0 Posted by - February 5, 2014 - Parsha, Shemot


Parashat Tezaveh

 fight. Lots of kids, lots of fights. Simple math. It’s confusing for one parent to deal with fighting kids. Who is right and who is wrong? The truth is, it does not make a difference. Judging is a complex task, especially if we are talking about your own children. Which child should be punished, the one who hit or the one who teased? Who is the guilty one? The initiator, who said something mildly degrading or the oversensitive sibling, who snapped back, cutting his foe to shreds?

The first thing I do is listen, as if I am judging. One at a time. This puts things in order; kids need to feel that there is order in the house. The kids who I am judging are not allowed to talk to, or interrupt, each other while court is in process. Each one waits until he is addressed. They must await being asked what the other one did to them, and how it was done. I ask the accused to verify each act, each crime and claim, and to what degree it is true. The exact words that were said need to be repeated in front of the judge. They need to demonstrate, on the big teddy bear, the velocity of the slap, pinch, elbow, kick, or speed of the thrown toy. Then, I don’t judge. I never judge. I just separate them, in an official sounding voice, putting each one in his/her room. I bring them toys to play with, books to read, each one in his own room. A few minutes later, depending how long it takes for things to cool down, I call them out of their rooms and direct them toward something positive and productive to do for 5- 10 min., not allowing them to talk to or look at each other. The next time I turn around, they are playing nicely again. Just separating the two does so much.

Parents also fight. Adult siblings fight. Sometimes in a silent way. At times, that’s worse than the open disagreements. Deep down, siblings suffer from these cold wars at every family get together. Each time they look at the family picture, something seems wrong. Even though it’s just emotional stuff, it can sometimes hold people back from success in life. There is no “official” to act as referee when siblings are, themselves, parents. There is no judge, waiting to listen to each one, allowing each person to state clearly what the other one said or did, verifying it with the accused. There is no arbitrator, clarifying what was meant, etc. Bad feelings live on inside, for days, months and years. Sometimes, till death. The sibling in the fight may not attend the funeral of his/her rival, and, if he/she does, he/she just stands there, frozen, leaning on a walking cane, staring at the grave in confusion. How did this all happen? Sometimes, people don’t even want to get along. But in general, they do. They just don’t know how to.

The first sibling rivalry, between Cain and Hevel, is something that the Torah does not want us to forget. Two brothers were to share the world. Cain took the fruit of the land, its food and non-food produce. And Hevel got the livestock. Sounds like a good split, doesn’t it? Well, not really. Almost impossible to be fair when things are split between siblings. Cain was born with one twin sister, and Hebel was born with two, prettier twin sisters. Each brother was to take his twin sister(s) as his wife; that’s how things went in those days. What about the Jewish Law that the firstborn son gets double portion? Too bad, Cain. Hevel was going to have more children. More children, more power. Simple math.

In Cain’s eyes, his younger brother Hebel was a thief. In Noachide law, a thief is to be punished by death. Hebel’s sheep needed to eat something. “All the grass belongs to me.” But Cain, held this thought in, nice older brother that he was. Till Passover. Passover eve, Adam told his two boys that on this very afternoon, in the future, all G-d’s children will bring a sacrifice. Hebel put his best sheep on the altar. Cain, put some leftover’s from lunch on the altar. Flax seeds, פשתן. G-d sent down the altar flames, which totally consumed Hevel’s sacrifice. Cain’s flax remained in place. Cain looked at his brother, the “tzaddik-thief”, and the accepted offering. Cain’s eyes drifted to his own offering. No fire. Cain burned inside. He said to himself, “Enough forgiving my brother, the thief. Thieves should die.” And you know the end of the story.

Since then, G-d said, no more wool and linen garments, no shaatnez. Don’t put them together. Fights, disagreements and cold wars happen when the two “different” siblings are on the same platform. Wool is Hevel, and linen is Cain. (Pirkei Dr’ Eliezer; Alter from Novardhok) Don’t compare them, trying to see whose sacrifice is better. Parents do this: it kills the children. Sometimes parents put their children into a situation or condition that forms a competitive atmosphere. My Rabbi told me what R’ Y’ Kamenetzky, zt”l, once told him: Shalom does not mean peace, or oneness. Shalom means harmony. The difference between peace and harmony is that in peace, things fit together like a puzzle, making a whole, a unit. In harmony, different things work together in unison. They do not fit together as one; each component is independent. The piano is the piano, and the clarinet is the clarinet. Each has its uniqueness, and the idea of competition in the same orchestra just sounds ridiculous. In harmony, each sound blends with and complements the other. Families where siblings have differences need to respect those differences, not to try to force everyone to share opinions and interests. A successful family does not mean “one”. A successful family is “harmonious”.

There is a rule in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming.) Everyone loves his own self the most. ואהבת לרעך כמוך Love your neighbor as yourself… “As yourself“, because people love themselves the most. This is why people like people who are like them. People whose facial features and style of dress resemble theirs, who are approximately the same age, etc. If you match me, then I must like you, because I love myself. Somewhat subconscious. If you want to build rapport, a connection or bond with someone or with a group of people, just act like a mirror. Mirror their body movements (subtly), mirror their beliefs, mirror their interests. When you bring up the differences between you, rapport will wither. Everyone has differences, but you don’t have to accentuate them. Play them down if you want to get along. It has been said, “It is the things in common that make relationships enjoyable. But it is the little differences that make them interesting.” Opposites attract, only when a common denominator is found. It seems that Cain and Hebel put their possessions, their values, on the altar, trying to see which one was more valuable. And Cain lost, so they both lost. This is what happens when differences are forced together.

If you would like to get along with family members who have a world view other than yours, don’t bring up the differences. Ignore whatever differences you can, to the best of your capability. Try to look for and bring up whatever you do have in common, and you will build rapport. Do not try to make your contrasts the subject of conversation. It’s almost always possible to find a common denominator.

There are two exceptions to the forbidden shaatnez law. On tzitzit strings, and in the kohen’s garments, worn during Temple service. T’chelet, the bluish, greenish dyed linen strings are attached to the wool garment to make tzitzit. And the t’chelet strings were woven into the woolen, priestly garments. Why was there an exception in the Temple and for tzitzit?

The Temple was a place of harmony, a בית עולמים. Harmony between heaven and earth. Harmony between G-d and man. Harmony between heart and soul. It was a blend of Love of G-d and Fear of G-d. Shaatnez is permitted in the Temple and in tzitzit, for there is a common denominator there between the wool and linen. Serving G-d. The wool and linen are not there for warmth, comfort or style. They join for a deeper purpose. And when there is a common denominator, especially when the common denominator is a purpose that transcends self, there is harmony.

People are, generally, not aware of how they are perceived by others, how they stand out, how they are different. If we can identify the points of divergence, and overlook them for at least the times that family members meet, it could enhance harmony, and… in this way… we may just get back our Holy Temple.

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