You Called? (Vayikra)

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"And He called to Moses and God spoke to him..." (Leviticus 1:1)  Our sages tell us that every time God communicated with Moshe, He first lovingly called to him by his name: “Moshe…” Parents, on the other hand, often use their child’s name when they are upset. Some parents are careful to specifically use their full name when they are really upset(“Yosef Shlomo Cohen, come here right…

The "Shabbat" of Parenting (Vayakel-Pekudei)

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In this parsha the mishkan (tabernacle), the home for the divine is finally built. We are told that work on the holy mishkan is set aside for the even holier time of Shabbat. The work of the mishkan represents our active and creative engagement with the world to make it into dwelling place for God. Shabbat, on the other hand, celebrates the godliness inherent in creation. The beauty within. The…

The Half Shekel Mindset (Ki Tisa)

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The Jews are commanded to submit to a census by donating a half shekel coin to the National treasury. A half shekel seems to be a strange denomination to represent a whole person?! A relevant parenting lesson that can be derived from this is for us to see our children as “incomplete” works in progress. A common parenting error is to ascribe fixed qualities to our children based on specific behaviors.…

The Power of Loss (Terumah)

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A parent’s job description is to nurture and guide a child into responsible, self-confident adulthood. A crucial part of this is helping him process failure and loss. We step back from trying to save and rescue and stand by his side as he processes his feelings, learns from what happened and blazes a new path forward. The building of the mishkan (tabernacle) in the desert, was the path the Jewish…

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…

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…