Mother's Milk (Yitro)

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And G-d called to Moses from the mountain saying: 'This is what you shall tell the house of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel'. (Exodus 19:3) The ‘house of Jacob’ refers to the Jewish women. (Rashi)   The offer to receive the Torah and become G-d’s nation went to the women first. Why? Because a mother is the conduit for a child’s identity and essence. Identity is the context…

The Illusion of Authoritarian Parenting (Vaera)

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  Aaron cast down his rod in the presence of Pharaoh….and it turned into a serpent… and the Egyptian magicians, in turn, did the same with their spells. (Exodus 7:10-11) Aaron was given the divine ability to turn his staff into a snake. The Egyptian sorcerers appeared to do the same with theirs. This is a great analogy for 2 parenting styles that seem to get the same results: Take a child…

Values are Caught, Not Taught (Bo)

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“…When your children ask, what is this service to you? You shall say…” (Exodus 12:25-26) Education is a parental responsibility. Because the Torah views education, not as an accumulation of knowledge, but mainly as a transmission of divine values, parents are the most appropriate people to accomplish this task. Why? Because values are transmitted as an organic part of daily living. You can’t…

"Reign it In"! (Vayechi)

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Reuben, you are my first-born, my might and the first fruit of my vigor, exceeding in rank and exceeding in honor…unstable as water….you brought disgrace… (Genesis 49:3-4). Rueben made a mistake. He was emotional, acted impulsively and it cost him. Mistakes are forgivable, but their consequences remain. In an online world mistakes can be especially costly. A poorly considered Instagram/Facebook…

The Path to Adulthood (Miketz)

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And Pharaoh said to his courtiers, “Could we find another like him, a man in whom is the spirit of G-d?” (Genesis 41:38) In last week’s parsha (Vayeshev), Yosef is referred to as a “lad” (נער).  In this week’s parsha, Pharaoh calls him a “man” (איש).  One might say that Yosef matured into a man, not simply by the passage of years but by his experiences during that time and…

Fortified from Within (Vayetzeh)

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One day soon, our children are going to head out into the world. They will be on their own dealing with challenges that we are all too familiar with.  How can we best prepare them for the reality of an often harsh and uncaring world? Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to be broken in early. “I am God…Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back…

To Label or Not to Label? (Toldot)

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To Label or Not to Label? “And the youths grew up, and Esau was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, whereas Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents.”(Genesis 25:27) Do you label your child(ren)? Is she the goofy, athletic one and he the quiet, musical one? Is labeling helpful? Is it harmful? In my experience, it’s a fine line. On the one hand, we try and identify…

In the Field, for You. (Re'eh)

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This Shabbat we welcome the Jewish month of Elul. Elul is the last month of the Jewish year and a time of preparation for the upcoming High Holidays. The Chassidic masters describe Elul as a time when “the King is in the field”; God figuratively leaves His inner chamber, His palace, His royal city and comes to be together with each of us, where we are – “in the field”. This is a most beautiful…

Keep It Simple (Va'etchanan)

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In this week’s portion Moshe reviews the experience of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. Often translated as the “10 commandments” the aseret hadibrot, given then, are more accurately translated as the “10 Principles”. In fact, there are a total of 613 commandments that we are potentially bound to by the Torah. Yet, G-d chose 10 principles to focus on at the moment of revelation. In fact,…

Remember When...(Matot-Masei)

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After 40 years, the Jewish nation is on the cusp of entering into the Holy Land and God reviews with them the 42 stops of their long and difficult journey through the desert. God seems to want to communicate that despite all that they have been through together, He did not abandon them. Similarly, as they inhabit Israel and enter a more mundane existence, God reassures the nascent nation that He will…