Monday, November 1, 2010


Last year's post for Toldot suggested several alternative ways to read and understand the parasha.  This year I would like to concentrate on an idea that connects the story of Jacob and Esau with current thinking about education.
James Kugel, in his book How to Read the Bible says the following:
Interpreters ... assumed that the Bible was a book of lessons directed to readers in their own day'
Traditional commentaries tell us clearly that Esau is 'bad', Jacob is 'good'.  And yet today we might look at both of these personalities less as "black and white" and more as "shades of grey".

Big Idea:  People - even 'identical' twins - are not exactly the same.  Identical educational practices are therefore inherently not fair to students.

Important questions you may want to think about.
  • How can we support learning in our diverse classes (and all classes are diverse - some more so than others, but in the end all)?
  • What are the factors that help us decide how to teach a particular concept?
  • What does it mean to focus on learning rather than on teaching?
  • What lesson is the Bible trying to teach us as readers today?
Sources you may find helpful
  • Please explain how the story of Jacob and Esau might affect the way your classroom functions.
  • Try to be an objective observer in your classroom.  How are you showing respect for different learners?  How do your lessons support alternative strengths your students have?
Be sure to check out Parsha 4 Kids for more ideas on connecting your students to Torah thinking

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