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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

A parenting guide for the perplexed

By Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Most humor contains a touch of cruelty. After all, watching someone slipping on a banana peel is watching someone getting hurt. I always liked the joke about the grandfather who says to his grandson, "You know, son, I'm eighty-three today and my memory is just as good as when I was your age, touch wood!" The grandfather knocks twice on the table and then looks up, startled, and says, "Come in!"

Since last month, when I had to find an assisted-living facility for my eighty-six-year-old mother, that joke doesn't seem so funny anymore.

I love my mum. Perhaps because I am an only child I am especially close to her. And there are so many memories that I can retrieve so very easily, of her holding my hand when we visited the dentist or drying away tears when I was hurt or scared. And now, when I take her for walks, she has to hold my hand, and she's as vulnerable and reliant on me as I was on her all those years ago.

Our Sages point out that the tablets that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai had the Ten Commandments split into two distinct categories (Mechilta, Exodus 20:13). On the first side were our obligations to the Almighty — don't have other gods, don't take His Name in vain, etc. The second five deal with people's relationships and their obligations to each other — don't steal, don't kill, don't commit adultery. It is among the first five, among those commandments, where you find "Honor your father and your mother."

It's on the wrong side, in the wrong column!

Our sages say the reason it appears there is because ultimately the one who put you with those two human beings — your mother and father — was none other than the Almighty. He matched you to them and, just as importantly, them to you.

When a young wife first informs her husband of the most exciting piece of news he will ever hear, that he is going to become a father, he is elated. The young couple can look forward to months of anticipation and planning, from the name they are going to give this new child to what sort of stroller would be the best. One thing that is not likely to change in any significant way is their personalities. Who they were before the news of the new arrival was confirmed is who they'll be after the baby is delivered. Both as individuals and as a couple, they possess many strengths. They have been born with character traits that make them shine: kindness, perhaps, generosity, and many others, too. And, like every other human being, there will also be deficiencies in those same personalities and characters. They may be a little selfish or insecure; they may be indecisive or angry. The combination of factors and traits that made them who they were before the baby was born will be identical after their baby is born. Parenthood does not bestow perfection.


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That will be the baby's first challenge, the first challenge any human being faces — learning to deal with the human beings who brought him into the world. The child will have to learn from both their strengths and their weaknesses.

In just a few words, King Solomon encapsulated the most essential ingredients for successful child-rearing: "Chanoch l'na'ar al pi darko — Educate your child according to his or her own way" (Proverbs 22:6). There is much to say on those few words.

All parents have ideas and aspirations for their children. They feel (often correctly) that they know what is best for the child. Ultimately they will apply their own upbringing and background as their point of reference. Most will want their children to "follow in their footsteps."

But their upbringing might well be out of date, no longer appropriate to the world in which their children are growing up.

How a mom and dad were brought up may have worked well for their personalities and those of their parents, but it may not work at all for their children.

I knew of two brothers who were once asked by an uncle what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their father was a very strong personality and beamed when his oldest son replied that he had several ambitions. He wished to become a stockbroker. Later he went on to become a stockbroker. He wished to develop a talent in public speaking, and he went on to do exactly that. He also aspired to be a rabbi, and eventually he became a rabbi, too.

The uncle turned to the younger brother and said, "And you, David, what do you want to be when you grow up?" The boy did not share his older brother's confidence or determination. He replied hesitantly, "I think I want to become an actor." The father smiled benignly, leaned forward, and said, "David...it's pronounced doctor!"

Although I agree with the father that medicine is an infinitely better choice than the one his son contemplated, the father's approach might need refining according to King Solomon's prescription.

Children have to make their own way, and that way is unlikely to be a replica of their parents' way. It won't necessarily conform to the outcome they would have chosen for their child.

I wanted all my sons to be rabbis. One is a rabbi. Another is a successful photographer, one is an architect, and one works in computers. All are devoted Torah Jews.

Isaac chose a different path in Torah from his father, Abraham. Jacob chose a different path in Torah from his father, Isaac.

The Torah has all the advice necessary for getting it right when it comes to raising children. The account in this week's Torah reading, Vayeishev , illustrates the likely outcome of showing favoritism to one child above another.

Jacob famously made Joseph a "kesones passim." The world translates this as a "coat of many colors." The foremost commentator, Rashi, explains that passim means "fine wool." The Alshich HaKadosh says that the meaning of kesones becomes apparent from a careful reading of the verse that reports his brothers removing it from him after they took him from the pit in which he had been imprisoned: They took the coat, the fine woolen coat, from upon him. (Genesis 37:23)

A coat does not sit on a person. Nor does a jacket or a shirt. The only garment that a person wears that is literally "on" him is an undershirt.

So the thing that caused all the conflict among the founders of the Jewish nation was a woolly undershirt!

It almost seems laughable. It was hardly the most extravagant or luxurious gift, yet it was enough to spark jealousy and hatred among the brothers. The lesson is that parents must never show favoritism even if (which is very likely) they have a favorite.

I know someone who was sitting shivah (mourning) with his six brothers for their father. I knew the father well; he was a pious Jew and one of Rabbi Dessler's disciples.

His life story is worthy of a book in its own right; it was filled with astonishing drama and adventure (he had worked for the British Intelligence Agency MI5 during the Second World War). In the course of the week, when the sons were reminiscing about their father, they came to an amazing discovery. Each one had believed themselves to be their father's favorite!

That was a brilliant parent indeed. He had made the effort, despite an astonishingly full and hectic life, to make each son think that he was getting special treatment.

Some parents, like this father, are geniuses at child-rearing. The frequency of genius, however, is by definition very rare. Some are very poor and obviously most parents (like me) are average — sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong, too. And most of us are quite convinced that we could do a much better job at being a parent than our parents...until we actually become parents, that is.

I recall one of my sons coming to see me while he was experiencing a major crisis. The wing had broken off his toy airplane.

He opened my door when I was reading a letter I had just received from my bank manager. He required me to put money into my account, and I did not know how I would find the sum demanded.

My son started to explain the disaster that had just occurred in his life and held up his stricken toy to bring home the scale of the crisis. I shouted at him in exasperation to leave me alone. "Can't you see I am busy?" As soon he left the room I felt guilty and full of remorse.

Immediately I recalled an almost identical event that had occurred in my own boyhood. The arm had come off my teddy bear. I rushed to my father to seek immediate first aid. He, too, shouted at me to leave him alone, and I distinctly remember leaving his room thinking what a disappointment he was as a parent.

Of course, as a little boy I had no way of estimating whether my father was struggling with a letter from his bank manager or with some other worry that had left him at the end of his tether.

We all think we could make better parents than our own.

One of the things that the prophet Elijah is supposed to achieve when he reveals himself at the dawn of the messianic age is "to restore the hearts of the fathers to their sons and the hearts of the sons to their fathers" (Malachi 3:24). The much-discussed generation gap is hardly a new phenomenon. Apparently it will only end through supernatural intervention. It can be minimized before that, though, with some simple steps.

A wise rabbi once asked what the Torah means when it says that the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai and "saw the sounds" (Exodus 20:15). How do you see a sound?

He provided a brilliant and novel answer. You may manage to send you son or daughter to the very best school to acquire the very best education possible. But when your child returns home at the end of the day and does not "see the sounds" he has heard in school, the entire educational endeavor will be in jeopardy.

Children spot hypocrisy and dual standards a million miles away, and it aggressively corrodes the respect and admiration upon which the ideal parent-child relationship is built and sustained. That is one step to bridging the generation gap.

Second, it is essential to remember that as much as you were chosen for them, they were chosen for you. No one was better suited to look after them. For most of us, that truth might seem very remote from the reality of our day-to-day interactions and struggles with our children and teenagers. It is then that you have to seek allies.

Long before psychotherapy and counseling became major industries, generations of Jews have known that it is not a sign of failure to admit that you need a fresh pair of eyes to look at a problem that is leaving you staring into an impenetrable mist. It takes more than parents to successfully raise a child. You need the support and help of teachers and family as well as other parents and grandparents.

When I go to visit my mother in her care home, I often think back to my childhood. Sometimes I ask myself, "Was my mum a genius at raising me?" The answer is a very definite no. She was just average, but now that she holds my hand and looks to me to look after her, I so clearly recall the thousands of times she looked after me and helped me in countless ways and I'm grateful to Hashem because He gave her to me.

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JWR contributor Rabbi YY Rubinstein is a world renowned educator, lecturer, radio broadcaster, and seasoned author whose articles have appeared in Hamodia and other periodicals. His newest book, That's Life: Torah Wisdom and Wit to Live By, published by Targum Press, is available at Jewish bookstores and at www.targum.com .


Previously:


Knowing when not to help

© 2011, Rabbi Y. Y. Rubinstein