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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Jacob - Disciplining With Love

I have three kids and when they misbehave I want to discipline them. But sometimes I feel like that would be harming their self-esteem. What does the Torah say about disciplining with love?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Before dying, our forefather Jacob blessed his children. The strengths and weaknesses of the various children define the character of each of the Twelve Tribes. Together, these tribes make up the nation of Israel. In blessing his sons, Jacob also defines the relationship between the future tribes of Israel.

Here is what he tells Shimon and Levi: “Cursed is your anger, because it is strong" (Genesis 49:7). Though your passion for justice is praiseworthy, zeal often overwhelms your judgment.

Jacob doesn't curse Shimon and Levi directly. He curses their anger. It's a parent's responsibility to help children grow by correcting their mistakes. But when you rebuke them be careful to emphasize that you love them. It's just their behavior you don't like.

In proper measure, spice adds flavor. In excess, it mars the dish. Similarly, the influence of zealousness is best diffused. When the Land of Israel is later divided among the tribes, Levi receives no portion. Instead, his tribe is scattered throughout the land – diffusing his influence, like pepper, throughout the nation.

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