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Va'eira 5763

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

by Kalman Packouz

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My father always says that "Free advice is worth what you pay for it." Here is an exception to that rule. It might even help make an exception to the adage mentioned last week that "being a parent is perhaps the only job where by the time you are trained you are out of the job." The following is adapted from Begin Again Now -- Encyclopedia of Strategies for Living by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242).


Two important principles for interacting with your children are:

  1. Know and follow the values you want your children to live with, and
  2. Understand them from their point of view.

Parents should list the main values and principles for living that they want their children to master. Actually, this is good advice for all human beings - it gives insight into what you consider to be of the highest importance.) What specific positive traits do you want your children to have? Make a list for each child.

A parent who is confident with himself and his values, and creates a loving relationship with his children will find that his children will listen to him. When telling your children to do or not to do something, your voice needs to show confidence that you expect your children to listen to what you say. If you sound as if you don't really expect your children to listen to you, they will pick up your non-verbal message and are likely to not listen.

Be clear and specific when telling your children what they should or should not do. Telling a child to "be good" is so vague and general that it is not likely to be effective.

When you see things from your child's point of view, you will be careful to respect his feelings and thoughts. This will give your children a sense of self-respect and respect for others.

Think about how you wanted to be treated when you were a child. Taking individual differences into consideration, act that way towards your children. Keep in mind that no child ever wants to be insulted or ridiculed by his parents; you didn't as a child, neither do your children now.

Don't threaten your children. When you threaten a child, you create unnecessary anxiety and fear. If you make threats that you both know you won't keep, you are teaching them not to take what you say seriously. Threats automatically imply that you think there is a possibility that your children will not listen to you.

Never give your children negative labels. Negative labels create negative self-image which is, highly destructive.

Interacting with your children gives you many opportunities to develop you own character. Some of the essential attributes to focus on are: patience, humility, empathy, compassion, perseverance and resilience. Bring out the best in each child. What more can you do that you are not yet doing?

Don't expect perfection when interacting with your children. Everyone makes mistakes. If you feel that you have made mistakes in the past, begin again now. Be totally committed to creating a loving relationship with each of your children!

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 of 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. The first of each group reduced Egyptians in their own land to the insecurity of strangers, the second of each group robbed them of pride, possessions and a sense of superiority; the third in each group imposed physical suffering.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states in reference to the plague of hail:

"The wheat and spelt were not damaged, for they were late in ripening." (Exodus 9:32)

Rashi, the dean of all commentators, explains that since they were late in ripening, they were soft when the hail struck. Thus, they were able to bend with the wind. This flexibility enabled them to bounce back.

Rabbi Chayim Mordechai Katz, Rosh Hayeshiva of Telz, taught in the name of Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch, that a person needs to be very strong in his principles and ideals - so strong that no power on earth could make him veer from the truth and his values. However, the way to do this is to be like the reed - to be soft and flexible, kind and gentle when talking with others. A person who is obstinate and inflexible might appear stronger, but he is like a cedar tree. In a strong wind, unlike the bending reed, the cedar is either uprooted or broken in two. Softness and gentleness combined with persistence in keeping one's principles is the approach that will be victorious in the end.


"You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to desist from it."
    -- Rabbi Tarfon

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To be loved, be lovable.
--  Ovid

In memory of
Peter and Goldie Doraine
Charles Doraine

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