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ב"ה

Parsha Parenting

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!

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