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Guidelines for summer vacation‏

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

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

"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. This year, especially when it's impossible to go abroad, we have an excellent opportunity to get to know this good Land.

"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 together with His demand that we walk in His ways. In our present economic and social situation, there are numerous opportunities for donating food and clothing, for giving tzedakah and, as volunteers, for doing chesed.

"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 peacemaking. We are living in a tense and stressful time, packed together in our homes like sardines and easily triggered. But it doesn't matter how much we fought or how many times we lost our cool. It's always possible to ask forgiveness and to forgive, and to begin anew.


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