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A guide to summer vacation

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

We read the farewell speech of Moshe Rabbeinu during the month of August when millions of kids are at home on vacation. This week's Torah portion, parashat Ekev, includes golden rules to follow that are especially appropriate at this time:

"You should not bring an abomination into your home". Everything is available today, more than ever. The good and the bad. We do not need to bring garbage into our living rooms, into our digital devices, into our hearts. How difficult but essential it is to filter, to supervise, and to say no.

"For HaShem your God is bringing you into a good land… a land of wheat, barley, grape, fig, and pomegranate, a land of olive oil and date honey." For generations, Jews read this passage, looked out their windows, and saw Yemen or Russia. They could only imagine what the land of Israel was like. During summer vacation, we have the perfect opportunity to get to know this good land up close, by traveling through it.

"He does justice for the orphan and the widow and loves the convert, giving him bread and clothing." The parasha describes God in terms of His concern for the weak and the needy, together with a request that we walk in His ways. During the many hours of free time at our disposal during summer vaction, we can find numerous opportunities to do chesed and give tzedakah, to help and to volunteer, not only outside but within our homes as well.

"Carve for yourself two stone tablets like the first ones." The parasha describes moments of reconciliation: After the sin of the golden calf and breaking of the first Tablets of the Covenant, God gives Moses a second set of tablets. Our commentators learn from this story the importance of atonement and absolution, of forgiveness and of making peace. Our lives, in any case, are full of pressure and stress, and tensions can rise when the whole family spends hours together at home. But it doesn't matter how much we fought or how many times we got angry. It's always possible to ask forgiveness and to forgive, and to start over.

Have a great vacation.


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