Meaningful discussions on the parasha are an excellent tool for challenging children to clarify their thoughts on a particular topic. When introducing a meaningful discussion based on Parashat Ha-Shavua, we create an opportunity to bring the weekly Torah portion into our everyday lives, spark curiosity, encourage critical thinking, and teach respectful discourse. 

Below, please find discussion topics for both younger and older children that may be utilized in the physical or virtual classroom, in a family or informal group setting, and more. For tips on how to host meaningful parasha discussions for younger children, click HERE.



For tips on how to host meaningful parasha discussions for younger children, click HERE.

Parashat Bereshit - פרשת בראשית


What is a good apology? Has someone ever apologized to you and you felt it wasn’t sincere? In Parshat Bereshit, Kayyin kills his brother, Hevel. Afterward, God punishes him (for FB: but does he really apologize?) and tells him that the land will be cursed and will not provide food easily and that he is banished to be a wanderer for all time. Kayyin then replied,

(Bereshit 4:13-14):

גָּד֥וֹל עֲוֺנִ֖י מִנְּשֹֽׂא׃

“Is my sin too great?” 

הֵן֩ גֵּרַ֨שְׁתָּ אֹתִ֜י הַיּ֗וֹם מֵעַל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה וּמִפָּנֶ֖יךָ אֶסָּתֵ֑ר וְהָיִ֜יתִי נָ֤ע וָנָד֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ

“I have been banished from you and from the land.” 

Do you think he apologizes? What do you think makes a good and valid apology?



Can you resist temptation? In Parashat Bereshit, we read about how the snake tempts Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. He asks her (Bereshit 3:1),

אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹ֣א תֹֽאכְל֔וּ מִכֹּ֖ל עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃

“Did God really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” 

He tempts her with his words, and she is also tempted because the fruit looks good and she takes some to eat and gives some to Adam. Has someone ever tried to tempt you to do something that you knew was wrong? What kind of strategies did they use to try to convince you? When is it hard to avoid temptation? When is it easy?

Parashat Noah - פרשת נח


“The devil made me do it!”After the Flood, God explains that He promises not to destroy the world again, because,

(Bereshit 8:21) 

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל לִבּוֹ לֹא אֹסִף לְקַלֵּל עוֹד אֶת הָאֲדָמָה בַּעֲבוּר הָאָדָם כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו וְלֹא אֹסִף עוֹד לְהַכּוֹת אֶת כָּל חַי כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי

A person’s heart is evil from his youth (or, from the time he is born, according to Rashi).

In other words, God has given man an evil inclination and a good inclination. Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t have this desire to do bad”? Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t feel a strong temptation to do bad things? Is saying, “I couldn’t help it” a good defense?



Should you defend someone who did the wrong thing? In Parashat Noah, God tells Noah that He is about to destroy the world and tells him how to build an ark to save himself, his family, and some of the animals. (For FB: Should Noah have fought harder to save others beyond his own family, even if they were not good people?) Chazal (the rabbis) criticize Noah for not trying to ask God  for mercy for the people (as Abraham does for Sodom when God tells him about their destruction and Moses does for the Jewish people)

Do you think it’s important to defend someone, or ask for mercy when they have done something wrong? If they “did the crime” shouldn’t they “pay the time”?

Parashat Lekh Lekha - פרשת לך לך


When you’re having an argument and you know you’re right, do you ever compromise just to “keep the peace”? Is compromise always preferable? When Abram returns to Canaan, he and his nephew Lot have a great deal of sheep and their shepherds begin to fight and can’t seem to share the same land. The land has been promised by God to Abram, and he is older and should be respected by Lot. Yet, Abram approaches Lot and is very generous in offering him the first choice in where to live and graze his sheep. Did he do the right thing by offering this compromise?

Look inside the text (Bereshit 13:5-9),

וְגַם לְלוֹט הַהֹלֵךְ אֶת אַבְרָם הָיָה צֹאן וּבָקָר וְאֹהָלִים

Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents,

 וְלֹא נָשָׂא אֹתָם הָאָרֶץ לָשֶׁבֶת יַחְדָּו כִּי הָיָה רְכוּשָׁם רָב וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לָשֶׁבֶת יַחְדָּו

so that the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were so great that they could not remain together

 וַיְהִי רִיב בֵּין רֹעֵי מִקְנֵה אַבְרָם וּבֵין רֹעֵי מִקְנֵה לוֹט וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי אָז ישֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ

And there was fighting between the men of Abram’s cattle and those of Lot’s cattle—The Canaanites and Perizzites were then living in the land.

 וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל לוֹט אַל נָא תְהִי מְרִיבָה בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ וּבֵין רֹעַי וּבֵין רֹעֶיךָ כִּי אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים אֲנָחְנוּ

Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no difficulty between you and me, between my men and yours, for we are family.

 הֲלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ לְפָנֶיךָ הִפָּרֶד נָא מֵעָלָי אִם הַשְּׂמֹאל וְאֵימִנָה וְאִם הַיָּמִין וְאַשְׂמְאִילָה

Is not the whole land before you? Let us separate: if you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go north.”



Is it ever OK to lie? When there is a famine in Canaan, Avram and his family go to Egypt (where there is enough food). Avram tells Sarai, his wife, to say that she is his sister and not his wife because he is afraid his life will be in danger and he will be killed and she will be taken by the king. Was it OK for Avram to lie in this situation?

Look inside the text (Bereshit 12:10-12),

 וַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וַיֵּרֶד אַבְרָם מִצְרַיְמָה לָגוּר שָׁם כִּי כָבֵד הָרָעָב בָּאָרֶץ

 There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to travel there, for the famine was severe in the land

 וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת מַרְאֶה אָתְּ

As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

 וְהָיָה כִּי יִרְאוּ אֹתָךְ הַמִּצְרִים וְאָמְרוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ זֹאת וְהָרְגוּ אֹתִי וְאֹתָךְ יְחַיּוּ: יג אִמְרִי נָא אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לִי בַעֲבוּרֵךְ וְחָיְתָה נַפְשִׁי בִּגְלָלֵךְ

If the Egyptians see you, and think, ‘She is his wife,’ they will kill me and let you live.

Parashat Vayera - פרשת וירא


If you have two different mitzvot to do at the same time, which one should you do first? What if one is bein adam l’makom (a mitzvah between man and God) and one is bein adam l’chaveiro (a mitzvah between man and his fellow)? What takes priority? Why? Did you ever experience such a conflict? How did you resolve it? 

At the beginning of Parashat Vayera, God “appears” to Abraham, but nothing is written about what is said. Then, Abraham sees visitors and goes running to them. Chazal (the rabbis) use this example to illustrate the principle that “hospitality to a stranger is more important than receiving the Divine Presence.”

 Look inside the text (Bereshit 18: 1-2):

 וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו יְהֹוָה בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא וְהוּא ישֵׁב פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל כְּחֹם הַיּוֹם

God appeared to him in Alonei Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot.

 וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה שְׁלשָׁה אֲנָשִׁים נִצָּבִים עָלָיו וַיַּרְא וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אָרְצָה

Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground.



In last week’s parasha, we posed a question about lying in order to save your life. In this week’s parasha, we consider another angle of lying: is it OK to lie in order to “keep the peace” and not hurt someone’s feelings? Is telling only part of the story considered a lie? Has this ever happened to you?

When Sarah overhears that she will have a child she laughs and thinks that she and her husband are too old. But, when God reports this to Abraham, He says, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, I am too old?” not including that she mentioned Abraham also being too old. Rashi explains that God did this for the sake of peace. 

Look inside the text (Bereshit 18: 12-13):

 וַתִּצְחַק שָׂרָה בְּקִרְבָּהּ לֵאמֹר אַחֲרֵי בְלֹתִי הָיְתָה לִּי עֶדְנָה וַאדֹנִי זָקֵן

And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?”

 וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל אַבְרָהָם לָמָּה זֶּה צָחֲקָה שָׂרָה לֵאמֹר הַאַף אֻמְנָם אֵלֵד וַאֲנִי זָקַנְתִּי

Then God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying ‘How in truth can I have a child when I am so old?”


Parashat Chaye Sara - פרשת חיי שרה


How can you reconcile after having a fight or disagreement with someone who was once close to you or a family member? On the one hand, the last time we see Ishmael is when he is banished from Abraham’s house and he almost dies of thirst. Yet, when their father dies, Isaac and Ishmael join together to bury him. Imagine and discuss the conversation that took place between them which enabled them to come together and bury their father.

Look inside the text (Bereshit 25:9), 

וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ יִצְחָק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בָּנָיו אֶל מְעָרַת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה אֶל שְׂדֵה עֶפְרֹן בֶּן צֹחַר הַחִתִּי אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי מַמְרֵא

His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre.



How long does it take for you to judge if someone really is a good person? If you could only ask them one question to help you judge, what would that be? Abraham’s servant is given the task of finding a wife for Isaac. He asks her a key question to determine if she is a good person. How did this “test” prove the worthiness of the girl he was looking for?

Look inside the text (Bereshit 24:14),

 וְהָיָה הַנַּעֲרָ אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר אֵלֶיהָ הַטִּי נָא כַדֵּךְ וְאֶשְׁתֶּה וְאָמְרָה שְׁתֵה וְגַם גְּמַלֶּיךָ אַשְׁקֶה אֹתָהּ הֹכַחְתָּ לְעַבְדְּךָ לְיִצְחָק וּבָהּ אֵדַע כִּי עָשִׂיתָ חֶסֶד עִם אֲדֹנִי

Let the girl to whom I say, ‘Please, lower your jar that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels’—let her be the one who You have chosen for Your servant Isaac. From this, I will know that You have done kindness with my master.”

Parashat Toldot - פרשת תולדות


Is new always better? Is it sometimes better to continue with the “old” ways?  Is innovation always needed, or is there a value to maintaining tradition? When the Philistines fill up the wells dug by Abraham, Isaac does not dig new wells, but he digs up those same wells and even gives them the same names as his father did. In many ways, Isaac is not an innovator but follows the path of his father.

 Look inside the text (Bereshit 26:18)

 וַיָּשָׁב יִצְחָק וַיַּחְפֹּר אֶת בְּאֵרֹת הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר חָפְרוּ בִּימֵי אַבְרָהָם אָבִיו וַיְסַתְּמוּם פְּלִשְׁתִּים אַחֲרֵי מוֹת אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקְרָא לָהֶן שֵׁמוֹת כַּשֵּׁמֹת אֲשֶׁר קָרָא לָהֶן אָבִיו

Isaac dug again the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death, and he gave them the same names that his father had given them.



Is it ok to seize an opportunity even if it means not being kind? When Esau returns hungry and tired from the field, he finds Jacob preparing soup and asks for some. Jacob sees an opportunity to acquire the birthright (which he feels Esau does not deserve) and demands it as paymentIt seems that Esau doesn’t even want the birthright. Should Jacob have taken advantage of this opportunity?

Look inside the text (Bereshit 25: 29-34)

 וַיָּזֶד יַעֲקֹב נָזִיד וַיָּבֹא עֵשָׂו מִן הַשָּׂדֶה וְהוּא עָיֵף

Once when Yaakov was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, hungry

 וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו אֶל יַעֲקֹב הַלְעִיטֵנִי נָא מִן הָאָדֹם הָאָדֹם הַזֶּה כִּי עָיֵף אָנֹכִי עַל כֵּן קָרָא שְׁמוֹ אֱדוֹם

And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, because I am hungry”—which is why he was named Edom

 וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב מִכְרָה כַיּוֹם אֶת בְּכֹרָתְךָ לִי

Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”

 וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ לָמוּת וְלָמָּה זֶּה לִי בְּכֹרָה

And Esau said, “I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me?”

 וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב הִשָּׁבְעָה לִּי כַּיּוֹם וַיִּשָּׁבַע לוֹ וַיִּמְכֹּר אֶת בְּכֹרָתוֹ לְיַעֲקֹב

But Jacob said, “Promise me first.” So he promised him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.

 וְיַעֲקֹב נָתַן לְעֵשָׂו לֶחֶם וּנְזִיד עֲדָשִׁים וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְׁתְּ וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ וַיִּבֶז עֵשָׂו אֶת הַבְּכֹרָה

Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he got up and went away. In that way, Esau wasted his birthright.


For tips on how to host meaningful parasha discussions for older children, click HERE.

Parashat Bereshit - פרשת בראשית


The end of chapter 5 offers a vague description of a situation of men taking “choice” women. The commentaries struggle with explaining the event, but most explanations involve people in positions of power, whether physical, social, or financial, using that power to achieve their desires. Is it wrong for people who have influence to actually use it? For example, is there anything wrong with parents using their contacts to help secure a place for their children in the school of their choice, to get an interview with a particular firm, or to get an early appointment with a particular doctor? If a parent feels uncomfortable using their influence and does not use his/her influence, is their behavior ethically correct or are they being delinquent in their responsibility as a parent?



When Shet (the third son of Adam & Eve) is born, his name is explained that he is the replacement for Hevel, whom Kayyin had killed. When a parent names a child after someone else (usually deceased, in the Ashkenazic tradition, or alive, in the Sefardic tradition) does it place an unfair burden on the child, or is it a gift of a legacy?

Parashat Noah - פרשת נח


Marital relations were forbidden during the Flood because they would have been inappropriate in a time when the world was drenched in sorrow. Is it necessary, or appropriate, for individuals to suspend their personal lives and aspirations when the broader community faces a serious crisis? Many people refused to have children during the Shoah while others insisted on doing so as an affirmation of life. What would you do?



Noah decrees that his grandson, Canaan, is to be a servant to his brothers. Does that suggest that, for all eternity, Canaan’s descendants are destined to slavery? Can such a “decree” be undone? Can it be that our fate is predetermined by the actions of our ancestors?

Parashat Lekh Lekha - פרשת לך לך


Why did God demand Avram leave his family to pursue the Divine mission? Might Avram not have been more successful operating within a familiar culture – why did he need to leave and enter a new place in order to fulfill his destiny?



Pharaoh pays Avram handsomely for Sarai, whom Pharaoh believed was Avram’s sister. As a result, Avram’s wealth increases substantially. Is it ethical to reap the benefits of an immoral act? Similar debates raged after the Shoah as to whether it was appropriate to accept reparations from Nazi Germany. Would doing so effectively put a price on human life?

Parashat Vayera - פרשת וירא


After an uncomfortable incident with Avimelekh (a Philistine king), the king offers to establish a treaty with Abraham. Abraham gently rebukes Avimelekh but then signs the treaty. Is it appropriate to hold a grudge and not allow someone the opportunity to make amends? Is it appropriate to “forgive and forget” and ignore wrongs that were done previously? What are the disadvantages of each approach? Is one approach “more correct” than the other?



Lot is advised to flee the city of Sodom in advance of its destruction. He tries to encourage his family members to join, but most don’t pay much attention to his warning. Should Lot have at least told his neighbors, or announced to the townspeople, that something terrible was about to happen, and give some the opportunity to save themselves? If you knew that a fire had just broken out, would you not warn your neighbors to get out of harm’s way? If you found out about an opportunity to make a large sum of money, would you tell others about it or keep it a secret?

Parashat Chaye Sara - פרשת חיי שרה


Eliezer asks God to send him a sign that the woman greeting him is indeed the appropriate mate for Isaac. Is it appropriate to ask God for signs? Can we expect God to respond to such requests? Do such requests turn God into our servant, rather than the reverse?



Abraham has additional children with Keturah, but sends them away from Isaac. What happens to those descendants later in history? What kind of relationship do they develop with the descendants of Isaac? What impact may their being sent away have on them, or on Isaac Is it possible that Isaac’s desire to keep Esau close at hand is a reaction to his father’s handling of his own brothers?

Parashat Toldot - פרשת תולדות


Following in his father’s footsteps, Isaac tells Avimelekh that Rebecca is his sister. How important is it to be truthful? Are there circumstances in which it is justified to say things that are not true? How should someone feel about having to violate their own word? What dangers does such a practice, even if justified, carry for the person who is dishonest?



God gives a message to Rebecca about her children, yet there is no indication that she shared that message with Isaac. How might the story have turned had God NOT delivered that message to her? How might the story have turned out had she shared that message with Isaac? How might the story be different had Jacob and Esau told Isaac about the sale of the birthright?