GOOD MORNING! Do you ever wonder about how you are raising your kids -- the example you set for them, the values that you want to inculcate, the balance between directing, control and free will? It has been said that being a parent is the only job where when one finally knows what he's doing, he's out of a job. In truth, I am not sure that parents ever really know what they are doing -- or are ever out of job. The job is constantly evolving.
The role of a parent is to make his child independent -- to nurture the self-confidence, transmit values, encourage self-motivation. We need to do our best to give our children what they need to grow and succeed in life. We won't always be there. Lori Palatnik once said, "Hold their hands so that they can walk, let go so that they can run and cheer so that they can fly!"
The formula is simple in theory: Just give your children love, security, trust, joy in life, gratitude, values, motivation, direction. However, as every parent knows, try as one might, success is often out of our hands. One does his best to be a good example, to control his own anger and passions, and to provide an atmosphere that nurtures the values that one holds dear. Where you choose to live, the school you send your children, after school activity groups, your synagogue and community participation -- all have an important impact on how your children develop.
Education is comprised of learning information and values, understanding how to analyze and apply what one learns, and the development of sound, solid habits. If one develops the habit of brushing and flossing each night, the question of whether one should skip a night is no longer a question; this habit will hopefully reduce cavities and maintain oral health. Likewise, with attitudes for life, one must build good habits which will strengthen belief and outlook.
The Torah is an instruction book for life. The very word "Torah" means "instruction." The Torah is often called "Torat Chaim" meaning "Instructions for life." The purpose of the commandments, the mitzvot, are the means to fulfill God's will which will help us as human beings lead more meaningful, happier lives.
There are two mitzvot, commandments, our Torah heritage directs us to fulfill which help develop joy in life and gratitude as well as trust and security. The first mitzvah is at the very beginning of the day and the second is at the very end of the day. The fulfillment of these are two gifts for a successful life.
Upon opening one's eyes in the morning, a Jew gives thanks for being alive and expresses gratitude to the Almighty by saying the "Modeh Ani" -- "I am thankful before You, Living and Everlasting King, that you have returned to me my soul with compassion. Great is Your faithfulness!" By training oneself -- and one's children -- to say this each morning is instilling an appreciation for life and a gratitude to the Almighty for life itself and what happens to us in life. (Please see Charlie Harary's "Take the Shot" for a profound insight!)
At night, the last mitzvah of the day is to say "Kriat Shema al HaMita" -- Reading of the Shema before going to sleep. At very minimum, one says the Shema -- "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One" -- the first paragraph following the Shema and the blessing "HaMapil." The blessing is one of trust in God and request that He watch over and protect us while we sleep.
While the prayers are usually said in Hebrew, one may say the prayers in English. Most Siddurim, prayer books, have "Modeh Ani" and "Kriat Shema al HaMita" in them. If you are going to purchase a prayer book, I highly recommend the Artscroll Prayer Book available at Jewish bookstores or JudaicaEnterprises.com .
Children are often afraid of the dark and of the unknown of going to sleep. One can appreciate how comforting it is to children to have a nightly ritual of saying the Shema and a prayer to the Almighty to protect them. I explained to my children what the words mean and why we say the Shema. Then each night after brushing their teeth, I would start with the youngest one and hold each child as he or she says the Shema and the blessing. I then gave my child a kiss and for the last time that day would tell them, "I love you!" For me, it was the highlight of my day. For my children ... hopefully, a treasured moment of childhood.
Terumah, Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to donate the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.
The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"Cover (the ark) with a layer of pure gold on the inside and outside and make a gold rim all around its top" (Ex. 24:11).
Why was it necessary to cover the ark with gold on the inside?
The Talmud (Tractate Yoma 72b) comments that from here we see symbolized that a Torah scholar must be pure inside as well as outside to be considered a Talmid Chochom, a Torah scholar. That is, just as the ark which symbolized Torah knowledge had gold on both the inside and the outside, so too a torah scholar is not someone who just speaks wisdom on the outside, but he must also internalize his wisdom and live with it.
There have been many intellectuals throughout the ages who have espoused profound philosophical ideals. They have expressed the most elevated thoughts of universal love for humanity. However, in their own private lives they have been arrogant and cared only for their ideas, but not for the people with whom they actually had to deal with on a daily basis. This is not the Torah concept of a Talmid Chochom, Torah scholar. To be considered a true Torah scholar and not merely someone who carries a lot of book knowledge with him, one must practice the lofty ideals that he speaks about. This has held true for all our revered Torah scholars both in ancient and modern times.
Our lesson: Whenever you speak about lofty thoughts, ask yourself whether you actually follow the principles you speak about. If not, do not stop speaking about those ideals, rather you should elevate your behavior.
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Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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