One Matzah, One Process

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Matzah, fills you up and keeps you satisfied. Jews ate a lot of it as slaves in Egypt.  Strangely enough, God instructed the Jews to eat that very same food on the night before their long awaited redemption. One matzah, two experiences; slavery and freedom. But is it really? Can you experience victory without the pain of loss? Can you appreciate the sweetness of sunshine without the numbing of darkness.…

Of Hooves, Paws and the Play of Forms

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A ongoing question I ask myself: "Am I losing myself in everyday events and circumstances? Am I too immersed, too bound to the "forms" that never cease to occupy the space of my existence?" When situations hook me into emotional experiences that narrow my perspective and overwhelm my available resources, I know the balance is off. Looking for an appropriate lens to moderate this experience, I recently…

24 Hours of Presence.

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Jon Kabat-Zinn describing mindfulness... "...This is what stopping can do. There is nothing passive about it. And when you decide to go, it's a different kind of going because you stopped. The stopping actually makes the going more vivid, richer, more textured. It helps keep all the things we worry about and feel inadequate about in perspective. It gives us guidance." But he could have been describing…

The Joyful Parent (Adar - Pekudei)

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In communication there are: The words we use. The underlying message we transmit with our facial gestures, body language and tone. In most relationships and especially in relating to our children, the second is much more significant as it transmits the emotional dimension of our message. Because emotion is the language of bonding and connection, regardless of what we say, if we say it in…

Crushed to Illuminate (Tetzaveh)

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“..They shall take to you, pure olive oil that is crushed, to illuminate…” (Exodus 27:20) Teaching your child how to deal with challenges and difficulties is one of the most important and difficult things a parent has to do.  Our inclination is to rescue, but our responsibility is to guide and support.  A beautiful analogy that can help us understand the benefit of helping our children…

A Parent’s Honor: A Child’s Privilege (Mishpatim)

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“One who curses his mother or father…..” (Exodus 21:15) The Torah takes the honoring of parents very seriously. Some parents are not comfortable in this role. They don’t feel they deserve such honor and don’t want to impose these requirements on their children. While sounding noble, such an attitude is destructive. Parents should remember 2 things: Your honor as a parent has nothing…

10 Suggestions for Encouraging a Jewish “Growth” Mindset in (ourselves and) Our Children:

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EMPATHIZE AND MODEL   1. Be open with them regarding your own past struggles and share the work and the process that led you to overcome the challenge. 2. Admit that there are (many) things that you still struggle with every day, haven’t yet mastered, and continue to work on and improve in. NORMALIZE AND EMPOWER 3. Normalize the struggle by explaining that God created us with “competing…

Consequences? First, an Alternative.

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Moses is sent to redeem the Jewish nation from Egypt. Despite their lowly spiritual state he is not instructed by God to rebuke them or insist they change their ways before they can be taken out. It's time and this is their destiny. It is only later on, when they are given their first divine commandment that they are warned not to engage in the pagan practices they had become habituated to in Egypt. Similarly,…

Enough for Us All (Miketz-Hannukah)

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Pharaoh has a dream. 7 healthy, robust cows emerge from the Nile which symbolize the 7 years of plenty to come. Like the cows, when there is enough, everyone looks happy and healthy; the natural tendency toward competition, selfishness and jealousy is absent.  Perhaps, for this reason we learn our model of parenting from Hashem, Himself. God is the source of limitless abundance and has enough unconditional…

Threat or Opportunity? (Vayera)

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When Lot was forced to run away from Sodom and told to flee to the mountains, he begged not to be forced to go there. Why the resistance? Because his uncle Abraham lived there and apparently he did not want to be measured up against him. Lot was more comfortable living in a place like Sodom where he looked like a pretty impressive guy compared to his neighbors. Lot was not concerned about growth.…