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Home > Religion > Torah Portion > Torah Talk for educators and parents

Torah Talk for educators and parents

Rosh Hashanah
"Don't Sacrifice Your Loved Ones"
Rosh Hashanah, September 23-24, 2000 - 1-2 Elul 5761

Want to feel closer to God?
Feel more connected to Judaism?
It's your choice.
Do as Moses commanded,
"Walk in God's ways." presents a Torah portion write-up for parents and teachers from the author of "The Really Fun Family Haggadah."

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The Torah reading on the second day of Rosh Hashanah is one of the most famous of all - the Akedah. In this Torah portion, taken from Genesis Chapter 22 (in Vayera), God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, a child for whom he and his wife Sarah had prayed for many years. Yet Abraham doesn't argue with God. In an act of pure devotion to God, he does as he is told until an "angel of God" tells him to stop. Isaac is saved, Abraham instead offers a ram as a burnt offering, and Abraham's faithfulness is rewarded by God, "I will bestow my blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven…" Since Abraham seemed willing to sacrifice his precious son, this Torah portion is often discussed as a test of one's faith in God.

As we head into the High Holidays, a time when God judges our lives and we look inside ourselves for ways to improve in the year ahead, maybe we can also see that the Akedah teaches us that no matter what the potential reward, we should never sacrifice our loved ones. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows they would do anything for one last conversation, one last touch.

Today's life is fast-paced. Moms and dads work long hours and children rush from school to scheduled activities to homework. Time is tight, pressures are high; there's little time to waste. It's easy to get lost in the hurried life. Life in America, even for kids, has truly become a rat race.

But as God showed us with Abraham and Isaac, devotion should never come at the sacrifice of our loved ones. God tested Abraham, just as we are tested in our everyday lives. And just as

God stopped Abraham in his sacrifice of Isaac, we shouldn't sacrifice our loved ones either. We should take time out from our hurried lives, plenty of time, and be with family and friends.

Work hard, yes. Do our best, always. But never at the sacrifice of our loving relationships. As we look ahead to Rosh Hashanah, may God give us the strength to work hard and achieve our dreams. May God also give us the wisdom to balance our lives with healthy, loving relationships, for those always bring the greatest rewards. Shabbat Shalom.

Try these discussion starters at the Shabbat table or at school:
Has your life become too busy? Is it beginning to impact your relationships with loved ones?
Is it worth giving up an activity to rebuild a strained relationship? Which has greater rewards?

Larry Stein is the author of The Really Fun Family Haggadah, which can be ordered at Email Larry at

Copyright ©, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission.

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