Endless choices face us each day, relatively casual choices like what to eat for dinner, and ones that are more profound, such as “should I tell the truth in this situation?” At times we have a strong feeling about the right choice in a given situation. But because of undue pressure from family or friends, we might make what we feel to be the wrong decision. This pressure is multiplied in the lives of children. Peer pressure is unduly strong in a child’s life and can lead to decisions that are not wise or morally sound.
In our Torah parsha this week much pressure is put on a non-Israelite prophet, Bilaam, to curse the Israelites. God gives explicit instructions to the prophet, telling him that he cannot curse the Israelites. However, Balaam seems tempted by the riches and honor that he will receive from the King of Moab, if only he would curse the Israelites. But Bilaam ultimately discovers that he doesn’t have the power to curse the Israelites. He only has the power to bless them, according to God’s will.
To stand up against the pressure of those moving us in the wrong direction, we must have strong internal resources. Making difficult choices might result in others not liking us or misunderstanding our actions. It is most difficult for a child to take such risks. A child worries tremendously about what would happen if he or she alienates friends. Parents need to stand as supports for children who need to make difficult decisions, encouraging them and showing that constant approval by their friends is not the most important value.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the difficulty at times of making the right decision.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
- What are some difficult decisions you’ve had to make? What happened as a result of those decisions?
- How do you know which decisions are right and which are wrong? Who or what can help you to know?
- Who is the person you can speak to that would help you make the right decision?
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.