First, we explain about the Parshah (Portion of the Week): Every Shabbat morning, after the Shacharis service, we take the Torah out of the Ark and read the Parshah of that week.
We begin reading the Torah on Simchas Torah and read one (or two) Parshahs each week. This way, by Simchas Torah of the following year, we’ve finished reading the whole Torah!
The Torah Reading does not stop for a second! As soon we finish the last line of Devarim (Deuteronomy) on Simchas Torah, we immediately begin again by reading from the first line of Bereshis (Genesis).
Preparing to Teach the Parshah
Before we begin to teach our students Torah, we must get them excited about this special gift to the Jewish people. We must also demonstrate that Torah study is central to their lives and must be given great respect.
Children learn these values by our example:
Parshah should be taught in the morning so the students see it as an important subject in their lives.
Make sure to reserve at least one full hour to teach the Parshah so it does not turn into simple “story time.”
Parshah class must be a constant, not to be canceled or shortened to make time for special events such as rehearsing for a show or preparing for a Chanukah party.
Always start class with song to create excitement and enthusiasm. Here are some suggestions:
• מה אהבתי תורתך… • טוב לי, טוב לי תורת פיך… • אשרנו, מה טוב חלקנו… • תורת אמת נתן לנו, ברוך אשר בחר בנו…
This Week’s Mission
Each week, choose one important message from the Parshah to emphasize throughout the week. Create posters and activities on this theme in order to make it clear and meaningful to the students.
For example, when teaching the story of Rachel sharing the signs with her sister Leah, we can elaborate on acts of sharing and thoughtfulness and discuss ways to incorporate kindness in the children’s daily lives.
Parents Contact Page
You can encourage your children at home to strengthen what they’ve learned. Reinforce their progress by printing out cards from the website. Write nice comments and funny notes and give out these cards for the children to collect. These will add up to points for winning prizes.
This Week’s Parshah
This week we begin to read about Joseph and his brothers.Joseph slanders his brothers to his father and this begins the terrible conflict which leads to the sale of Joseph and his descent into Egypt.This is an opportunity to talk about Lashon Hara, speaking badly of another. How much grief, hurt, and bad feeling does this cause! If we hold back a little and do not comment, do not respond, even if we are right, even if it is true, we can prevent a lot of trouble.The way we speaking is a habit. If we train children from an early age not to talk about others in a negative way, they will avoid hurting other people’s feelings and lead happier and more peaceful lives.This week, we will encourage positive talk, discuss seeing others favorably – לדון לכף זכות, and be particularly careful in our speech.
In the parsha we read how Yosef introduced his father to Pharaoh.
וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת-יַעֲקֹב אָבִיו, וַיַּעֲמִדֵהוּ לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה; וַיְבָרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב, אֶת-פַּרְעֹה.
And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה, אֶל-יַעֲקֹב :כַּמָּה, יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיֶּיךָ ?
And Pharaoh said unto Jacob: ‘How many are the days of the years of your life?’
וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב, אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, יְמֵי שְׁנֵי מְגוּרַי, שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה. מְעַט וְרָעִים, הָיוּ יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיַּי, וְלֹא הִשִּׂיגוּ אֶת-יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי אֲבֹתַי, בִּימֵי מְגוּרֵיהֶם.
And Jacob said unto Pharaoh: ‘The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and hard have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.’
The meeting seems puzzling: Is this proper etiquette?! Jacob blesses the king – while the king asks him his age! What brought the king to ask such a question?! Jacob’s answer is also puzzling – he tells the king that he had a difficult life, and that his ancestors lived a long life, and that he has not reached their age yet. What is the meaning of this strange conversation?!
Egypt is a desert country, and its lands are irrigated from the Nile. The Sages tell us that when Jacob came to Egypt, the water of the Nile came towards him, and the land was watered. Pharaoh was happy to see Joseph’s father, who had brought such a blessing during the famine. So he asked him how old he was – in order to know for how many more years his country will be blessed in the merit of Jacob…
Jacob understood Pharaoh’s unexpressed intention, and explained: I am not as old as I look! I have had a hard life, and you have nothing to worry about – my ancestors lived a long life, so you can expect many more blessed years…
At the beginning of the parasha, Yosef is told to come to his father:
“ויאמר ליוסף: הנה אביך חולה” (בראשית מח א)
O “ne said to Joseph: ‘Behold, your father is sick.’ And he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim”.
Why did he have to be told to come, wasn’t he in touch with his father?!
Joseph did not come to visit his father alone. Chazal praised Yosef for the way he honored his father – how, despite being the leader of Egypt, he himself harnessed his own chariot to go towards his father, etc. Why did he not visit him often?
Joseph feared that if he would be alone with his father, Jacob would ask him: How did it happen that he ended up in Egypt? What happened when he was sent to find his brother? Joseph did not want to tell him the truth and upset him. After years of separation, and finally his father lived next to him, he restrained himself and did not visit him alone.
This week we will learn from Joseph and try our best to honor parents!
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