Posts tagged " Pharaoh "

Free Will and my Children

January 11th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting 2 comments

A Your Mother’s Guidance post by Rebecca Masinter.

An age-old question asks how God can punish Pharaoh with further plagues when God is the one hardening his heart so as not to let the Jewish people go? How can he be punished when he had no choice?  This is a classic question and we’ve all heard various answers.  I’d like to consider one basic answer Maimonides teaches us and its ramifications for mothers.

Maimonides says that in the beginning, of course Pharaoh had free will. In fact, during the first five plagues the Torah doesn’t say Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  Pharaoh hardened his own heart.  It’s only after multiple hardening of his own heart that he moved far enough into evil that God took over the job and began hardening his heart for him.  Pharaoh began with free will, but through his actions evolved into someone who lost his power of choice.

How is this relevant to us? 

Well, on a much smaller scale than Pharaoh, I know that there are actions I  take, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, that can lead me into situations where I have less control over the way I act.  For example, after a sleepless night, after skipping a healthy meal, I sometimes don’t have the wherewithal to respond to tough situations the way I would ideally choose to do so.

If that is how I feel sometimes, how much closer are my children to that state of no free will.  Sometimes when I go to the store late at night and see mothers dragging a screaming toddler around at 10:30 PM, I feel pity for the child who truly has no control over her behavior at that time.  It’s just too late and she’s too tired. She’s lost her free will. 

With some thought we can identify for each of our children what are the factors that lead up to them losing their free will.  I don’t think it’s the same for each person, and certainly some children get to that point of loss of control much more easily than others.  Once we’ve identified what stressors contribute to our children reaching the point of no self-control, we can try to limit those and when they’re unavoidable, build in ways for our child to rest or recoup as early as possible.

One last point that I have found helpful to remember: when a child has lost control, you cannot reason with them, consequences or punishments will often have no effect, and no parenting can effectively take place at that time.  What we can do is provide stability, unwavering love, support, and calmness, while we try to give them time and space to get back in control of themselves.

No Margaritas for Me

November 19th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 10 comments

As the U.S. population ages, many members of the baby boomer group are rejecting the elderly housing paradigm of their parents and grandparents.   An article in  The New York Times describes innovative senior housing in Florida whose name, Latitude Margaritaville, is based on a popular Jimmy Buffett song.  In describing this over 55 housing development designed to resemble a non-stop beach party, the article quotes a University of Iowa anthropologist who says, “We have no shared collective articulation for what later life is for, what the value of living longer is, except not dying…”

I guess that depends on what your definition of “collective” is. The Judeo-Christian tradition has a very clear understanding. While Latitude Margaritaville sounds like a fun place, ancient Jewish wisdom isn’t keen on separating the generations. Listen to this exchange between Moses and Pharaoh.

(Moses relating God’s message) …thus said the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
(Exodus 9:1)

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Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland

January 13th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Have you ever found yourself pursuing a self-destructive course of action as if propelled by some invisible malignant force? Maybe it was an out of control shopping spree you could ill afford. Or perhaps you lost your temper with a child, threatening draconian penalties that you could never enforce. What of the business professional focused on his needless lawsuit who is more concerned with dominating his foe than in the welfare of his company and its people? What demented determination drives us to follow harmful paths?

You might well ask the same question to the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, to name just three of many European countries that have relentlessly increased the number of disaffected young Muslim men within their borders. Despite colossal increases in the rates of muggings and murders, rapes, robberies and riots, not to mention terrorism committed disproportionately by Moslem migrants, the respective governments strenuously cling to the policies that brought their countries to the very edge of calamity. What mad mood suffuses these governments to make them destroy their societies and ignore their citizens’ best interests? (more…)

Mugging or Mayberry

December 9th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

As the rabbi of a fledgling synagogue in Venice, CA, one of my first goals was to build a school. Recognizing that a stable community needs a place to celebrate and pass along its values, Susan and I spent the summer after our marriage recruiting students for an enterprise that, as of yet, had no teachers and recruiting teachers for an enterprise that, as of yet, had no students.

One father’s reaction disturbed us greatly. He conceded that the local public school his six-year-old was slated to attend wasn’t safe. Nonetheless, he told us that he was committed to sending his son there. “I know he will get mugged for his lunch money and he may get roughed up a bit but I want him to live in the real world.” (more…)

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