Dear reader,

My youngest daughter told me that she really likes one of her teachers because she makes her lessons “so interesting.” At every opportunity, this teacher brings tangible objects into the classroom. She regularly conducts experiments to visually illustrate concepts, just as she uses practical metaphors to make abstract ideas more concrete.

Every teacher knows that if you want an idea to really come alive for your students, you need to involve them—and as many of their senses—as possible.

And that’s one of the things that I love so much about Judaism. It’s a veritable living classroom. At every step of our day, week or month, there are scenarios that make us stop and consider something about our lives.

Take food. Every holiday has its own symbolic foods that aren’t just supposed to enhance our gastronomic experience (or our waistline), but to actually make us think about the experience. So, just as we begin a fresh new year, we dip an apple or challah into honey, so that we will think about sweetness and consider how to bring more of it into our lives and the lives of others.

But it goes further than food. To impress us with the concept of unity on Sukkot, we tangibly hold and make a blessing on four different kinds. To remember the power of a lone voice of light, we physically kindle a Chanukah menorah in the darkest of months to light up our environment.

And it’s not just about holidays.

This past summer we went on a few road trips. At the start, one member of the family read aloud tefillat haderech, the prayer said for traveling, and we all repeated. The prayer beseeches G‑d for our safety, reminding us of a time when traveling was laced with danger, like the possibility of being attacked by robbers or wild animals. While driving nowadays in a car may not present such dangers, the prayer reminds us that as we travel beyond our comfort zones we need extra protection and guidance from Above.

On one of our road trips my daughter noticed a rainbow in the sky, providing us the opportunity to say its blessing. The rainbow was G‑d’s promise to Noach not to destroy our world. In fact, our sages teach that when a rainbow appears, it is a reminder that that we deserve to be flooded again. On the other hand, a bright rainbow also portends the imminent revelation of the light of Moshiach. The lesson of the rainbow’s blessing for us was about how each of us can bring more beautiful color into our world.

And so, over and over, Judaism takes an apple or a citron, a candle or a rainbow, and gives us a tangible opportunity to pause and consider a message that we should incorporate into our lives.

Wishing you a great week, full of real life lessons.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S. As the terrorist attacks continue, our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in Israel. Join us in doing extra mitzvot as a merit for their safety and as we pray for the recovery of all those who have been wounded.