Category: communication

SIBLING RIVALRY…

BERESHIT — Family tensions are easily created between siblings. Feeling overshadowed because of the accomplishments of our brother or sister, or feeling overlooked by parents, are frequent causes. How can we avoid these common family dilemmas? This week’s Torah portion, Bereshit, includes the story of Cain and Abel and man’s first violent act: a lashing out of brother against brother based on family tension, jealousy and perceived favoritism. When Cain is asked, after he killed Abel, where his brother is, he answers, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Torah is clearly teaching that the answer is definitely YES to Cain’s question. What can we do in our families to...

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DEVELOPING THE ABILITY TO LISTEN…

HA-AZINU — We all want our children to listen. There are several kinds of listening that we expect from our children: obedience to what we tell them to do, paying attention generally to what we say, and taking in our criticism. But often children choose not to or can’t listen to what we tell them. All of these different kinds of listening can be difficult for children, whether they simply want to do what they want to do, or because their attention is elsewhere, or finally because it’s hard to hear criticism. Our Torah portion begins with the injunction...

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WHEN YOUR CHILD DISOBEYS…

VAYELECH — Disobedience is an inevitable and often unpleasant issue every parent has to confront What’s a parent to do? It helps to remember that children need to test limits at times in order to feel safe. What they are usually looking for is consistency in setting limits. When firm, appropriate boundaries are set, it’s as if a safe container has been created that holds the child secure in the knowledge that his or her parents care. In our parsha this week, Vayelech, God tells Moses that God’s people will be disobedient and violate the covenant. Nevertheless, God keeps...

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GROWTH THROUGH DISCOMFORT…

VAYELECH — You probably don’t enjoy pain. Most people don’t. You probably don’t enjoy uncomfortable confrontations or difficult tasks either. It’s easy enough to take a pill to alleviate pain, but we shouldn’t be running from every tough spot. Instead, challenging situations should be seen for what they are: valuable growth opportunities. Moses nears the end of his life. He is old and frail, but this does not stop him from making the most of his days. He uses his time to speak to his people and impart final words of guidance and wisdom. It isn’t easy for him,...

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DECEIVING OURSELVES…

KI TAYTZAY — “You can run, but you can’t hide”. We all have our demons, the parts of ourselves that we wish were better or wish didn’t exist within us. The best way to deal with them is to acknowledge their reality, confront them, and challenge them. Only then do we stand a chance of working them out of our system. This week’s Torah portion, Ki Taytzay, contains a wonderful mitzvah. We are instructed to return lost objects that we may find lying in the street. Though I may be appreciative of this when I am the owner who...

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