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Parsha Parenting

Parsha Parenting

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Vaeschanon

Va’eschanon

In the heavens above and the earth below (4:39)

Surely we know that the heavens are above us and that the earth is below our feet; why couldn't the Torah, whose every word and letter is measured, simply say "in the heavens and the earth"? But here is a lesson in how we are to approach the heavenly and earthly aspects of our own lives. In all that pertains to the heavens, to our spiritual achievements, we must look upwards, to those greater than ourselves, and strive to emulate them. But as regards our earth, our material possessions and attainments, we must look below us, to those who have less than we do, and be grateful for what we have. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Human beings have a natural tendency to look at others and compare our own lives with theirs. This week’s Parsha is giving us the correct context for this, as the Rebbe explains. If this is our responsibility as Jews, how much more does it magnify as parents who set an example for our children in our attitudes. If we train ourselves to only look at the material possessions of those who have less than we do, and feel grateful and giving… what a gift this will be for our children as we raise them in a world and society whose values reflect dollar signs and immorality.

This Shabbos, speak with your children about spiritual achievements of others, “Wow! Isn’t it special how ____ helps our elderly neighbor? I hope we can help her more this week, too.” Work with your children to recognize the needs of those who have less than you… “we are so lucky we have a backyard to play in! Let’s invite our friends ____ to come and play because they don’t have a backyard…”

May we merit a time when true G-dly values will influence all of mankind with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Devarim

Devarim

Bring forth wise and understanding men, known among your tribes, and I will place them at your head (1:13)

The word va'asimaim ("and I will place them") is written in the Torah lacking the letter Yud, so that the word can also be read as va'ashamam, "and their guilt." This comes to teach us that the faults of a generation rest with its heads and leaders. (Talmud; Rashi)

When someone comes to a Rebbe and seeks his counsel and assistance in dealing with a spiritual malady, the Rebbe must first find the same blemish, if only in the most subtle of forms, in his own soul; only then can the Rebbe help him to refine and perfect his self and character. This is the deeper significance of that which our sages have said, "the faults of a generation rest with its heads and leaders". (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch)

As parents, we are the guiding light for our children and their first “leaders”. When we set out to help our children improve or overcome negative habits, we must go through the above process of self-reflection and find some similar aspect of refinement in our own character.

This Shabbos, think about something you wish you can help your child improve in. Look inside and first find something similar within to change. Only then will you be successful in accomplishing the improvement in your child.

May this empathetic discipline bring about Hashem’s empathy for the improvement of His children with the rebuilding of the third Bais Hamikdash!

Matos/Massei

Matos

"Avenge the vengeance of the children of Israel upon the Midianites…” (Bamidbar 31:2)

The double terminology indicates that before the nation of Midian can be defeated, its supernal "minister", which embodies the spiritual essence of Midian, must be vanquished. (Keli Chemda)

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe is commanded to wage war against the Midianites… and its supernal angel, as explained above. What is Midian’s spiritual essence, which is embodied in its angel? The Rebbe Rashab explains that since the Hebrew word for strife in rooted in the word “Midian”; the evil essence of Midian is divisiveness and hatred amongst people. The root of all strife is selfishness and ego, the inability to see the other. Before the Jewish People could enter the land, all traces of ego and hatred amongst themselves had to be removed.

As parents, one of the hardest things to do is to objectively see our children and their social situations. The most respectful and open adult could quickly become judgmental and accusing when their child is hurt! Some natural negative feelings such as the following come very quickly... No child at the park has any right to grab MY son’s shovel! What kind of horrible parenting… How does she let HER kids talk like THAT? I wonder why its so hard for HIS child to share…

When we stop and think for a moment, none of these reactions are actually HELPING our child; if anything, they are bringing even MORE negativity to the situation. In order to attain true happiness, confidence and peace (similar to entering the Land), we must first remove all negative feelings about others. How would you react if it was your sister’s child? Probably by trying to help figure out the situation instead of gossiping from afar… Every fellow Jew is our brother and sister! May our Unity bring about the true Entering of the Land—the coming of Moshiach Now!

Masei

These are the journeys of the children of Israel going out of the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt)... (33:1)

We read in the Torah this week about the many travels and encampments which the Jewish People experienced on their way to the Holy Land. The first journey was the exodus from Egypt, followed by the subsequent travels from one place to the next in the desert. Why, then, are ALL of the travels considered “leaving Egypt” as stated in the above verse?

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe, explains the spiritual significance of leaving Egypt, which occurs in every Jew’s life every day. The word “Mitzraim” (Egypt) also means “narrowness” and “limitations”. Being redeemed from Egypt happens when we go beyond what we feel is stopping us from reaching our spiritual goals, allowing the infinite G-dly power of our souls to express itself. A Jew is expected to constantly grow. When we reach one goal, we are given strength to move right to the next goal. And each move is considered LEAVING EGYPT! Becoming comfortable after growing, without pushing ourselves to the next level... brings us right back to the “narrowness” and “limitations” of Egypt.

As parents, many challenges and personal “limitations” can seem to hold us back from being the best we can be. So we work on one thing at a time, be in our patience, organization, etc. There is always something to work on! And we must always keep in mind: when we reflect on “leaving Egypt” - finally reaching one goal, it must always be with the resolution to “leave Egypt” once again by setting a new goal.

This Shabbos, let’s think about the successes of the past week—the special times we carved out for each child, the mitzvos we did together, the times we held back from raising our voices… and right away set a new and higher goal for next week. May we experience the personal and global redemption from “Egypt” with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Pinchas

Pinchas

You shall observe to offer it to Me in its appointed time, two each day, a regular offering (28:2-3) The "appointed time" of the regular offerings is every day. (Rashi)

The word “moed—appointed time” is usually used in reference to special occasions, such as Holidays and Rosh Chodesh. The Rebbe explains that its usage here, for daily offerings, is here to teach us a powerful lesson.

As parents, and in our own lives there also exists this division: there are the "routine" things, such as the breaths we take each minute and the bedtime routine; and there are the "special" things we do once in a while or once in a lifetime with our children. Both are crucial to a fulfilling and satisfying life. The offerings--and their present-day substitute, prayer--include both temiddin and mussafin, to teach us that our relationship with G-d should likewise embrace the surety of the routine on the one hand, and the excitement of the occasional on the other.

In the above verse, the Torah uses the term mo'ed, "appointed time"-- to urge us to transcend these categorizations and experience a sense of specialty and occasion also in the "regular" rhythms of life. As Rashi comments on the verse, "The 'appointed time' of the regular offerings is every day."

This Shabbos, consider some of the joyous special occasions you share as a family on Yom Tov and think about how you can incorporate that same excitement into a daily routine, such as washing Netilat Yadaim or saying a bracha. The joy and fun associated with mitzvas is a crucial component in raising our future Jewish leaders.

May we merit to experience a very special occasion… the re-uniting of all the Jewish people in the Third Bet Hamikdash now!

Shlach

Shelach

It is a land that consumes its inhabitants (13:32)

The Hebrew word for "its inhabitants" in this verse, yoshvehah, literally means "its settlers".

Thus Chassidic master Rabbi Yitzchak of Varka explained the deeper significance of this statement: the Holy Land does not tolerate those who settle down, content with their achievements…

The growth of children is miraculously rapid, their brains are constantly developing and their skills and sizes change very often. Often, when we watch videos of our children from only a few months back, we are shocked at how different they are now. Or, when we see young relatives whom we have not seen for what seems like only a short period of time, we are amazed at how much they’ve changed and grown!

As parents, we must never be satisfied with our own achievements. The same growth and movement from level to level which is apparent in our children must take place within our own thoughts, speech and action. What is good enough for today, must be a little bit better tomorrow. A healthy parent is a parent who is growing together with his/her child. In Judaism, there is no such idea as “settling” with one level; that is detrimental, as we see in this week’s Parsha.

This Shabbos, reflect on the past week and your accomplishments as a parent. Set new goals for the coming week a step higher, elevating yourself, your environment and your family.

May we merit to truly settle in Eretz Yiroel in a positive sense with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Beha'aloscha

Beha’aloscha

This Chodesh (new moon, month) shall be to you the head of months; it shall be for you the first of the months of the year (12:2)

Time is the first creation (see Sforno on Genesis 1:1); thus, the sanctification of time is the first mitzvah commanded to Israel.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

“If only there were more hours in a day… If only we had the time to…”

TIME is a very precious creation of Hashem… it is actually the first creation! And just as with any other created thing, when used for productive and holy purposes, it increases. Seconds, minutes, hours and days seem to be scientifically measured and counted. Yet, we have all experienced success and failure with time. On one day, a task or errand can take five minutes; on another, the same activity can take an hour. We are granted success with our time when we use it wisely.

As parents, we can get caught up with the many priorities a day’s challenges present. But we must constantly be aware of an essential need of every child: OUR TIME. Giving a child quality time is one of the biggest investments you can make in the relationship with your child. Quality time is mutually enjoyable and creates a space for very important interactions. When you set a consistent routine of spending at least ten minutes of one on one time for each child daily (which both parent and child are enjoying), you are indeed elevating the creation of time and building the foundation for a crucial relationship.

This Shabbos, look for ways to create special times within the day for quality interactions with each child. You will be surprised at how many opportunities there are within your busy daily routine to incorporate this…

May we merit a time when we will once again be able to sanctify the new moon in the Bais Hamikdash in Yerushalayim!

Naso

Naso

May G-d bless you and keep you (6:24)

With G-d's blessing comes His protection of the blessing. A mortal king has a servant in Syria while he himself lives in Rome. The king sends for him. He sets out and comes to him. He gives him a hundred pounds of gold. He packs it up and sets out on his journey. Robbers fall upon him and take away all that he had given him and all that he had with him... But when G-d blesses one with riches, He also guards them from robbers. (Midrash Rabbah)

As parents, we are the recipients of G-d’s greatest treasure—precious Jewish children. As we know and have experienced, the great responsibility of caring for and raising our young ones can be very daunting and can lead us to worry or sometimes fear. But Hashem promises us in this week’s parsha that His blessings come as a package deal together with His protection. Of course we have to do our part, but we be must be assured that Hashem is constantly protecting our blessings. In fact, the Rebbe teaches us that the act of focusing on positive, non-worrisome, non-fearful thoughts causes Hashem’s goodness to shine in an open, revealed and tangible manner. This is based on the Tzemach Tzedek’s saying, “think good and it will be good.”

This Shabbos, be aware of any worries you have about your children and their future. Focus on what you are doing right now and what you plan to do to create positive outcomes and then erase any trace of worry or fear from your mind. Verbalize your complete faith in Hashem’s protection, “I am so happy because I know that Hashem is going to help you grow up and be so healthy and strong!” May we merit Hashem’s ultimate blessings and protection with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Bamidbar

Bamidbar

Raise the head of all the congregation of the children of Israel... by the number of names (Bamidbar 1:2)

A census expresses two paradoxical truths. On the one hand, it implies that each individual is significant. On the other hand, a head-count is the ultimate equalizer: each member of the community, from the greatest to the lowliest, counts for no less and no more than "one." G-d repeatedly commands Moses to count the Jewish people to emphasize both their individual worth--the fact that no single person's contribution is dispensable--as well as their inherent equality. (The Chassidic Masters)

As parents, we are given the opportunity to highlight the unique contributions each one of our children make to the family. Depending on the personality of each child, some are more naturally recognized for specific qualities while it might take extra effort on our part to uncover others’. With the counting in this week’s Parshah we are refocused to believe in the vital and indispensable gift which every Jew possesses. Together with that is the awareness that in our highest essence, we are all equally G-dly. One individual’s virtues does not make their essence any greater than another’s.

This Shabbos, verbally acknowledge something special about your child which you might have overlooked lately. Appreciate the value of that specific characteristic, and how it makes your family beautiful. “Every time you smile at the baby, it teaches him how to smile! Thank you!”… “I appreciate how you remember to clear your place at the table! You are helping to make our home into a Sanctuary for Hashem.” Every child has something else which can be underlined, and we must be aware that each one of those are equally special.

May we merit a time when our G-dly essence will be openly revealed with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Behar-Bechukosai

Behar

Lag Ba’omer, the 33rd day of the Omer, is a day of great joy and celebration. It is the birthday of Jewish Mysticism., for on this day many years ago, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed the deepest secrets of the Torah before passing away.

One of the ways which Lag BaOmer is celebrated is by taking the children to the fields to play, and  there is a time old tradition of using bows and arrows. The Rebbe explains the symbolism of the bows and arrows to represent the power of inwardness. When facing a challenge, the first step in overcoming it is to turn inside to our essence. The inventor of this device first had to grasp the paradox that the deadly arrow must be pulled back toward one's own heart in order to strike the heart of the opponent, and that the more it is drawn toward oneself, the more distant an adversary it can reach.

This Shabbos, look back at your week and at the opportunities you wished you would have taken to spend more time with your children and spiritual growth. Plan ahead for the coming week to invest a few more minutes in your foundational priorities and pray to Hashem that you will see the success with time that will come. In order to make this happen, discuss your plans with your children—they will remind you! “I was thinking of riding our bikes together after school on Monday to visit Grandma…”

May we experience the ultimate promise of Hashem’s brachos with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Bechukosai

And if you will say… what will we eat in the seventh year?... Hashem will command His blessings and there will be plenty (Vayikra)

The mitzvah of Shemittah is given to us in this week’s parsha—the mitzvah to rest the land every Seventh year and to occupy our days with only Torah and good deeds, as the Sabbatical. Hashem reassures us clearly not to fret about having enough to eat, although logically there does not seem to be a natural way of having enough.

We learn a very basic tenet of belief from the above encouragement and command. When we set ourselves to fulfill the will of Hashem with joy, we are promised that everything will be taken care of in a tangible manner. At times, it is hard to stay focused on important priorities when it seems that there is “hardly enough time for anything!” Yet, ultimately, Hashem is the one who grants us true success with our time!

This Shabbos, look back at your week and at the opportunities you wished you would have taken to spend more time with your children and spiritual growth. Plan ahead for the coming week to invest a few more minutes in your foundational priorities and pray to Hashem that you will see the success with time that will come. In order to make this happen, discuss your plans with your children—they will remind you! “I was thinking of riding our bikes together after school on Monday to visit Grandma…”

May we experience the ultimate promise of Hashem’s brachos with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Parshas Emor

Emor

Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and say to them... (Leviticus 21:1) "Speak" and "say" -- enjoin the elders regarding the youngsters.  (Talmud; Rashi)

The above dictum, which constitutes a primary biblical source for the concept of education, also offers insight into the nature of education. The word used by the Talmud and Rashi -- lehazhir, "to enjoin" -- also means "to shine." Hence the phrase "to enjoin the elders regarding the youngsters" also translates "to illuminate the elders regarding the youngsters." Education is not only an elder teaching a youngster; it is also an illumination for the educator. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Life is a journey of education for every human being. Our "yesterday" is the child and "tomorrow" a more mature adult. In youngsters though, the need is so much more apparent and the results are so rewarding and obvious. When guiding and educating our children properly, we have the privilege of being illuminated ourselves in the process. How many times did you become aware of your own inner struggles when training a child how to overcome theirs? How many times did you appreciate something special about the world around you because of the curiosity of your own child?

This Shabbos, thank Hashem for allowing you to be the one specifically chosen to raise and "enjoin" your child/ren. Reflect on the growth and illumination you have gained in the process, and allow that to motivate further positive action in the realm of education. Never underestimate the power of a prayer said aloud in front of your children, "Thank you, Hashem for giving me such an important job to help my child/ren be their best!"

May we enjoy the ultimate illumination of our souls with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Achrei Mos-Kedoshim

Achrei-Mos

You shall not go about as a talebearer (19:16)

A man once came to see Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch and proceeded to portray himself as a villain of the worst sort. After describing at length his moral and spiritual deficiencies, he begged the Rebbe to help him overcome his evil character.

"Surely,'' said the Rebbe, "you know how grave is the sin of lashon harah, speaking ill of a human being. Nowhere, to my knowledge, does it say that it is permissible to speak lashon harah about oneself."

At times, children develop a habit of speaking negatively about themselves, particularly about their skills. It is natural for a child to compare him/herself with peers and this can lead to feelings of failure. As parents, it is our job to encourage a healthy balance between striving for excellence and self-critique. In the above story, the Previous Rebbe explains that lashan hara applies to one’s self as well! 

This Shabbos, redirect negative self-expression to reflect the desire to grow. Instead of saying, “I’m so bad at the monkey bars! I’m never going to be so fast like my sister…” Encourage your child to use words like, “I could be so much better at the monkey bars. Can you help me try?” When describing one’s own skills as a parent, we must also take caution in the words we use… expressions like, “I’m so bad at handling the fighting…” or “I can never get them to eat vegetables!” is lashan hara and stunts our growth.

May we merit to channel all of our words for positive action, bringing Moshiach Now!

Kedoshim

"If he is poor... He should take one male lamb, as a guilt-offering... On the Eighth day of his ritual purification..." (Vayikra 14:21-23)

The fact that a Jew can achieve atonement on behalf of another teaches us that the Jewish people are truly one "body" who need to feel each other's pain and ease each other's suffering. A person should feel that another Jew's problem is his own problem.
- The Rebbe

The spiritual disease of Tzara'as described in this week's Parsha and its method of atonement teach us the above powerful lesson. It's not enough to want to help another Jew in need, we must feel that their problem is truly our problem.

This Shabbos, encourage your children to uncover this feeling for one another. "Oh, the baby has a tummy ache! Ouch... That makes my tummy hurt... What can we do to make him feel more comfortable? What would you need if your tummy hurts?"

May this Ahavas Yisroel uncover Hashem's ultimate mercy and bring Moshiach! 

Tazria-Metzora

Tazria

“He should be brought to Aharon the Priest” (Vayikra 13:2)

The only person who can pronounce a fellow Jew “impure” due to the tza’raas (leprosy) is  a Kohen. The Rebbe explains that Kohanim are people of inherent kindness who bless the Jewish People with love. When it comes to something so intense as declaring a person as a “Metzorah” - one who has leprosy, which requiresa total isolation from the rest of the nation, it is crucial that this judgement be given over only with obvious love.

As parents, we are responsible to disciple and guide our children, motivating them to do what is right. When it comes to stopping negativity through firmness and punishment, it must be done out of total love—the love of a Kohen. This is a sure way to come to our goal of not only stopping negative behavior, but motivating a true desire within the child to be their best.

This Shabbos, stop for a moment before disciplining and focus on how much you love your child and on your ultimate goal of motivating their desire to be the best they can be! The Rebbes have taught that a glare from eye-to-eye of complete love can be enough to conjure the desire in a child to do only good.

May this Ahavas Yisroel uncover Hashem's ultimate mercy and bring Moshiach!

Metzora

"If he is poor... He should take one male lamb, as a guilt-offering... On the Eighth day of his ritual purification..." (Vayikra 14:21-23)

The fact that a Jew can achieve atonement on behalf of another teaches us that the Jewish people are truly one "body" who need to feel each other's pain and ease each other's suffering. A person should feel that another Jew's problem is his own problem.
- The Rebbe

The spiritual disease of Tzara'as described in this week's Parsha and its method of atonement teach us the above powerful lesson. It's not enough to want to help another Jew in need, we must feel that their problem is truly our problem.

This Shabbos, encourage your children to uncover this feeling for one another. "Oh, the baby has a tummy ache! Ouch... That makes my tummy hurt... What can we do to make him feel more comfortable? What would you need if your tummy hurts?"

May this Ahavas Yisroel uncover Hashem's ultimate mercy and bring Moshiach! 

Shmini

These shall you eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales (11:9)

All fish that have scales also have fins (and are thus kosher). But there are fish that have fins but do not have scales, and are thus impure. If so, the Torah could have written only "scales," without having to also write "fins"? ... Said Rabbi Abahu, and so it was learned in the study house of Rabbi Yishmael: This is so that "Torah be increased and made great" (Isaiah 42:21). (Talmud, Niddah 51b)

The Rebbe explains the fins and scales of a kosher fish to represent two aspects of Torah learning. The fins represent the talents and capabilities which one uses to propel forward in his success. The scales are the “armor” - the constant awareness of Hashem’s Presence—the Yiras Shomayim. Both are very important, but the above teaching portrays the importance of Fear of Heaven—scales, which will always deem a fish kosher.As parents, we each possess a strong desire to develop our children’s talents and capabilities. Indeed, these will propel them forward for success! But we must remember the importance of imparting the awareness of Hashem. When one has a strong sense of Yiras Shomayim, their talents will naturally blossom and propel them forward like fins. The desire to do the will of Hashem will motivate the depths of the soul to express itself.

This Shabbos, think about increasing the awareness and awe of Hashem in your family. Telling children stories of Tzaddikim and about miracles of Hashem really fortifies this concept. “Hashem is always with us! And He knows what is on our minds and hearts—so let’s make Him proud!” May we experience a time of true safety and peace with the coming of Moshiach Now!

Tzav

And the fire upon the Altar shall be kept burning in it... and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning (6:5)

Although a fire descended from heaven upon the Altar, it is a mitzvah to add to it a humanly produced fire. (Talmud, Eruvin 63a)This is a rule that applies to all areas of life: the gifts of life are bestowed upon us from Above, yet it is G-d's desire that we add to them the product of our own initiative. (The Chassidic Masters)

As parents, we constantly work towards the balance of helping our children to be independent, and of giving them the loving support and guidance which they need in order to learn and grow. The example of the fire on the Mizbeach gives us a wonderful insight into our important task. Hashem grants us talents, abilities and capabilities. What He wants us to do is add our own initiative and passion into what we have already as a gift. When we know our child is capable of doing something on their own, we must acknowledge the ability that they have and then lovingly set the expectation for them to accomplish. In this way, we create the context for them to achieve and be proud of what they can do!

This Shabbos, encourage your child to take the initiative in an area where you might have been doing something for them. “Boruch Hashem, you are capable of filling up your own cup to drink. Let me see how you can do it on your own!”

May we celebrate this PURIM with MOSHIACH NOW!

Vayikra

No leaven... [shall be present] in any offering of G-d (2:11)

Leaven, which is dough that has fermented and risen, represents self-inflation and pride, and there is nothing more abhorrent to G-d. In the words of the Talmud, "G-d says of the arrogant one, 'He and I cannot dwell together in the world.'"

(The Chassidic Masters)

In this Parsha, the idea of Chametz is mentioned in the above command which teaches us that there must be no chametz in any offering. As we prepare for Pesach, the removal of chametz represents the removal of any trace of arrogance and haughtiness to prepare for the true freedom of Pesach.

Parents must be aware of the distinction between arrogance and self worth. The chametz, the self inflation, is represented by the failure to see beyond one’s own desires and feelings. We must instill the awareness of this negative haughtiness in our children and help them see beyond their own needs and desires.

Positive self worth, on the other hand, gives a child the confidence of who they are, making it easier to accept others and give to others. This is built by praising a child for concrete good choices they have made and for using their talents and strengths to do mitzvos and help others. It is important to point out to our children that the gifts that they have are very valuable; they must recognize what they are good at. Together with that comes he recognition that these gifts are from Hashem Who is expecting us to do only good with them.

This Shabbos, focus on building positive self worth in your child by noticing the good choices that they make. Help them recognize that when we only think about our own needs and desires (chametz), it can lead to not good choices.

By instilling humility and purpose in our children, we give them the space to connect with Hashem and come to a time where we will all see Hashem in an  open and revealed way with the coming of Moshiach Now!

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