Positive Feedback for Mrs. Shira Smiles Class on Mashiach

21 01 2010

I enjoy this website so much!! Thank you for all of your work and dedication! I have been listening to Mrs. Smiles Chumash class on the Seeds of Mashiach: Yehuda and Tamar and it was fascinating and inspiring. I enjoyed it greatly and am looking forward to the next installment!

– M.B.

Check out the first class in this series:


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Bringing Torah to Life: Emet and Sheker part II

19 01 2010

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller
Bringing Torah to Life: Emmet and Sheker part IIThis week, we complete the topic of teaching children about truth, specifically with teenaged children.  Adolescents will lie for social reasons. They want their friends to like them so they will say whatever they want to say. If you still have influence on them, you have to correct them. Essentially, they have to see you as a model of truth. In addition, you need to make a point of validating their efforts at honesty.

Teenagers lie to parents a lot and to teachers somewhat. They may lie to anyone they feel they have to, in order to get what they want. It’s not just a problem but a symptom of an additional problem. They don’t see you as a safe place so they will lie rather than be honest with you. At this age, it’s critical that you show them approval and validation. For example, your daughter lied and took money without permission to buy something you don’t allow her to own. The two issues are the lie and that she couldn’t tell you honestly what she wanted. This can mean that she loves you so much that she couldn’t bear to devastate you, or she dreads consequences, which is more common. Burying your head in the sand will just tell her you’ve given up on her.

Make yourself a safe person to talk to. Your first response should be acceptance. The next question you should ask her should be, “Does this fit in with who you want to be?” Build a relationship so your children feel close to you. Take them out, discuss your issues, and make decisions with them. The more a teenager feels loved and included the more likely she’ll stay where she is and not search for affection somewhere else. Kids will discover that adults treat other adults as potential liars. Teach them the concept of “kabdeihu v’chasdeihu.” Be cordial but cautious, so that they don’t perceive it erroneously as dishonesty.

At some point you will want to teach children the value of thinking honestly. Teach them about judging others favorably. You can look at people in different ways, but the more encompassing way would have to include the person’s higher self. When children hear that, they become far more honest. Their need to demonize people is stilled. Then they can go on to become true ovdei Hashem.





Rosh Chodesh & Women

14 01 2010

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah HellerRosh Chodesh & Women

The passage of time, as evinced by the progression of the sun and moon, is intended to be a sign for us that we are meant to be going somewhere. Every moment has different potential and each holiday brings with it its own unique capac- ity to draw us closer to Hashem. We can easily track time with the sun. Why was the moon created? Hashem’s presence in this world is expressed through the ten sefirot. All people have these ten traits to some degree. In women, the feminine traits are stronger and in men the male traits are stronger. All traits can be misused. When corrupted, malchut is expressed as self worship, instead of being directed towards Hashem. The moon said that two kings could not share one crown. It also felt if it would take the crown for itself, it would become corrupted. So Hashem made it smaller. The Navi tells us that at the end of time the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun. It will be a time when the whole world will reflect Hashem’s malchut. Now the Jewish nation is subservient to foreign nations. When Mashiach comes Hashem’s sovereignty will reign. The sin of chet haegel was caused by corrupted Malchut. The Jewish men wanted to follow Hashem only as long as it would give them immediate reward. However, the women did not waver. They personified middat halmalchut in its perfected form, which is emuna in its highest form. Their reward was Rosh Chodesh. Reward in this world is not final sechar, but a means to achieve more spirituality.  Rosh Chodesh is about sanctifying time. It is about bringing infinity into the finite world.  A woman’s role in marriage is Malchut, selflessness. She is compared to the moon, which reflects the light of the sun. A woman takes what her husband provides and nurtures it into something more. In this way she turns her husband and herself into something more significant than two individuals. Her mission is to guard, preserve, and nurture. On Rosh Chodesh all the spiritual forces of the month come down into our realm. On this day a woman can take Hashem’s gifts, uplift them, and thereby bring sanctity into her world.





How to Handle Chutzpa in Children

13 01 2010

Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on Naaleh.com

Question:
Can you give me guidelines on how to handle chutzpa in my growing children ages ten to thirteen? What should I say if
my otherwise sweet daughter keeps saying to me, “I can do whatever I want!”? Should I force her to comply or teach her negotiation skills?

Answer:

You should teach her negotiation skills. You also have to teach her the laws of Kibud Av Va’em. Preferably your husband should show her these halachot in a sefer so that she sees that the same Hashem who commanded us not to kill or stealcommanded us to treat our parents with respect. She has to see that you and your husband take these laws seriously in your relationship with your own parents. If a child says, “I can do what I want,” you should say, “Can you go to the store and take what you want without paying? Can you get on the bus and not pay the fare because you just feel like riding on the bus?”  Hopefully she will answer no and you should ask her why. She will tell you that if she gets caught, she’llbe in big trouble, and that the Torah forbids it. You have to tell her, “My dear child, the Torah forbids you to behave with chutzpa. And since I care about you, I can’t allow you to continue acting this way, just like I can’t allow you to do anything else that will harm you.”

As children move towards adolescence they need greater autonomy. So while you can’t tolerate chutzpa, you should foster opportunities for success by giving them more responsibilities. Let your child prepare some new salads for Shabbat or allow her to visit a friend without having a specific curfew. Inform her that you trust her to come back early enough to get a good night’s sleep. Convey to your child that you have confidence in her and that you see her as an adult. This should not preclude the fact that she views you as a parent, just as you view your own parents as parents. Teaching your children negotiation skills is good because it is a respectful way of stating your needs in a way that the other person doesn’t lose out. But it has to be presented as a way of fulfilling Kibud Av, not as a way of manipulating a parent into doing what the child wants.





Shovavim: Self Improvement

11 01 2010

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles

Shovavim: Self Improvement

Shovavim is an acronym for the parshiyot that we read during the period between Chanukah and Purim. Rav Nachman Cohen writes that this period is an auspicious time to repent for Adam’s sin with the Eitz Hadaat and his subsequent errant behavior, pegimat habrit, for which mankind suffers until today. Why do we specifically repent now for the sin of Adam?
This period falls after the winter solstice when the days begin to get longer. When Adam sinned, the days began to get shorter and he thought it was because of his sin. When the days began to get longer again, he realized he was not doomed and that his repentance had been accepted. Thus this period is an eit ratzon where one can connect to Hashem.
Working on curbing one’s physical desires and avoiding inappropriate pleasures seems male focused. What is the corollary for women? The Maharal says that the primary praise of a woman is her level of tzniut. Rav Pincus writes that because Adam and Chava did not conduct themselves modestly, the snake desired Chava and devised a plot to make her sin. Therefore, in a sense, the sin of Eitz Hadaat came about through immodesty.
What is modesty? It is a call to concentrate our energies on our inner personality, our spiritual nature, which is deep and hidden within us. We must become attuned to our souls instead of getting caught up in the outer trappings of the physical world. Shovavim is not only a time to work on tzniut but a time of introspection, a time to work on our relationship with Hashem. This entails watching our behavior with the awareness that we are in the presence of Hashem. It is irrelevant what other people think. Life is about walking alone with Hashem. Elevating mitzvot to a higher level by practicing modesty in deed – not talking about the mitzvot you’ve done, is an appropriate goal to work on during Shovavim.
These levels of modesty can be applied equally to men. How do we understand that the major accolade of a woman is her tzniut? Tzniut is to protect. The more valuable something is the more protection it needs. Our soul is our most precious possession. A woman’s job is to protect her soul and the souls of her family. A mother determines her child’s Jewishness. It is within the mother’s womb, rather than in the beit midrash, that the angel teaches the fetus Torah. Whatever the mother exposes herself to has a tremendous effect on her children.
Rav Wolfson explains that during Shovavim we re-experience the parshiyot of the weeks. We ourselves go through slavery and redemption. Ultimate redemption is when we succeed in bringing the secret of Hashem into our tent. Shovavim is feeling Hashem’s presence in our home. It is a time of introspection when we try to positively create harmony and the proper environment within our homes.
Adam named all the animals because he knew their essence. He named himself Adam since Hashem formed him from earth. The Alter of Slabodka explains that we are like the earth, in which there is a constant cycle of planting and harvesting. Human life involves constant effort and growth.
The Netivot Shalom writes that the 42 days of Shovavim are a microcosm of the 42 places the Jews encamped in when they left Egypt. The Baal Shem Tov notes that we go through 42 major experiences in our lives. Shovavim reminds us that life is about moving forward, not standing still. The Torah says about the Jewish nation in the desert, “Vayisahu vayachanu, They traveled and they encamped.” Life is not only about growing and changing but about making time to integrate what we’ve gained into our lives. We also need to recognize that the encampments of life may sometimes be difficult. Moving forward despite challenges and recognizing that Hashem is leading the way, is living life with true emuna the way Hashem meant it to be.





Woman on Bedrest Learns Torah

6 01 2010

Thank you for this wonderful teaching*. I have been put on bedrest and can’t read and located this teaching so I would not have to miss the Parsha this week. It was a true blessing to hear such wonderful Torah insight.

-Darla Deckard, Texas

*Check out the Parsha class by Rabbi Hershel Reichman:





Students are Raving about Rebbetzin Heller’s Chinuch Series

3 01 2010

I just wanted to say THANK YOU SOOO SOOO SOOO much for doing this new series on chinuch with Rebbetzin Heller (Bringing Torah to Life: Deepening our Children’s Jewish Experience).  It’s been truly outstanding.  I’m always excited to hear the next class of the series.  This is really what klal yisroel needs! And nobody else out there seems to be providing such a service.  Thank you -thank you-thank you!! Thanks for doing this and providing this service.  May you have continued hatzlacha!

-Anonymous

Check out the latest Chinuch class by Rebbetzin Heller: