This past Sunday, we learned about the two people considered the first Jews: Abraham and Sarah, although when they start out, they are known as Abram and Sarai.
The discussion at one point did indeed turn to last week’s election results. And after listening to your daughters and sons, I feel there is hope for mankind after all, because your children are truly caring, interested, intelligent and thoughtful people! There is a lot of talk today about bulling not being acceptable, about tolerance of others and accepting people’s differences. And I think your kids all get what that is about. I find that matching those concepts to real life situations, however, can be very difficult for adults, much less kids.
Turns out that in the parsha (Torah section) that was read last week, there is an oath undertaken between Abram and God, in which God promises Abram that his descendants will inherit the land of Israel. And that oath was sealed by Abram sacrificing 3 heifers, 3 goats, 3 rams, one dove and one pigeon (but no partridge in a pear tree). Abram splits the animals in half, placing each half on either side of pathway. (The birds get placed in there somewhere, too, but they’re not split.) My initial reaction to this form of an oath was negative, and my first thought was, “No way am I going to tell the kids about this! It’s so weird and (seemingly) pointless!”
But then I realized, that is EXACTLY the type of thinking I hope we as a people can learn to stop! There was no need to think negatively about this oath (not that I’m thrilled about the animals meeting their demise, but given what other people were doing in the region at that time, I’m just glad it wasn’t children who were sacrificed!) Man’s perception of the world, and contract law, was vastly different 4,000 years ago! So I included this oath in my recounting of the parsha, and I then told the students about my reaction. And I reminded them that it can be very, very difficult to overcome our initial reactions to things that seem different from what we are used to. When someone dresses differently, or behaves in a way we’re not used to, our initial reaction is often to think “That’s weird!” Or “That’s wrong!” And it’s okay to have these feelings about other people at first; what is most important is doing our best to remember not to make people who seem different feel different, to remember that we can make the world a better place by growing the strength not to laugh at others, even if our friends our doing so; to practice being patient; and to remind ourselves to think about things just as they are – not necessarily as good or bad.
HOMEWORK: Please read to your child, or with your child, or have said child read the SHABBAT chapter in The Book of Jewish Holidays – it’s pages 59-70.
PAINTING WARNING: Our craft this coming Sunday will involve paint. And Shabbat. But it’s the painting part I figured you should know about in advance J.
Wishing you a peaceful week,