Lech Lecha 5771
Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17 )
GOOD MORNING! I once saw a bumper sticker: "Hug Your Kids at Home; Belt Them in the Car". Obviously, the bumper sticker is a safety message to parents and not an invitation to child abuse. It is important to hug kids and to tell them "I love you!" I suspect very few of us - or our kids - ever complained that their parents hugged them too much or told them too many times "I love you."
A child needs to feel loved and safe. I try to ask each of my children at least once a day, "Do you know who loves you?" By now they know that the first answer is "God" (God loves each of us even more than we love our kids! It's important for kids to know this.) Then I ask them, "And who else?" And the child replies, "Daddy and Mommy!" Think what a wonderful epitaph it would be to have your children remember you by how you drove them "crazy" with hugs and kisses and asking them "Who loves you?"
A child needs physical contact with his parents. Here's a fun game called the "Rah Game": (1) the parent thinks of a spot on his face (i.e., the end of his nose). (2) The child guesses the spot by touching a spot on the parent's face. (3) If it is the wrong spot, the parent makes a funny face. (4) The child tries again; if it's the wrong spot, the parent makes a different funny face. When the child touches the right spot, the parent says, "RAH!" Then they switch roles and the child thinks of a spot on his face and has to make funny faces. There is a variation on this game called the "Boo Game." It's just like the "Rah Game," but instead of "RAH!" you say "BOO!"
Perhaps the most precious moments of the day are sitting with my children on their beds before they go to sleep. I and/or my wife hold them and listen to them say the Shema ("Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One" and the first paragraph following in the Siddur/prayer book) and the blessing before going to sleep. One says the Shema and the blessing to affirm trust in God and that He should watch out for you while you sleep.
What a wonderful way to end the day for a child - to be held and kissed by his parents and to go to sleep knowing that God is watching over him. (The Artscroll prayer book has the bedtime prayers in English and Hebrew. You can get it at your local Jewish bookstore, at JudaicaEnterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242. You might also wish to buy a copy of To Raise A Jewish Child by Rabbi Hayim Donin; you won't regret it!)
The old saying goes that "no one ever said on his death bed, 'I wish I spent more time at the office.'" There is no greater pleasure and no better investment in future pleasure than spending time with your children. Kids get the message loud and clear as to what your priorities are if you spend more time at work or in front of the TV than with them. People talk of "Quality Time" vs. "Quantity Time." Here's the truth: "Quality Time" is "Quantity Time"! The more time you spend with your kids, the more your kids know that they are priorities in your life and that you love them! Also, show them that you love them by praising them. For example:
For more on "Raising Kids" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Almighty commands Avram (later renamed Avraham) to leave Haran and go to the "place that I will show you" (which turned out to be the land of Canaan - later renamed the Land of Israel). The Almighty then gives Avram an eternal message to the Jewish people and to the nations of the world, "I will bless those who bless you and he who curses you I will curse." Finding a famine, Avram travels to Egypt (once renamed to be part of the United Arab Republic) asking Sarai (later renamed Sarah), to say she is his sister so they won't kill him to marry her (the Egyptians were particular not to commit adultery ... so they would kill the husband instead).
Pharaoh evicts Avram from Egypt after attempting to take Sarai for a wife. They settle in Hebron (also known as Kiryat Arba) and his nephew Lot settles in Sodom. Avram rescues Lot - who was taken captive - in the Battle of the Four Kings against the Five Kings.
Entering into a covenant with the Almighty (all covenants with the Almighty are eternal, never to be abrogated or replaced by new covenants), Avram is told that his descendants will be enslaved for 400 years and that his descendants (via Isaac, "... through Isaac will offspring be considered yours" Gen. 21:8) will be given the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."
Sarai, childless, gives her handmaid Hagar to Avram for a wife so that he will have children. Ishmael (the alter zedeh - the grandfather - of our Arab cousins) is born. The covenant of brit mila, religious circumcision, is made (read 17:3-8), God changes their names to Avraham and Sarah and tells them that Sarah will give birth to Yitzhak (Isaac). Avraham circumcises all the males of his household.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And (the Almighty) took (Avraham) outside and He said to him, 'Look up, please, at the heavens and count the stars, if you can count them.' And He said to him, 'So, too, will be your descendants'" (Genesis 15:5).
Was the Almighty just telling Avraham about the number of his descendants - or was there a deeper message?
The Baal Shem Tov explained that the descendants of Avraham are like stars. We see the stars from a great distance and they appear to be mere tiny specks, but in reality in the heaven they are gigantic. So, too, in this world many people look very small. However, in reality they have greatness!
When you look at another person - particularly, a child - realize that he is like a star. He might seem small to you. He might not appear as having accomplished very much. Gain an awareness of the great potential of each person. View each person as an entire world, as an enormous being in the cosmos.
When you see people in this light you will behave towards them with great respect. When you show others this respect, they will gain greater respect for themselves. This can give a person the encouragement he needs to live up to his potential greatness!
CANDLE LIGHTING - October 15
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:24 - Hong Kong 5:41 - Honolulu 5:49
J'Burg 5:55 - London 5:50 - Los Angeles 6:02
Melbourne 6:91 - Mexico City 6:55 - Miami 6:36
New York 5:59 - Singapore 6:35 - Toronto 6:17
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
What a child doesn't receive
he can seldom later give.
-- P. D. James
Mazal Tov to
Eli & Chana Lebovics
on the birth of