Parenting is tricky. We may attempt to balance our individual desires with our instinctive urge to direct our children. The result can sometimes be a confused melding of the two: setting up our children to live their lives the way we want to live ours. We may push them to get into a school we admire or play a sport we like, even if it’s not necessarily the right thing for them. Our children are unique individuals with their own sets of needs and desires.

Torah portion Matot relates the quandary presented by two and a half tribes of the Jewish nation. The plan was for the entire nation to cross over the Jordan River and inherit their land on its western side. This group expressed to Moses that the eastern side was the best place for their families and their wish to remain there. Moses questioned them and ultimately made an agreement whereby they could remain on the eastern side while the men who were warriors would continue the campaign with the rest of the nation.

We need to be sure that the decisions we make for our children are truly for their own good. We cannot provide our children with happiness, but we can give them tools to achieve happiness themselves. To do so, we must ensure that we know our children well, and understand their unique qualities, and be willing to forgo our own dreams to help them pursue theirs.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about what brings happiness to each individual.


  • What activities (art, music, sports, reading, and writing) do you enjoy most?
  • How can you do more of activities you enjoy?
  • What activities don’t you like and why?

By Rabbi Moshe Becker

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.