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…

Journey Forward (Beshalach)

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“…Why do you cry out to Me…Let them journey forward!” (Exodus 14:15) Sandwiched between the sea and the Egyptian army, the Jews froze. Their mission seemed doomed. God answered conclusively: “Keep Going”! There are times when our children, in pursuit of a lofty goal, are going to hit a wall and feel stuck.  Now is when they need us most. Not to solve the problem, but to give them the…

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…

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…

Teaching Compassion (Shemot)

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“…And Moses matured and went out to his brethren and he empathized with their burdens..” (Exodus 2:11) Our greatest leader’s first recorded acts were compassionate ones. Some are naturally compassionate, and others hopefully learn. But, how do you teach children compassion? Below are 3 ways to begin: Help them name and understand their emotions. This gives them a language with which to…

"Reign it In"! (Vayechi)

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Reuben, you are my first-born, my might and 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…

Sharing the Power of Perspective (Vayigash)

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“So, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8) One of the most important things we can share with our children is perspective. Given our life experience, we know that things are often not what they seem in the moment. We’ve learned that joy can lead to pain and disappointments…

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…

Turning Into Our Parents (Vayeshev)

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“Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an ornamented tunic.” (Genesis 37:3) Without getting into the ethics of loving one child more than another, it is important to recognize that Jacob himself was raised in a home where “favorites” where chosen. Earlier we are told that: “Isaac loved Eisav…and Rebecca loved Jacob”…

You’re Good, What You Did Wasn't (Vayishlach)

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“Cursed is their anger..” He only rebuked their display of anger, not them. (Rashi on Genesis 49:6) Teenagers Levi and Shimon, avenging their sister’s disgrace, deceive and destroy an entire city and its inhabitants. Jacob hears and does not approve. Yet, he only reproves them for their display of anger. He says it was wrong, uncalled for and damaging . He does not say that they are violent,…