompany their parents when they give blood. The more you give, whether it’s through volunteer activities or through giving money, the more your children will witness the model of giving.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN about Tzedakah, the Jewish obligation to give to the needy.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
- Do you see poor people around you? How do you think we can help them?
- What of your things might you share with those children who don’t have toys or games?
- Have you ever volunteered to help the poor? What was that like for you?
By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.