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Va'eira(Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Va'eira 5763

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My father always says that "Free advice is worth what you pay for it." Here is an exception to that rule. It might even help make an exception to the adage mentioned last week that "being a parent is perhaps the only job where by the time you are trained you are out of the job." 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 his 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!

Torah Portion of the Week

Here begins the story of the Ten Plagues which God put upon the Egyptians not only to effect the release of the Jewish people from bondage, but to show the world that He is the God of all of creation and history. The first nine plagues are divisible into three groups: (1) the water turning to blood, frogs, lice (2) wild beasts, pestilence/epidemic, boils (3) hail, locust, and darkness.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that these were punishments measure for measure for afflicting the Jewish people with slavery. The first of each group reduced Egyptians in their own land to the insecurity of strangers, the second of each group robbed them of pride, possessions and a sense of superiority; the third in each group imposed physical suffering.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states in reference to the plague of hail:

"The wheat and spelt were not damaged, for they were late in ripening." (Exodus 9:32)

Rashi, the dean of all commentators, explains that since they were late in ripening, they were soft when the hail struck. Thus, they were able to bend with the wind. This flexibility enabled them to bounce back.

Rabbi Chayim Mordechai Katz, Rosh Hayeshiva of Telz, taught in the name of Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch, that a person needs to be very strong in his principles and ideals - so strong that no power on earth could make him veer from the truth and his values. However, the way to do this is to be like the reed - to be soft and flexible, kind and gentle when talking with others. A person who is obstinate and inflexible might appear stronger, but he is like a cedar tree. In a strong wind, unlike the bending reed, the cedar is either uprooted or broken in two. Softness and gentleness combined with persistence in keeping one's principles is the approach that will be victorious in the end.


"You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to desist from it."
    -- Rabbi Tarfon

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In memory of
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Charles Doraine

December 28, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Judy Hazan, January 3, 2003 12:00 AM

Travel to Israel

Tourism in Israel is an economic blood transfusion. Tragically since the intifada, tourism has all but dried up. Israeli hotels, restaurants, attractions and stores are crying out for American and Canadian Jews to respond to the crippling shortage of tourist dollars. Campaigns urging Jews in the Diaspora to visit Israel have fallen on empty pockets. Ensconced as we are in our very comfortable lives here in North America, we have become scared little rabbits - terrified to visit Israel because of the "unstable" situation. When Israel needs us most - not just to show our "solidarity" , but to infuse its economy with lots of tourist dollars, we balk and hide. It's OK for our Israeli brothers and sisters to live with the threat of terror - but it's not safe for us. The fact that Israelis are living, working, educating their children, having babies, buying homes and carrying on despite the random incidents of terror, is very lucky for us. Their bravery is ensuring that Israel continues to exist. Sadly, our cowardice here in the Diaspora is having a devastating effect on the Israeli economy and morale.

It is up to every North American Jew to snap out of this fearful mind set and get tough. The best way to combat terrorism is to not get cowed by it. When we get on a plane and travel to Israel and stay in Israeli hotels and fill up the country with our tourist dollars, we send a very clear message to terrorists. Terror relies on our fear and if we refuse to bow to it, if we use it's power to diffuse it's very purpose, we render it useless.

Personally, if you are Jewish, I think it's blasphemy to spend one cent on vacation travel to anywhere in the world but Israel. Jews who spend money to go to Mexico or Florida or any other vacation spot are literally starving Israel out. If you've got the money to travel, you owe it to Israel to spend it there.

And there's really no reason not to.

Israel offers absolutely everything that a vacationer could possibly want. The prices are akin to anywhere in North America for hotels and car rentals. Restaurants are plentiful. The shopping is fantastic. The beaches will take your breath away. The climate is wonderful all year round. If you want a tropical beach anytime of the year - go to Eilat. It puts Cancun to shame!

As far as cost goes - you'll pay a little more for airfare (we're talking a few hundred dollars here - not thousands!) - but everything else is pretty much the same. The only other inconvenience is the length of the flight, but surely we can sacrifice a few hours longer on a plane for our beloved Israel. It's the least we can do.

Having just returned from a two-week vacation in Israel, I am convinced that there is no better place in the world for a holiday. Far from the idea we have here in North America that Israel is one big gunfight at the OK Corral, I felt completely safe and secure. The only reminder of the intifada is the security checks one goes through when entering any store, restaurant or building. But it's a small inconvenience that soon becomes routine.

We traveled throughout Israel and enjoyed every minute. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem the streets are teeming with life. The indomitable Israeli spirit is palpable, you can feel it in the streets, the markets, everywhere.

Contrast this with a cowering North American Diaspora, terrified to travel to Israel even for a short two week or ten-day stay.

It's time for us to remember who we are as a people. Israel is our country. It is our hope. It is our only protection from cultural and spiritual annihilation. Israel needs us. She needs our dollars. She needs our strength and our courage. Israel needs us to come home.

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