Posts tagged " family "

How do I raise my son in the ways of the Bible?

August 1st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

I am a Christian who lives in Indonesia. I am a frequent listener of your podcast and blessed to find tremendous wisdom in your teaching. I am keen to learn about the root of my faith from Hebrew Bible, at which I believe, as you believe, as a God-given blueprint for our life.

As a recent father, it is my desire to show my child the way of the Lord. Thus, I have a question; what is the best way to teach Torah to our children (especially toddler to under 12 years of age). What is the best method/technique to convey the narrative to them while at the same time conveying the wisdom/substance (which some stories I find them may not be suitable for children. I want to learn from your perspective as rabbi and Jewish parents on how to impart your wisdom to your children.

Thank you and God bless,

∼ Nugroho H.

Dear Nugroho,

Congratulations on the new blessing and challenge in your life. You are asking a wonderful question. Wouldn’t it be nice if for $99 you could purchase a curriculum that would guarantee that your children will view the Bible the way you do? Of course, no such program exists.  (more…)

Should our son be in the family business?

January 27th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

As the mother of a son and daughter, I greatly enjoyed your podcast of 8/22/15, in which you discussed father-son businesses. My son is currently employed in my husband’s law firm. My son’s background has not been stellar. He flunked out of the first year of a 3rd tier law school and had to take the bar exam 4 times to pass both sections. Consequently, he has been working at the family law firm for 2 years and only able to do anything court related since September 2015. Needless to say he spent much of his time surfing the internet because there wasn’t any work my husband could give him to do besides administrative work which my son felt beneath him to do. 

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Should we speak out?

August 13th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

A friend and her unmarried daughter just named the new born baby ‘Delilah’. We believe that names are important and this namesake is a strange pick. My wife asked me whether she should say anything to this Bible-believing Grandma. Do you have an opinion about this?

∼ Mark

Answer:

Dear Mark,

We certainly do have an opinion and it is one that we often voice to ourselves: When someone does not ask your opinion, you should not give it. While, obviously, there are exceptions to this rule they are fewer and farther between than most of us imagine.

This Bible-believing Grandma must be having a difficult time dealing with her daughter’s out-of-wedlock birth. It sounds from your letter that she will be a full time support network for this new, little one. Her hands will be full and she will need her friends’ embrace over the years to come.

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How can I be respectful to my unbelieving family members?

June 24th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I have two sisters who are causing big dilemmas in raising our 2-1/2 year old daughter. One sister is living with her boyfriend and their new baby and doesn’t attend church. She consistently dresses very provocatively, when she comes to our house.

The other sister is an angry atheist who swears and takes God’s name in vain constantly. She talks freely of getting drunk, premarital sex and other inappropriate topics in front of our daughter and my eight-year-old niece. My practice so far has been to ignore the immodest dress from the one sister, and to say in a hushed tone to the other sister, “Oh, we probably shouldn’t talk about that stuff in front of [the niece]” 

My husband and I are committed Christians and both volunteer in our church regularly. When I was a kid and a high schooler, I erred on the side of being ungracious and judgmental, and in college I tried very hard to change that. Now I fear I’ve swung too far the other way and important boundaries are being crossed. I feel like I’m making huge efforts to be respectful and loving of my sisters while they are disrespectful of me and my family. What would you advise?

Thank you so much for your wisdom!

∼ Emily

Answer:

Dear Emily,

The question you ask hits close to home for so many people. We think you are being astute in recognizing that you leaned too far in one direction when you were younger and that this might have encouraged you to lean too far in the other direction now.

Family relationships are important and we don’t think people should be quick to terminate or minimize them. At the same time, your primary responsibility is to be your daughter’s protector and to maintain the spiritual integrity of your family.

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Do I build my business or live near my grown children?

May 7th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

When my parents were at my current age I look back and see that they stopped life. The pain was too great for them and they retreated. My wife’s parents became so involved in the grandkids that they also eventually became lost and alone as the grandkids moved away.
I want to show my kids something different and here is my dilemma. I can expand my business to other areas and states to increase our finance or I can go to where my kids and granddaughter will be and do business but not expand the business.
 
Thanks for your insight.

∼ Robert F.

Answer:

Dear Robert,
One of the most musical sounds in our memory repertoire is, “Daddy/Mommy, come here. I need you.” We are very blessed; our grown children are kind enough to promote an effective illusion that our involvement in their lives is important to them. We choose to believe them.

Wicked Fun

November 16th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

 

By nature, I am not impulsive, but when my youngest daughter’s college lecture was cancelled last Wednesday and I had no urgent deadlines to meet, we hit the half-price ticket booth in Times Square. A few hours later, we were ensconced in fantastic seats watching the Broadway show, Wicked.

The last Broadway show I can remember seeing was right after my wedding when my husband and I saw Angela Lansbury perform in Sweeney Todd. Though we come to New York relatively frequently, we are usually busy with work and family. Despite the activity’s benign nature, last Wednesday has an aura of illicit, stolen pleasure.

There was a special fillip of fun in enjoying Tamara’s exclusive company. After the show, when we grabbed a bite to eat, Tamara and I had similar reactions. The show was amazing with talented actors and a clever plot. However, most of all, we were both struck by the energy level. Wicked is in its eighth year and many of the actors have repeated this performance thousands of times. Yet, it all seemed fresh and exciting.

That, of course, is one of the things which separates a professional cast from an amateur one. An actor who can’t continually play a role as if it was the first time won’t make it to Broadway. Neither will one who can’t leave personal difficulties, minor illnesses or tiredness at the stage door.

Ideally, isn’t that true for all of us? Whether we are surgeons or secretaries, parents or postal workers, we should demand a level of professionalism for ourselves. I was once at the playground with my children where I noticed the extreme patience and level of fun a young woman was exhibiting with two young children. She pushed them on the swings and wiped noses with such good nature, that it made me feel ashamed of my own, less enthusiastic, playground demeanor.

We struck up a conversation where I commented on her behavior. To this day, I remind myself of her answer. “I am their nanny,” she said. “I am getting paid to be cheerful and involved.” My children weren’t with a nanny, but with me. Surely, my responsibility as their mother and my payment in the form of the relationships I was building were greater than hers. Yet, not reporting to my Boss on a face to face basis made it easier for me to forget that I too needed to take my job seriously.

 Being at the performance of Wicked reminded me of this long-ago encounter. Sometimes time with my children is an unadulterated pleasure, as was last Wednesday. Other times when the phone rings after I want to be asleep, or when they are grouchily recuperating from having their wisdom teeth removed or when being together means hours upon hours of cooking and dishes, the time is less enjoyable. Nonetheless, they are a treasure entrusted to my care and deserve every degree of the best attention and affection possible.

 

Fifty Pounds of Potatoes, Fifteen Dozen Eggs…

April 13th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

 

At the end of the meal, after proclaiming in a loud voice, “Thank you HaShem (God); thank you Grandma,” three year old Eli noticed that everyone at the table was looking at him. He explained to the group, “I like to thank both those guys.”

Which pretty much sums up our Passover. With God’s blessing, we had all our children and grandchildren around the holyday table for the first time in a number of years. While I spent many hours preparing the food for the seventeen to nineteen people at each meal of the eight day celebration (including ten festive meals), it truly was a labor of love.

This is not to say that it also wasn’t a lot of work. The planning started weeks in advance with a lot of unknowns. Would we have a very pregnant daughter at the table or a post-partum one? Or maybe the eagerly awaited family member would arrive during the festivities? Would we have a sparkling new and large kitchen to work in as well as extra bedrooms available or did the east coast winter snowstorms put another daughter’s planned move into a new home behind schedule?

Well, we are still waiting for the baby and about two weeks before Passover it became clear that a tiny kitchen would have to suffice and that we would need to impose on generous neighbors for beds. We rented an extra refrigerator, bought a counter top convection oven and moved the organizing/cleaning/shopping/cooking countdown into high gear.

Is Passover an easy holyday to make? No. But it is hard to think of anything that is worthwhile which doesn’t entail great effort. While this year had its specific complicating factors, other years have featured my own newborns, ovens and refrigerators that conked out, and a variety of other family and technical hurdles to overcome.

Still, while I appreciate the times we have spent Passover at friends or relatives as well as the availability of hotel Passover programs, my favorite years are like this one, when we are blessed enough to have the strength and time to do all the preparations and gather our family around our own table. The “easy” Passovers, when others do the work, can be wonderful, but they always feel a bit “Passover style” to me rather than the real thing. Not only are the weeks of preparation an intrinsic part of the celebration, but while the food may be delicious elsewhere, it doesn’t include those items whose smell and taste trigger the explosion of Passover memory receptors.  And had anyone other than I done the cooking, I would have missed out on my grandson placing me in such illustrious company.

As my mother always said at the holyday’s end each year, “May the same hands that put the Passover dishes away this year take them out again next year.” Amen.

 

Passover and…Sex?

March 16th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

Movie screens suggest that sex is public and everyone’s business.  However, just try criticizing sexual misbehavior and you will be quickly told that sex is private and none of your business.  So, which is it?

 

It’s actually neither, or maybe we should say both.  Sex should be private but it is everybody’s business. 

 

Society rightly cares about what people do in their bedrooms.  Polygamy, promiscuity, incest, homosexuality and adultery have broad social consequences.  It is naïve to believe that, “What people do behind closed doors is only their own business.”  Reality demands that we acknowledge the genuine psychological, emotional, economic and civic consequences of these unions.

 

But nowadays many accept the strange notion that sex is nobody else’s business.  Fortunately, the holiday of Passover reminds us that this is untrue.

 

Exodus chapter 12 informs us that the Seder in Egypt included eating the Passover lamb.  There were rules surrounding that original Biblical Seder which can offer guidance for our times.  Three of these rules were:

 

(i)   Each family gathered to eat its own lamb; 

(ii)  The lamb’s blood was painted on the doorposts of each home;

(iii)  Males participating in that Seder had to be circumcised.

 

Years of slavery in Egypt damaged Jewish family life.  For its very first ritual as a nation, God gathered the Israelites, not into political, tribal, gender, or labor groupings but into individual families. By asserting the bond between husband, wife and children, God was reestablishing the importance of the family as society’s fundamental element. Hence, rule number one.

 

Painting blood onto the front door informed the world that behind that door lived a unique group of people.  Behind that door a man and woman engage in physical intimacy and behind that door they raise the children who, spiritually through adoption or physically through birth, are the fruit of that special union. That bloody door symbolized a boundary between the home of one’s blood family and the rest of society.  It reminds us today that the bonds uniting a family are entirely different from the bonds uniting a labor union or a tennis club.  Thus, rule number two.

 

Finally, being an uncircumcised Jew is incompatible with Passover because God did not take disparate individuals out of Egypt; He took a nation composed of families. All families and all societies thrive when everyone recognizes that sex is everybody’s business. When a baby boy is circumcised, there are two main requirements:  The procedure must be conducted during daylight and preferably in the presence of many people.  Thus every Jewish male knows that in broad daylight before other members of his community, a sign was placed upon his genital organ to remind him that what he does with it will always concern the community.

 

Society flaunts sex publicly while claiming it is private. Yet the truth is that sex is a private act with immensely powerful public impact.  Passover reminds us that how a country treats sex and family impacts every aspect of its existence.  Mishandling this volatile area can jeopardize a nation’s vitality, economy, and culture. The same is true within families.  There is a wise and Biblical way to teach the next generation about sex and family, and many wrong ways.  Families thrive when it is done correctly and are imperiled when it isn’t.  Pretending that sex is nobody’s business can wreak havoc.