Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Seeking Moderation
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

  Rated by 1 user   |   Viewed 11390 times since 11/22/06   |   1 Comment
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


Seeking Moderation

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz


We learn from the Torah that effective criticism emphasizes the misdeeds without attaching labels and passing judgment on the person. When Yaakov Avinu criticized the actions of Shimon and Levi, for example, he was careful to direct his tochacha only to their anger. (Arur Apam; Bereshis 49:7, see Rashi and other commentaries). He did not insult them. He directed his criticism toward their actions.

Labeling children can often result in the children internalizing the message, but with quite disastrous consequences.

Several summers ago a young man came to see me. He was very well dressed and driving an expensive car. He sat down and I asked him a casual question, “How are things going at home?” His answer was anything but casual. “You know, Rabbi, I don’t get along with my parents. It’s my father. He’s so different than I am. He is driven, and I am chilled out. He’s up at five in the morning; he works all day and learns Torah at night. Besides that, he’s involved in a hundred tzedakah projects.”

“And, you are…???,” I asked.

“Me? I’m a lazy, good-for-nothing bum.”

That was his self-image. Obviously, he had not arrived at it himself—it was a label that someone, perhaps his father, had inadvertently given to him. And, sadly, it stuck. What had happened?


It is interesting to note that character tendencies, especially in their extreme manifestations, often skip a generation – and for good reason. Please allow me to illustrate:

Take the example of a woman who is meticulously neat at home. She spends inordinate amounts of time tidying and making her home immaculate. Her daughter grows up and says to herself, “Mom has no life. All she does is walk around making beds all day. When I get older and have my own home, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to spend time with my kids. I’m going to have a cup of coffee in the morning. I’ll relax, and if the house isn’t beautiful, we’ll get it cleaned up in time for Shabbos.” So she grows up and has a messy house.

Now, her daughter, growing up in a messy house and going to visit friends who have beautiful, clean homes, says, “I’m not doing this in my home. I’m going to have a clean house.”


The young man whose father was so driven was a perfect example of this pattern. This young man’s father grew up poor, and he made up his mind that he was going to work hard until he achieved his financial goals. His son, on the other hand, grew up in relative wealth. Why did he need to wake up early in the morning? His father, however, was understandably upset and frustrated by his son’s lack of focus. The words he spoke to his son were an outpouring of that frustration, “Wake up already, you lazy, good-for-nothing bum.”

The young man heard it for years while his father was trying to wake him in the morning. Unfortunately, he internalized it to such an extent that he used it when introducing himself to me. His father meant well. He was trying to get a message across; he was trying to teach his son zerizus, “get up and do something with your life.” This is a laudable goal, but the message that got delivered was anything but a positive one.

© 2005 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 1 user    (1 comment)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593