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Monday, May 31, 2010

Shelach Lecha

There is a section in this week's parasha which talks about tzitzit - fringes which some Jews wear every day as part of their clothing, and others wear as part of a tallit only when praying.  Still others don't wear them at all.
Some Jews wear items of clothing which identify them as Jewish to everyone who sees them.  These might include a kippah, tzitzit, or even a particular style and color of suit or hat.

Some Questions to Think About:

  • How do people know you if are Jewish?
  • Does it make a difference to you if people know you're Jewish?
  • How are you proud to be Jewish?

What do you think?
Be sure to share your answers by commenting on this blog

Monday, May 10, 2010


The 4th book of the Torah - B'Midbar - means "in the desert."  You probably know that according to the Torah the Jews spent 40 years in this desert after coming out of Egypt before they came into the land of Israel.  And God seems to think that the desert is a good place for them to learn some very important lessons about how they are supposed to behave.
Did you ever hear of a program called "Outward Bound?"  Look at the website by clicking on the link, and see if you can imagine why God chose the desert as a place for the Jews to learn.

Questions to think about:

  • Do you think you learn better in some places than in others?  Does it matter what you are learning?
  • Where do you learn the best?  Why?
  • The desert was really different from life in Egypt.  Did you ever move from one place to another that was very different?  What was it like?  What do you think it was like for the Jews?

Monday, May 3, 2010


This Shabbat we read together the last two parshiyot of the book of VaYikrah - Leviticus.  This book has been filled with laws - laws about sacrifices, about agriculture, about kashrut, about honorable behavior, and in general about what God will expect from the people of Israel as they go forward as free people to settle in the land of Israel.

The first of the two parshiyot - B'Har - describes the laws of shmitah and yovel - each one a time when Jews in the land of Israel are not to work the land.  Shmitah, which occurs each seventh year, is still observed today.  Every seven years Jews are to allow the land to rest - a shabbat for the land, just as every seven days we have a shabbat for people.  

Question to think about:
  • You may have heard about sabbatical leave in some professions - particularly teaching.  How do you think this is related to the law of shmitah - letting the land go unworked every seven years?
Another important issue in this parasha is the mitzvah not to charge interest when lending money (to another Jewish person).

Question to think about:
  • When the Torah was written, most people didn't have businesses.  Just about the only 'business' was farming or herding.  People didn't use money - they exchanged things they had for things they needed.  Why do you think there is a mitzvah not to charge your friends or neighbors or family-members interest if they needed to borrow from you?
The second parasha, B'Hukotai, tells us that we will be rewarded when we do things the way God wants us to, and punished if we don't.

Question to think about:
  • Which would you rather happen - be rewarded when you do something right or be punished when you do something wrong?  Which is similar to the ways laws usually work?  Which do you think works better? Can you create an experiment in your class to test your ideas?  Explain your thinking.
What do you think?
Be sure to share your answers by commenting on this blog