Va'eira 5772

January 15, 2012

7 min read


Va'eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35 )

GOOD MORNING! Four elderly ladies were sitting in silence around a card table at the Jewish retirement home.  One lady sighs, "Oy".  The second lady laments, "Oy vey".  The third lady groans, "Oy, vey iz mir" ("Oh, woe is me") ... and the fourth lady brusquely responds, "I thought we agreed not to talk about the kids!"

Raising good kids is not easy, there are no college courses ... and by the time you're experienced, you're out of a job.  I asked noted family counselor and author, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, to share some thoughts for success.



  1. Love your children unconditionally.
  2. Each day tell your children you love them.  All you have to say is three words, "I love you."  If this is difficult for you, there is a greater need to say it.
  3. Speak and act in ways that you give your children a positive self-image.  Believe in your child.  Believe in his abilities and potential.  Say explicitly, "I believe in you."  How do you know when you are successful at this?  When your child says, "I see that you believe in me."
  4. Be a role model for the traits and qualities that you want your children to have.
  5. Clarify the main positive qualities you want your child to develop.  Keep praising those qualities.  Reinforce those qualities when your child speaks or acts in ways consistent with that quality.
  6. Realize that each child is unique and different.  Understand each child's uniqueness and take it into consideration when challenges arise.
  7. Word your comments positively.  Focus on the outcome you want.  For example, "By developing this quality (for example, taking action right away), you will be more successful in life."  (Rather than saying the opposite.)
  8. Keep asking yourself, "What is the wisest thing to say to my child right now?"  Especially say this when your child has messed up.
  9. Read great books to your children.
  10. When you come across a story that could have an important positive lesson for your child, relate it.  Look for stories that teach lessons.  Ask people for stories that had a positive influence on their lives.  Share your day with your kids so they know what you do and can learn from you and your experiences.
  11. Create a calm, loving atmosphere in your home.  Consistently speak in a calm and loving tone of voice.  Even when challenges arise for you, speak in a tone of voice that is balanced.
  12. Master patience.  Life is a seminar in character development.  Your children are your partners in helping you become a more patient person.
  13. Conquer anger.  See, hear, and feel yourself being a calm person who has mastered the ability to maintain an emotional and mental state of being centered, focused, and flowing.
  14. If you make a mistake when interacting with your children, apologize.  They will ultimately respect you more than if you try to deny a mistake.
  15. Keep asking people you know and meet, "What did you like about what your parents said and did?"
  16. Watch other parents interact with their children.  Notice what you like.  Apply the positive patterns.
  17. Watch other parents interact with their children.  Notice what you don't like.  Think about ways that you might be doing the same.  Resolve not to speak and act that way.
  18. Express gratitude daily in front of your children.  Ask them regularly, "What are you grateful for?"
  19. Become a master at evaluating events, situations, and occurrences in a realistic positive way.  Frequently ask your children, "What would be a positive way of looking at this?" Or, "How can we grow from this?"
  20. When your children make mistakes, help them learn from those mistakes.  Have them mentally picture themselves at their best.
  21. Each and every day ask yourself, "What can I say and do to be an even better parent?"


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Torah Portion of the Week

Here begins the story of the Ten Plagues which God put upon the Egyptians not only to effect the release of the Jewish people from bondage, but to show the world that He is the God of all creation and history.  The first nine plagues are divisible into three groups: 1) the water turning to blood, frogs, lice 2) wild beasts, pestilence/epidemic, boils 3) hail, locust, and darkness.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that these were punishments measure for measure for afflicting the Jewish people with slavery: 1) The first of each group reduced Egyptians in their own land to the insecurity of strangers.  2) The second of each group robbed them of pride, possessions and a sense of superiority.  3) The third in each group imposed physical suffering.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding the Plague of Blood:

"And the Lord said to Moshe, say to Aharon: Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, their rivers and their pools, and over every gathering of their water, that they may become blood; throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone" (Exodus 7:19).

Why is Aharon (Moses' brother) and not Moses commanded to initiate this plague?

Rashi, one of the greatest Biblical commentators, cites the Midrash Shemot Rabbah to answer this question.  It explains that Aharon, rather than Moses, was chosen to initiate the plague of blood because the water had protected Moses when he was cast into it as an infant in a basket.  It would, therefore, not be proper for Moses to smite the water which helped save him.

How can this be?  Water is an inanimate object which does not have free will.  When something floats in water and does not sink, it would not occur to us to give thanks to the water for its buoyancy.  Nevertheless, we learn from this verse that if a person derives pleasure from an object, he should show his gratitude by being careful not to cause harm or damage to the object, even though it would not suffer pain.  As the Talmud (Bava Kama 92b) states: "If you drank water from a well, do not throw stones at it".  Although this advice is basically meant as a metaphor for people who have given you something, the literal meaning should not be ignored.

Since this is true concerning inanimate objects, all the more so we must show gratitude towards people who have shown us kindness.  Unfortunately, there is a saying "No good deed goes unpunished".  People often times not only don't show gratitude, but they return indifference or bad for good.  We must make it one of our personal goals in life to always think "who has helped me and who can I thank today."   Let your attitude be gratitude.  Not only will you be happier, but so will those around you.


(or go to

Jerusalem 4:22
Guatemala 5:37 - Hong Kong 5:45 - Honolulu 5:56
J'Burg 6:46 - London 4:10 - Los Angeles 4:53
Melbourne 8:24 - Mexico City 6:03 - Miami 5:38
New York 4:40 - Singapore 6:59 - Toronto 4:54


Children will often fail to listen to their parents.
However, they rarely fail to follow their example...


With Deep Appreciation to

Wafik Nodeir



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