Minding Your Own Business Vs. Intervening

Sh'mot: A resource for families.


Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

Sometimes we see things, whether at work or at school, and we know they are wrong. But the question for us is to decide when to intervene. We all make decisions regarding when it’s “just not our business” and when it would be wrong not to say something. But knowing which is which is difficult.  If we see someone helpless being demeaned, it’s important to step in and help out. Whether acting discreetly or out in the open is a decision we will have to make in each situation.

shmot for familiesIn our Torah parashah this week, Moses grows up and begins to feel compassion for his people who are suffering in slavery. One day he sees two Hebrews fighting and confronts the one who started the conflict. He simply says to him, “Why do you strike your fellow?” Moses’s action tells us that simply asking the right question at the right moment can serve as a powerful intervention to protect someone from being hurt.

Talk to your children about the difference between minding your own business and knowing when to intervene. It’s not an easy distinction to make. But parents can become a model for their children in knowing the difference between when to intervene concerning their children’s behavior and when to just let things be.  

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about Moses intervening when he sees two of his brethren fighting.
·    Have you ever seen a situation where you felt as if you should have gotten involved and didn’t?
·    What happened? What do you think you could have done?
·    When are times not to get involved and when are times to get involved?
·    If a situation seems unsafe for you to intervene, what else might you do?

© Copyright 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar

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Dianne Cohler-Esses is the first Syrian Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi. She was ordained in 1995 at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is currently a freelance educator and writer, teaching and writing about a wide range of Jewish subjects. She lives in New York City with her journalist husband and their three children.

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