D'var Torah Friday 20th April
This week’s Torah portion teaches us something about the impact our words can have on ourselves and others. In this week’s portion we learn about people getting ill and lots of Rabbis think this is because of lashon hara. What is lashon hara? Lashon hara means to speak badly about people. If lashon hara is speaking badly about people, what might lashon hatov mean? In Torah, God says יְהִי־א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר: “Let there be light”, and there was light! Through God’s words in Torah things are created, just like with us, our words can create amazing things, or harm or upset someone. What impact can our words have on people?
Whether we are talking people face to face, online, over the phone, or anything, how should we be speaking to people? What are some nice things we can say to people?
If we do say something that isn’t nice, what could we say to help and make things better?
This Shabbat your challenge is to really think about the words we are using, and try and be lashon hatov, using our words to help other people feel happy.
D'var Torah Friday 13th April 2018
This Shabbat is a special one as we are inbetween two festivals. This week year 6 had an afternoon learning about Yom Hashoah, the rememberance day of the Holocaust and next week we will all be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, it’s a big birthday for Israel this year, who can tell me how old Israel will be this year?
Israel is going to be 70! Which might seem a bit old, but for a country it is really quite young! Next week we will all be celebrating, but what are some things we already know about Israel?
For Jewish people why might is be a good thing that we have the State of Israel? There are lots of reasons, one being that we have a special country where we can move to if we wanted to. We are very lucky to have this.
It hasn’t always been easy though, Jewish people have been through quite a lot throughout our history, like the escaping from Moses which we read about during Pesach,
Jewish people have been on quite a journey throughout our time though haven’t we? Not everything we do is easy though. I’d like you all to take a moment and think about something you find difficult, what do you do to make things easier for you? Sometimes we have to struggle through something and it makes it even better when we achieve it, or reach our goal! What are some things we are all working towards? This Shabbat I’d like you all to challenge yourself to continue working to reach a goal, let us know if you manage to!
D'var Torah Friday 23rd March 2018
This week’s Torah portion is called Tzav. This word is from the same word Mitzvah. We have different ways of understanding the word Mitzvah, what are some definitions we know? A mitzvah is often something nice that we do for others, but in Torah it is also translated and something we have been commanded to do by God.
In this week’s portion God tells Moses to command Aaron and the other high priests on what they should be doing in the Temple. For the past couple of weeks you have all been learning about different Monarchs which is a little similar! Why is the role of the High Priests in the Temple similar to that of the Kings and Queens that you have been learning about?
What are some laws that you think are important? If you were King or Queen what laws would you add? Now maybe none of us will be able to be King or Queen at any point but we can always be making the world a better place. Pick something that you can do to make the world better and really work hard to make that happen. Why is it still important to be making small changes, what impact can these changes have? We may not be able to change the whole world but we can change parts of it.
D'var Torah 16th March 2018
This weeks Torah portion is the very beginning of the book of Vayikra. The book of Vayikra is all about giving gifts to God. What are some of the gifts that we give to people?
Sometimes gifts can be small things and sometimes they can be big things.
Sometimes, the smallest gift can make someone’s day so much better!
In the Torah, in some copies, you might notice that the last letter of the first word of this book, Vayikra, is a small aleph. Why might this be?
I think that one of the reasons for this is to remind us that sometimes the small actions or gifts are the ones that can mean the most.
What are some small gifts that we can give or do for each other?
We never know how much a smile can brighten up someone’s day. Smiling at someone could be the best thing about their day. What are some other small things we could do for people to make their days even better?
Try and do these things more, maybe you could set yourself a challenge to do at least one small thing to make someone’s day that bit easier or better, every day!
D'var Torah for Friday 9th March
This weeks Torah portion is a double portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei. Can someone remind us all why we have double portions? Some weeks we read two portions so that we can make sure we fit reading the whole Torah into a whole year!
Whilst the Israelites are wandering through the dessert a lot of the time is taken up with building the mishkan, what do we mean by this? The mishkan is almost like a portable Ark, something that can be carried with the Israelites while wandering through the dessert.
In Torah we are told lots of different materials that must be gathered. Different types of wood, gems, fabrics, materials and metals. Amongst all the different things that are required to build the mishkan is one type of animal skin called tachash. Translations for this word are different depending on where you look which tells us that the Rabbis were uncertain as to what this animal could be!
Some Rabbis understand the word to mean seal skins, others say it is a dolphin skin. Other Rabbis say that actually this is a huge animal with multi-coloured skin and possibly a horn, what do we think this animal could be? It hints towards a mystical creature, maybe a unicorn, which may have been created, purely to use for the mishkan!
This is a great example of very clever, learned Rabbis not being able to agree on something or know for sure.
Everyone interprets things differently and we each see the world differently. Some people choose to see what is in front of us, maybe a dolphin or a seal, and others choose to see what could be in front of us, like a unicorn. Every now and then, we need to see the magic and the mystery. The excitement of discovering something new.
Your challenge this Shabbat, is to take some time to do something new, with your friends, or with your family. Experience something new and exciting that you have never done before.
D'var Torah Friday 2nd February 2018
I know I probably say this most weeks, but this week is a very exciting Torah portion!
Over the past few weeks we have been reading about the Jewish people wandering through the desert. We have been through slavery, God sending the 10 Plagues, the parting of the Red Sea and years and years of wandering through the wilderness!
Can anyone tell me the big thing that happens during this time?
We receive the 10 Commandments from God! What are the 10 Commandments, can anyone tell me any of them?
The 10 Commandments provide us with rules and laws of how we should treat people, and our relationship with God. They could also be understood to be an agreement between us and God that we are promising to keep to.
Why do you think it might be good to have rules that we should follow? Do you think rules are always a good thing?
Try and think of an expectation or agreement that you find it hard to keep to. Your challenge this week, is to work really hard at trying to keep to that agreement. Let me know during the week next week how you are getting on!
D'var Torah Friday 19th January 2018
This weeks Torah portion is called “bo” meaning “come”. God told Moses to come to Pharoah to ask again for him to let the Jewish people go.
God did not say to Moses, “Go”. This might mean that he was sending Moses to Pharaoh by himself! Instead, he says “Come”, this implies that instead of Moses going by himself, actually, God is calling him to come with him. “Come with me, to speak to Pharaoh, I will be by your side.”
Moses has now been and spoken to Pharaoh a few time. How did he feel when he was first asked to go and speak to Pharaoh? Do you think it got easier for him each time he had to go and speak to Pharaoh?
We have our own challenges that we face every day too. What are some things that we might find challenging?
Just like Moses had God on his side, who are some people that support us in the things we do in our lives?
Moses achieved his mission. Pharaoh let the Jews leave Egypt, with Aarons help and knowing that God was on his side Moses overcame his struggles and challenges and persevered on his mission!
When you are struggling, remember those people who are on your side, who will help you overcome and achieve things.
D'var Torah Friday 12th January 2018
This weeks Torah portion is called Va’eira. God says this word when he is talking to Moses. It means: and I appeared. Do we remember how God appeared to Moses in last weeks Torah portion? God appeared to Moses through the Burning Bush. God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that he lets his people go! How do you think Moses felt? Imagine how you would feel if someone said to you, I have chosen you to deliver the whole of Clore Shalom to safety! Do you think you could do that? How might you feel?
Moses was nervous, he didn’t feel like he would be able to talk to Pharaoh. But Moses was very lucky to have a brother. Can anyone tell me what his brother was called? Moses and Aaron worked together, when Moses was nervous his brother helped him out. Has this ever happened to you, when you were struggling with something and a sibling or friend helped you? Can you think of a time when you have done this for someone else?
What advice would you give to Moses if he was your friend? Every day in school we see our pupils supporting and encouraging each other. As part of our community here we encourage Growth Mindset, what do you think Moses could do to build his confidence or be able to talk to Pharaoh?
Are there things that you could use your growth mindset for in school? I’d like you all to think of something to work on next week, and really try and improve your thinking, please let me know what you are working on and how it’s going next week as I love hearing how you are all doing!
D'var Torah Friday 5th January
This week we start a new book in Torah, Exodus. Or in Hebrew it is called Shemot. A lot happens in the beginning of this book. Pharaoh feels threatened by the Jews, Moses is born, he is raised by Pharaoh’s daughter and then leaves to Midian, he gets married and comes across the burning bush where God tells him he must go back to Pharaoh and demand “Let my people go!”.
It is a very exciting portion with lots happening in it and lots of really significant people.
First though, I want to start with a question. Who has power to make change? In the beginning of Shemot there are lots of people who make decisions that affect other people. Some of them are good, and some of them could be considered bad. But each of them makes change. First of all, when Pharaoh told two midwives to get rid of the baby boys, they refused. Next, when Moses is older he talks to God through the burning bush. Moses is given a big responsibility of going back to Egypt to save the Jews from slavery.
How do you think you might have felt if someone told you that you had to go to Pharaoh and tell him something that he really really wouldn’t want to hear? What would Moses need to help him with this challenge? How did Moses know that he would be able to do this?
Moses was chosen to help the Jewish people. He was brave and needed to be a good leader. The midwives disagreed with what the Pharaoh wanted them to do, they were brave and believed in themselves, knowing they were doing the right thing. We see Moses and the Midwives all making positive change in very different ways.
What could you do to make positive change in a small way or a big way?
Friday 15th September 2017 Weekly D'var Torah
This weeks portion is called Nitzavim Vayelech. It is another double portion, can anyone remember why we read two portions some weeks?
We need to make sure that we have read the whole Torah throughout the year, so some weeks we read two portions so that we can fit it all in!
The portion of Nitzavim Vayelech includes some of the fundamental principles of Judaism. Moses reminds the Jewish people of the unity with Israel, Torah and freedom of choice. Moses reminds us of the laws, blessings and curses throughout the Torah which provides us with laws and teachings of how we can live our lives. Ultimately though, we have the choice of how to follow these, and how we choose to behave.
What do you think freedom of choice means?
Moses teaches that we have been told what to do and we know in our heart what the right thing to do is. We make choices every day, every minute of every day. Right now, you are all choosing to listen and learn. At other times at home maybe, you choose if you want to watch TV or read a book for example. We make choices about whether to allow ourselves to be distracted by others in our class, or to talk when we shouldn’t be, or to pay attention and try hard to learn.
What are some other good choices you have made?
We know the world is made up of good and bad, we see it every day on a small scale, and nationally and globally. The Torah guides us as to which path to follow, but we must make the choice to do good and to be good. The older year groups have been talking about this in our JS lessons this week, how can we be the best person we can be, what choices and decisions can we make every moment of every day to be the best that we can be.
Your challenge this week is to choose the good, in the lead up to Rosh Hashanah and this time for reflection make the good decisions and be the best you can be.
Friday 8th September 2017
Weekly D'var Torah talked about at Kabbalat Shabbat
"We are now coming to the end of the Torah, with only a few weeks left! This means that Moses reminds us of all the laws, commandments and punishments from God. This portion is important as it reminds us how we should behave and treat each other.
Can someone tell me something that is a good way to behave or a good way to treat someone?
It’s also really helpful that Moses reminds us of these things, sometimes we need to be reminded don’t we? Especially after spending six weeks off school, and now we’ve got to get back in to the swing of things; remembering our Maths, Hebrew and all the other things we learnt last year, it’s helpful to maybe start the year with a bit of a refresher! For some of us we also need to get back in to the routine of being in school, listening to each other and not talking over people, respecting each other and being ready to learn. Just like in Torah where Moses reminds the Jewish people of the rules and expectations we have similar rules and expectations here in our Clore Shalom community too, who feels like they can remember some of the rules we have in our community?
It is while Moses reminds the Jewish people of these commandments that he also reminds them that they are God’s chosen people and that they in turn have chosen God. What do you think it means to be a chosen person? Why might you get chosen for something?
At the end of this weeks Torah portion Moses explains a list of good and bad consequences that will happen dependent on if people follow the laws or not. Is that a little bit like school? We all know the rules and if we follow them then good things happen, and if we don’t there are consequences, yes?
What consequences or rewards do we have in school, for good or bad things?
Moses ends by telling the Jewish people that after forty years they have got: “a heart to know, eye to see, and ears to hear”, what do you think we mean by ‘a heart to know’?
My challenge for you this week is to listen to your heart, when making decisions listen to your heart, to your gut, what is the right thing to do, think about people’s feelings and your feelings, use your heart to know.