Category: Jewish Values
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While traditional Jewish prayers are vivid and poetic, with every word carefully written long ago, not all prayers need to be so! Prayer can begin in an informal way as a personal, private expression of gratitude. Gratitude and humility diminish entitlement and invite us to feel deep appreciation for all of the gifts in our lives.
Being a peacemaker among our peers can deepen our ability to see two sides of a story and offer perspective in problem solving. This advice isn’t just for adult relationships. For kids, this opportunity can play out daily during recess, in the cafeteria, on Instagram, or over text.
Raising a mensch means teaching our kids what Judaism says about being a good person. Jewish wisdom teaches: praising a child’s ethics, morals, and ideals is more important than praising their academic marks. If our children’s honesty, inclusiveness, and kindness garners the same praise as an A on their report card, our children will develop healthy self-esteem that isn’t tied to their intellect or academic achievements.
Jews do not practice random acts of kindness! Rather, regardless of our mood, we are obligated to always act with righteousness and kindness. With this in mind, it’s our job to teach our children to always search for opportunities to act with kindness, no matter how our own day might be going – and we need to model that, too. Carry band-aids, aspirin, chewing gum, subway tokens, loose change, candy, or any other things that people “need” on a regular basis – so that YOU can be the one to provide it.
The Hebrew word for sin is chet, which comes from an old archery term that was used when an archer missed their intended target or mark. This ancient definition helps inform the Jewish view of sin, as our sages teach us: all people are essentially good, and sin is a product of our errors. We are each imperfect, and often “miss the mark.” Pick up the bow and try again.
Did you know that there are Jewish laws about avoiding gossip? They are called lashon hara, literally evil tongue or evil speech. The gift of speech allows us to communicate. What we say can create waves of positivity, or trigger tsunamis of destruction. The world is both made and potentially destroyed with words – and we all know that if the pen is mightier than the sword, the tongue is even mightier.
Jewsh wisdom tells us that giving between 10 and 20% of your net income is an actual obligation, not a charitable or emotional response. There is an imbalance in the world – and it is the Jewish people’s responsibility to correct this imbalance with justice and righteousness.
Environmentalism is not a new political agenda: rather, it is a deeply Jewish concept! The Torah shows us that we have an obligation to tend, repair, and protect the world. Not only do the Jewish people have the opportunity to rest, but our land does too.
Our sages teach us that love occurs in concentric circles, radiating outward from our love for ourselves. How we consider our own worth and dignity will inform our relationships with each of our concentric circles – from our families to the countless creatures worthy of respect across our world.
Valuing peace over being right is a gift we give ourselves. So, it’s time to learn to apologize – even when we aren’t in the wrong! Practice saying “oops, I blew it” or “wow, I sure got that wrong” to prepare ourselves for the moments we’ll really need to say them. Otherwise, we may win the battle – but lose the war.