V'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 )
GOOD MORNING! Two weeks ago I shared the story of taking my son into a room to be spanked, deciding that he didn't need to be spanked because he knew what he did was wrong, regretted it and wouldn't do it again. I told him, "I am going to slap my knee and you are going to yell out." He smiled, loving the idea. I hit my knee and he cried out. I did it a second time and he cried. I did it a third time and he cried out even louder. Cautioning him to look solemn and regretful, we walked out of the room.
For 25 years I loved this story -- my cleverness, bonding with my son, expressing love and understanding for my son -- until I received the following email from Rubin Guttman: "To spank or not to spank is a valid question. To teach your son that lying and deception are a virtue is far from a good thing. Teaching him to lie to his siblings is hardly a foundation for good adult relationships or a lesson in Torah behavior. If avoiding a spanking is a good reason for the two of you to collaborate in lying to his siblings, what lesson is he to learn from this? Is eating on Tisha B'Av or Yom Kippur okay as long as you do it behind closed doors and complain about your 'hunger' to others? I'd respectfully urge you to rethink what you've done and what you've written."
It was an epiphany! For 25 years I never even thought of that point. I immediately wrote him back, "I agree!" It was actually a bit shocking. Blind-sided by own arrogance and self-righteousness. Of course, Mr. Guttman is right. I am grateful to him and thank him!
The Torah teaches us to strive for goals -- to be righteous, to do the Almighty's will, to perfect our character. We strive for the goals and we make mistakes -- and hopefully we correct them. As I mentioned last week, that process is called Teshuva, returning to the proper path. Teshuva is a four part process: 1) We must recognize what we have done wrong and regret it 2) We must stop doing the transgression and correct whatever damage that we can, including asking forgiveness from those whom we have hurt -- and making restitution, if due 3) We must accept upon ourselves not to do it again 4) We must verbally ask the Almighty to forgive us.
Our sages tell us that those who strive to improve themselves review their whole day before going to sleep and don't retire until they have done Teshuva for their mistakes. Hopefully, it is a lesson each of us can take to heart.
Raising children is complex. One can aim for teaching one lesson and end up teaching something else. A parent can reprove his/her son or daughter for lying, be interrupted by a phone call and respond to the person delivering the message, "Tell him I am not here." A disconnect in values and behavior. We need to be self-aware that we "walk the talk" of what we want our children to learn. A friend once told me, "A parent only owes his child three things: example, example, example."
For years I have anguished over a child-rearing decision my wife and I made when my young son got bike-jacked. He won a bike in a contest. His first ride on it, two bigger boys threw him off the bike and rode off on it. We immediately took him to a store and bought him a replacement bike. What was my anguish? This was an opportunity for my son to learn about dealing with difficulties in life -- there are cruel, selfish people who will take no matter who they hurt and that one has to deal with his emotions and grow from the situation. We could have helped him understand this lesson and then later buy him a bicycle.
Recently, I shared that anguish with my son who is now 30. He responded, "But you taught me what it is to be a loving, caring parent! It's a lesson I'll remember forever."
It has been said that being a parent is the only job that by the time you are trained and experienced you are out of a job.
Meanwhile, the smart parent will seek help from those who have knowledge, experience and wisdom. There are a number of good books including: Raising a Child with Soul: How Time-Tested Jewish Wisdom Can Shape Your Child's Character by Rebbetzin Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, Make Me, Don't Break Me by Rabbi Moshe Gans, My Child, My Disciple by Rabbi Noach Orlowek, To Raise a Jewish Child by Rabbi Chaim Donin, Positive Parenting by Rabbi Abraham Twerski.
Va'etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11
Moshe pleads with God to enter the Holy Land, but is turned down. (Remember, God always answers your prayers -- sometimes with a "yes," sometimes with a "no" ... and sometimes with a "not yet".) Moshe commands the Children of Israel not to add or subtract from the words of the Torah and to keep all of the Commandments. He then reminds them that God has no shape or form and that we should not make or worship idols of any kind.
The cities of Bezer, Ramot and Golan are designated as Cities of Refuge east of the Jordan river. Accidental murderers can escape there to avoid revengeful relatives. They then await there until tried.
The Ten Commandments are repeated to the whole Jewish people. Moshe then expounds the Shema, affirming the unity of God, Whom all should love and transmit His commandments to the next generation. A man should wear Tefillin upon the arm and head. All Jews should put a Mezuzah (the scroll is the essential part) upon each doorpost of their home (except the bathroom).
Moshe then relays the Almighty's command not to intermarry "for they will lead your children away from Me" (Deut. 7:3-4).
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from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.
The Torah states:
"You shall love your God with all your heart" (Deut 6:5).
What lesson can we learn from this verse?
"Do His will out of love. One who serves out of love cannot be compared to one who serves out of fear. The one who serves his master out of fear, once (the master) overburdens him, will leave and go his own way" (Rashi).
These words are the single greatest method whereby parents can prevent their children from deviating. Children who obey their parents out of fear, whether it be fear of punishment or of incurring their disapproval, may well react as Rashi says. When they feel that the parental demands of them are excessive, they may rebel or go their own way. Not so if they obey their parents out of love.
Parents' love of their children is innate. Animals, too, care for and nurture their children. Children's love for parents must be earned. If parents act in a way that merits their children's admiration, they receive their love. Such children are likely to avoid doing anything that will distress their parents. Any parent who relies on authority to make his children do his wishes may find himself disillusioned and disappointed when the children do as Rashi says, "leave him and go his own way."
Parents must indeed discipline their children, but should do so in a manner that will not humiliate them and cause them shame. Discipline by intimidation evokes resentment, not love.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 6:04 - Hong Kong 6:34 - Honolulu 6:40
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Don't raise your kids
to have more than you had,
raise them to be more than you were.