Shmini 5769

June 24, 2009

6 min read


Shmini (Leviticus 9-11 )

GOOD MORNING! My father always says that "Free advice is worth what you pay for it." Here is an exception to that rule. It has been said that "being a parent is perhaps the only job where by the time you are trained you are out of the job" - here are some good tips. 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 their 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!

Don't fulfill your child's every request. Deny your children something at least once a day. Life is tough. You want to train your child to deal with difficulties and disappointments - not to expect that every whim and desire will be fulfilled. Unfulfilled expectations are the source of most misery.

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Torah Portion of the Week

Concluding the 7 days of inauguration for the Mishkan (Portable Sanctuary), Aaron, the High Priest, brings sacrifices for himself and the entire nation. Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aaron, bring an incense offering on their own initiative, and are consumed by a heavenly fire (perhaps the only time when someone did something wrong and was immediately hit by "lightning").

The Cohanim are commanded not to serve while intoxicated. The inaugural service is completed. God then specifies the species which are kosher to eat: mammals (those that have cloven hoofs and chew their cud), fish (those with fins and scales), birds (certain non-predators), and certain species of locusts. The portion concludes with the laws of spiritual defilement from contact with the carcasses of certain animals.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Moshe said to Aaron, 'go close to the altar'" (Leviticus 9:7).

Why did Moshe need to tell Aaron to move close to the altar?

Rashi cites Toras Kohanim that Aaron was afraid to go close to the altar out of embarrassment (he felt unworthy of doing the service after his involvement in making the Golden Calf). Moshe then said to him, "Why are you embarrassed? For this reason you were chosen."

Rabbi Yitzhak of Volozhin explains that Aaron's humility about feeling unworthy is exactly the trait which made him worthy for the position of High Priest of the Jewish people. "This is exactly what makes you worthy of being the High Priest," replied Moshe. The attribute of humility is so precious that it is the reason you were chosen to be the High Pries. (footnote to Ruach Chaim 4:1)

When you try to accomplish in spiritual matters as a leader or teacher - or as a parent - you might say to yourself, "I realize how little I know. I am aware of my faults. How can I possibly serve in this position?" As long as you are sincere in your efforts and are aware of your deficiencies, your humility is exactly the trait that makes you fit for the job. A person with true humility will learn from others, he will ask questions when he has doubts, and will be open to criticism. Never allow humility to stop you from worthy accomplishments.

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Two important things to teach a child:
to do and to do without.
--  Marcelene Cox

With Deep Appreciation to

Daniel & Lillian Kamis

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

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