A short, easy to grasp, Jewish concept or value that can be discussed around the dinner table.
Tonight at dinner, take a moment to talk about what you are grateful for this week. Regardless of how (or even whether or not) you celebrate Shabbat, make this your weekly Friday night ritual. Not only will this give you a chance to connect with your family, it will help your children learn the importance of being thankful for what they have. Shabbat Shalom!
Love Thy Neighbour
“Love thy neighbor” – is there any commandment more well-known than this? What does it mean? Simply put, not only should we want our friends to succeed but we should derive pleasure from that success. We shouldn’t feel jealous of or threatened by someone else’s achievements as we all have our own unique set of talents and abilities. If we work together we can all succeed! Shabbat Shalom.
Most heroes worthy of recognition are not found in the headlines. Judaism discovers heroism in everyday people–parents who endure fatigue to eke out a livelihood for their families; noble hearts who give of themselves to help those less fortunate; and individuals who stand their ground in matters of religious and ethical conviction. You are a hero to those around you! Ask your kids what they can do to be heroes every day. Shabbat Shalom.
TGIF! G-d, in His infinite wisdom, knew what we all know deep down. Sometimes you need to take a break from the chaos, to take a step back, in order to gain perspective and appreciate what you really have. This week, turn off the TV during dinner and make the effort to stop, look around, take a breath and reconnect. With great food, warm family ambiance, and meaningful reflection and conversation, Shabbat has the power to unite us, to relax us and to recharge our batteries. Shabbat Shalom!
Tonight at dinner, try infusing some Shabbat spirit into the evening (and even into the rest of Shabbat) by establishing your own “Shabbat Rules”. See if you can go with no lashon hara or gossip, no talk about money, no cell phone (gasp!) or iPad (gasp! gasp!). Try to set Shabbat apart from the rest of the week by inspiring some extra holiness. Shabbat Shalom!
If G-d created the world for us to use, does that mean that we can use it however we please? We cannot live on this earth without having a negative impact on the world and Tikun olam, the perfecting or the repairing of the world, has become a major theme in Judaism. There is no one else to repair it but us. This week, try making extra efforts to turn off the light when you leave the room; turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth; unplug appliances when they’re not in use. What else can you do? Shabbat Shalom!
From a very early age, we teach our children that “sharing is caring” and deeply rooted in this notion is the Jewish principle of tzedakah or charity. Shabbat presents a great opportunity to reinforce this value at home by making it a weekly habit to give to others. Mark the end of the week by talking about how you can share what you’ve earned with those less fortunate. Shabbat Shalom!
What is prayer and why do we pray? Prayer serves to help recognize that everything we are, everything we have and everything we use ultimately comes from G-d (Babylonian Talmud, Brakhot 35a). Prayer is an integral part of everyday Jewish life; it expresses our belief in G-D and unites us as a people. Tonight at dinner, work together to come up with a family prayer. Whether it be for thanksgiving, petition or forgiveness it will unite you around a common goal. Shabbat Shalom!
There is a beautiful custom of blessing our children every Friday night. We place a hand on their head and pray that our sons will grow up to exhibit the qualities of Ephraim and Menashe, biblical brothers who were not tempted by their immoral surroundings and were united in their efforts to maintain their Jewish values. And we pray for our daughters to emulate the righteous qualities of our matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah with insight, a giving nature, sensitivity and leadership. What values do you wish to impart on your children? Take a moment to bless your children tonight – either with the traditional blessing or one you have created – and enjoy a special moment of connection. Shabbat Shalom!
The concept of forgiveness is the major underlying theme of the High Holidays. While it’s not always easy to acknowledge and take responsibility for one’s transgressions, harder still for most is being able to forgive someone for theirs. Why is it important to forgive? Because holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your head. When we forgive we are no longer prisoners of our past. It takes courage, not weakness to forgive and, furthermore, if I can’t learn to forgive you, then how could I possibly ask another for forgiveness? Shabbat Shalom!