The Power of "But" (Shelach)

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The sin of the spies in the week’s portion turned on one word: “But". As instructed, the spies returned with a report. Then, with the word “but” they shared what the report meant to them. And everything went downhill from there. FACT: Children exhibit behaviors. We then observe those behaviors and have thoughts and feelings about them. Like the spies, that is what those behaviors mean…

Never Arriving, Always Learning.

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In Temple times, if you were unable to bring the Passover offering in its designated time (14th of Nissan) you had a 2nd chance a month later to make it happen (Numbers 9:6) This is a glaring example of the Torah’s conditioning us to the perspective of constantly looking forward.   The Growth Mindset - “What can I learn from what just happened and how can I improve next time?” - is…

The Family Foundation (Naso)

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The sacred dimension of husband and wife is brought into full focus this week as we learn about the procedure of erasing God’s name in hope of preserving the marriage (Numbers 5:23). A marriage of two individuals is inherently unstable. Triangulation with the divine dimension is what provides the relationship with healthy depth and stability. This foundational element is indispensable for the…

Want To Count? Contribute. (Bamidbar)

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As they begin their journey into Israel, the Jews are counted (Numbers 1:1). In order to be counted you had to bring a “half shekel” donation to Moshe and Aaron. You had to contribute. A common mistake parents make is the belief that their job is to make their children FEEL good. It is not. It is the parent’s job to teach the child how to DO good, to contribute.  Life is about contribution…

Construct Before You Deconstruct (Behar-Behukotai)

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In the 1st portion of our double parsha we learn about what behaviors God expects from us when we enter into Israel (Leviticus Ch. 25).  In the second portion we hear of the positive outcomes when we do as God expects from us (ibid., Ch.26:3). We also hear about the punishments that will happen if we repeatedly fail to live up to those expectations. Parenting behavior should follow a similar sequence: …

Animal Attachment (Emor)

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   A newborn animal must remain with its mother.  For the first week of its life, neither the mother nor its offspring can be brought as an offering (Leviticus 22:27). It is possible that the Torah is recognizing an animal's basic “attachment” needs and therefore it would be cruel to separate mother and child at birth. Consistent connection to a loving caretaker is crucial for healthy…

That's a Lot of 'Do Nots'!

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“Love your fellow as yourself”, finally something we can all agree upon. But right before and after those positive, reaffirming words are dozens of “Do Nots” (‘Don’t cheat, gossip, bystand, plant forbidden seed mixtures, etc.).  How does it all fit together and what’s the parenting message? Kids crave love. And yet, they need something else just as much: Boundaries and limitations…

Compassion Cures (Tazria-Metzorah)

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The diagnosis of the spiritual skin affliction known as “tzaraat”’can only be diagnosed by a kohein (priest).  A reason given is that kohanim (priests), known for their kindness and compassion, are the only ones that can tell someone they have a spiritual affliction (tzaraat) that they need to fix. Similarly, if we are angry or upset with our child, it is not the time to tell him that he…

Because That's How I Feel! (Shemini)

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It’s the 1st day of the month of Nissan and the divine presence finally inhabits its earthly home in the mishkan (tabernacle). But a day intended to be filled with joy is stained by the death of Aaron’s sons. Their sin? They felt a strong, seemingly legitimate feeling, expressed it and violated a boundary that cost them their life. This episode leads me to ask: How do we effectively deal with…

The Song of Sacrifice (Tzav)

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  This week's Torah portion continues to describe the sacrificial service in the Temple. The sages of the Talmud comment that when a person brings an offering, it should not be a perfunctory, superficial ritual, but he should have the intent of offering himself to God. Understandably, this is demanding work. Sacrifice is difficult and uncomfortable. That is why an essential part of the temple…