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Letter From Your Teenage Child
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

  Rated by 15 users   |   Viewed 9453 times since 11/22/06   |   43 Comments
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11/22/06

Letter From Your Teenage Child

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Dear Mommy and Daddy:

Imagine how you would feel if you were told that in two years from today, our entire family would need to relocate to a different part of the country. You would certainly be quite concerned – for good reason. Think of all the questions you would have. Here are just a few of them:

  • Where will we live?
  • Will we be able to find jobs in the new location?
  • Will we be prepared for those new positions?
  • Will we make new circles of friends?
  • How about our old friends – will we still stay close?
  • What will our standing be in our new community?

Now, imagine what your anxiety level would be like if you would not be able to answer a single one of these questions.

WELCOME TO OUR WORLD

Welcome to our world.

Mommy, Daddy, I only posed these questions to you so that you would gain some understanding into my world.

You always say that you remember what it was like to be a teenager. I think that you may remember on some level, but please don’t take this personally – I don’t think you really ‘get it.’

Come to think of it, I only asked you some of the questions that go through my mind. There are so many more.

  • Will I get into a good High School and Seminary?
  • Which one?
  • Who will I marry?
  • Will I marry?
  • How am I supposed to figure out who to marry?
  • Will I have a great marriage or will we fight all the time like some of my friend’s parents?
  • Will I have children?
  • What will they look like?
  • Will I be able to afford to give my kids the things that we have at home?

CHANGING

These past few months you both have been complaining about how “I am changing.” You say that you don’t recognize me any more. We are arguing more than we ever did.

Well, I am changing!! My body is changing, my mind is changing, and my life is changing. We both have to deal with that. I am not eight years old any more. I still love you very much, but I need to move on and get my own life.

And the thing that frustrates me is that I can’t seem to discuss things with you without a full-blown argument over my clothing, my friends, my language; whatever!

I thought that writing things down in a few letters might help you understand the big picture – what it is really like to be a teenager.

I am hoping that you will come to understand why my friends are so important to me, why I ‘zone out’ sometimes. Why I get moody and impatient, and roll my eyes (sorry about that) when you lecture me.

I hope you will read this carefully. It was quite difficult to write this letter, but I’m hoping that it will be a good first step in improving our relationship.

Love

Adina

© 2005 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



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1. Well Said!     8/30/07 - 6:33 PM
shtarkebachur

as a teenager, i can relate to these feelings.

parents, take a step back. look at your kid. it's not "your" kid anymore.

when he was little, you could easily get him to do what's right (or anything you wanted him to do).

you see your kid doing something you think is not good for him. so you go "don't do that!"

well listen up: his mind is starting to run on its own, as much as you might want to run it for him. you mean well, you want to protect him. but making his decisions for him will (1)deprive him of learning responsibility. (2) make him resent that you think he's incapable.

you CAN help your kid, if you respect his right to decide for himself. when he sees that, you can discuss and he'll even be grateful for your input. don't TELL him what he must do.

you have to feel this respect for your kid's intelligence. if he sees you really are not trusting him, you will get nothing out of your discussion. because then you are not having a discussion. TBC


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2. parents-children     8/30/07 - 7:39 PM
Anonymous

In many frum circles (especially chassidic but in others too, like YOB), you just move on into the high school that is affililated with your elementary school. Getting into the seminary of one's choice is only an issue if a girl expects to be able to attend certain seminaries in Eretz Yisrael. In the US, it's a non-issue.

Who will I marry and how will I know whom to marry are questions a teen might wonder about, but I didn't spend much time on that until I was in shidduchim.

Will I marry was not a question.

I gave not a single thought to whether I would fight all the time. Why would a child think that unless their own parents fight?

Will I have children?

I had every expection that I would have children. Although I knew a few people who had a long wait or none, the vast majority of couples, boruch Hashem, have children. This was a non-issue. Unless it hits close to home with an older sibling suffering from infertility, it is not something the typical teen obsesses about. Nor does a typical teenager spend much if any time wondering what they will look like.

Will I be able to afford to give my kids the things that we have at home??

That could be a concern, again, when in late high school or seminary and seriously contemplating marriage in the near future, but not when a teen's "body is changing" in preteen or early teens.

So no, I don't think these questions were on my mind at that age, and if a teenager cannot have nice discussions with her parents, it's likely because they didn't have much in the way of discussions when she was 3 and 7 and 9 which is why her friends mean more to her than her old-fogie parents.

Moodiness and eye-rolling are inexcusable. Sounds like a self-centered kid ... If she wants to make a first step to improve their relationship, how about reviewing the laws of kibud av v'eim?


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3. Exhibit A, parents     8/30/07 - 8:40 PM
tb

"if a teenager cannot have nice discussions with her parents, it's likely because they didn't have much in the way of discussions when she was 3 and 7 and 9 which is why her friends mean more to her than her old-fogie parents.

Moodiness and eye-rolling are inexcusable. Sounds like a self-centered kid ... If she wants to make a first step to improve their relationship, how about reviewing the laws of kibud av v'eim?"

Anonymous, you truly are exhibit A. Priceless.


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4. Quote     8/31/07 - 1:47 AM
AK

Hi,

'I am hoping that you will come to understand ... Why I get moody and impatient, and roll my eyes (sorry about that) when you lecture me. '

The kid's explanation is for sure not an excuse , but his feeling are perfectly valid. There are plenty comments by Chazal against criticism and lecturing people , where is the bein adam le'chaveiro. As parents lets look at how we contribute to our kids behavior by lecturing, lack of empathy , inability to be responsive to a kids needs. Throwing kibud av at a kid ignores your role and also shows weakness ( it is the role of teachers) . Instead of lecturing, why not problem solve , starting out with empathy validating feelings and then putting all concerns on the table. The kid may be respectful , but he will come away with bad feeling inside. I agree that when you talk to kids when they are young, they will talk to you when they are older.


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5. Absolutely     8/31/07 - 2:23 AM
shtarkebachur - shtarkebachur@aol.com

Chinuch about Ona'as Devarim and Ahavas Yisroel is important too.

Additionally, when you treat your kids with dignity they are more likely to reciprocate.

Let them enjoy doing Kibbud Av Va'em! Give them reason to respect you. How about, treating others with dignity.


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6. hello?!     8/31/07 - 11:59 AM
dani

in reference to tb comment mabey parents should learn how to deal with children just as much as we should learn hilchos kibud av?


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7. that's what i meant     8/31/07 - 12:19 PM
shtarkebachur - shtarkebachur@aol.com


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8. honoring parents - honoring kids     9/2/07 - 4:21 AM
Nechama

A child who is spoken to with respect will have a relatively easier time being respectful to his parents. A child who is treated as a human being, will have an easier time treating his parents as king and queen. etc

It is important to note that in today's society, to treat anyone you live with nicely, is difficult. Add to that, that you need to ask requests of your children, such as they should help around the house. The parents know that the kids should help. The kids know that the kids should help. Yet the kids believe that it is important to deny this spark, and NOT help, or if they do it should be resentfully.

Similarly with sharing their experiences and thoughts with parents. Kids believe they shouldn't be keeping so much to themselves. It feels scary to speak it out. So they blame their parents for not having created the relationship that would make it second nature to share. They insist on turning every talk designed for their benefit into a "lecture" as they clamp their lips tight, or fight like a tiger on a leash. They bury the spark that tells them that they can talk and that their parents love them, and the discomfort would be only temporary.

Because the opposite of the above is true too. A child who is being respectful to his parents will often find that they speak nicely to him. A child who treats his parents like a king and queen will usually find that he is at least treated as a human being, which is what we what we claim we need.

The difference is who to blame. Kids seem to feel that parents should do everything! From swallowing in silence and not taking offense when the kid says something hurtful (after all, we as kids are entitled to say what we like), to having plenty of time to both peruse the literature on how to be a better parent (even if the reality is that the parents are washing the dishes while the teen is surfing the Net, and yes, there is a ton of housework that needs to get done every single day), to integrating on their own all this new parenting stuff into their lives (remember until very recently, for the last almost 6000 years, until a kid showed he was responsible, you treated him like a baby. This is new stuff man, to recognize that the kid doesn't earn money, won’t contribute significantly, doesn't behave respectfully, has a tremendous amount of financial needs - but you have to treat him like a prince for him to be able to grow out of it - when he says he is ready).

They say kids are more adaptable to change than adults. How about the *kids* starting the revolution in gentle, helpful, and open behavior? I'm a parent = but I'm a kid too, of my parents. It's never too late.


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9. Cooperation     9/2/07 - 1:30 PM
Ak

' Yet the kids believe that it is important to deny this spark, and NOT help, or if they do it should be resentfully. '

Why is this so ? Firstly kids are so different, some find helping and being compliant pretty natural and easy , and some have an INERTIA probem , to get them moving is virtually impossible. IMHO helping in the home often is a top-down instruction , rather than kids encouraged during a family meeting to participate and contribute so the home can meet everybody's needs more efficiently. Instead of asking kids to help to do something, ask what they would be comfortable with doing, do they have any ideas how we can make the home a happier place to be in? Give the a voice , let them make lists , so you are following a mutually acceptable list, the list is saying what to do , not you. When you are trying to control somebody , get them to do something which maybe they agree is the right thing, but it is not self directed, there is no responsibility , there is a yeitzer working against it.

I think it helps a lot if one knows how to deal with unmet expectations. One has a choice and can look around and find endless things that kids are doing or have not done and decide do I complain and rant or do I make a humorous comment or hint , ' I' statement , if that works good, if not I do the job myself and try solve the problem at a family meeting. I don't lower my expectations, but when they are not met it does not effect me personally , I do the job myself , it takes less energy, less time, less frustrating to do the job itself. A lesson I learned from an ex-abusive husband - he was told not to rely on others, don't expect people to do things for you , try to do as much as you can yourself, you will find you have less anger , you will be less controlling and be less demanding of others. I'd rather have a happier home, be a happier person than power struggles. There is a book , great title - Codependent , no more - how to stop controlling others and take care of yourself. IMHO take time to nurture yourself, go for good communication, living together rather trying to find ways to motivate kids to do what you want. It is not easy , but when we see the solution being that we are failing to reach them , we will be less in a confrontational mode.

'sharing their experiences and thoughts with parents. They insist on turning every talk designed for their benefit into a "lecture" . They bury the spark that tells them that they can talk and that their parents love them, and the discomfort would be only temporary. '

When we deal with kids , the question is not whether it is right or wrong , but rather we have to deal with their perceptions. If they perceive we are lecturing them , if there is discomfort no matter how temporary , they will shut down and not feel understood , see you as lacking empathy, understanding and not seek your help. Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro - great web site- describes how a Beis Ya'akov girl comes to her father and tells him that she has ahd a boyfriend for the last 2 years. The father hits the roof etc etc. Rav Shapiro says to the father , you daughter came to you because she needs help , waht she got was a reprimand and rejection. According to Rav Shapiro parents are the last to know if their kid has done something wrong, it is quite easy to know why. What i like about CPS - collaborative problem solving is that there is no blame , there is a belief that we all make mistakes and that kids can trust their parents to come up with a better plan. Vidui comes at the end of the Teshuvah process , we stop what we are doing and come up with a better plan, have a vision for the future, this is what a kid wants and then he can try to fix the past , make amends, restitution, apologize. Remorse and apology is rather different after you see yourself as a different person, you have a different vision , the apology of a thief is rather meaningless. more later - got to go


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10. yes but     9/2/07 - 2:14 PM
Nechama

AK

All that you said makes sense, and shows how parents can ideally make their home a happier place. I try to apply these tools myself.

But on this website, and scattered around the world, are loads of kids whose parents are not so open to being gentle and considerate to them.

I was suggesting that instead of them hoping that this is a license to sink into depression, or do bad things, the kids themselves can apply these rules of improved communication to their parents. Start bottom up.

There is everything to gain and only pride to lose (which is not so minor, but shouldn't stand in the way of creating a happy home). I'm sure all kids care about their younger brothers and sistes, and this is the best gift they can give them. Model to your parents openness and kindness.


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11. testing     9/4/07 - 4:52 AM
Ak

Hi


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12. School - kibud Av     9/4/07 - 5:06 AM
AK

Hi, For kids to be part of the solution for a happier and more effective family life , the schools have to play an educational role in helping kids cope with this difficult mitzvah , give life skills to improve relationships with family members and solve problems. IMHO kibud AV should be taught in the context of a social unit, a community , a family and not just a chok or halacha. This reminds me of an incident at the time of the ' Hitnatkut' from Gaza - parents were unhappy that their kids wanted to go to the south and join the protests. The kid asked a shay'ala. The Rov , well respected, said that the kid(18) did not have to listen to the parents. Now according to the Halacha I assume he was right, my point being the question at hand is not whether you have to listen to parents , but how do you interact with them , live with them. Life is give and take - addressing concerns of all and trying to meet them. So a kid seeing a parent distressed would try to meet them half way , relate to their concerns, in the same way a parent would go the extra mile for the kid, give them for eg the car, or allow them to go somewhere despite certain misgivings because it was important for the kid. When these life skills are in place , Kibud Av has more of a chance. IMHO it is the teachers who have the role in fostering Kibud Av , parents try to be less imposing , create a user friendly environment. Ya'akov called his sons, my brothers. The parent - child relationship is often described as a teacher pupil one , and where the honor of the pupil is as dear to the teacher as his own honor - Pirkei Avos, the dynamic will ensure that learning take place , learning where the teacher can proudly say , I have learned the most from my pupils. The same is true for parents and kids , its about learning, parallel thinking and as The Chovot Hatalmidim says we have to help kids take responsibility for educating themselves, to use modern words (Deci)- to be self determined and self- directed and problem solving helps that. I heard a story from a Rav. He lives in Bnei Brak and outside his apartment building is a tree - reaches 5 floors. One day the Rav is sitting on his balcony and his neighbour shouts that the Rav's son is climbing the tree. The Rav answers - that OK with me - asks the neighbour what about pikuach nefesh.? The Rav answered - he climbs up to the first floor , but your son when you are not around climbs to the 5th floor. So your son , not only is o'veir kibud Av because he is not allowed to climb , he is also o'veir on pikuach nefesh. What I did is I sat down with my kids, put our concerns on the table and agreed that climbing to the first floor would meet both our concerns - so we have kibud AV and avoiding danger. The halacha is very interesting in regard to Kibud AV and lifnei I'veir. One should avoid being demanding that is not compatible with the kid's flexibility and frustration level, rather frame questions as a request rather than a demand , be mocheil when they are o'veir kibud Av ( in a way that does not lower your expectations of them) so they don't get the a'veira. This also helps change the mindset that my kids must listen to what I tell them and you stop complaining that they don't listen to you, the onus being put on you to find ways that they can be cooperative. IMHO making kids part of the solution, reaching understanding where both concerns are addressed is the best way to set limits. The choice is not whether you choose to be authoritarian or permissive or a 3rd way see Baumrind =authoritative - warmth and love with firm limits which is essentially authoritarian with warmth and love but ' working with and problem solving' .


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13. kibud yeladim     9/4/07 - 11:33 AM
Anonymous

what's with you clueless parents anyway? I mean COME ON GUYS,GET WITH IT! Learn how to parent! Sometimes you say just the stupidest, unhelpful things. Don't expect me to respect you until you FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT RIGHT! Until then, get off my back! (but remember to give me my allowance, pay for driver's ed, send me to camp, seminary/yeshiva, get me the latest gadgetry, and make the food I like).


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14. Anonymous     9/5/07 - 3:04 AM
AK

Hi, I have previously asked that people use a username instead of anonymous. One's anonymity is still protected, it is more respectful , allows for more coherent dialog and the development of a cyber community. I can connect to M, Tb, Anon5 , Nechama , Yardena etc and care and think about them. I thank you for your cooperation.

Anonymous above - I must thank you for being a trigger to understanding what Nechama was saying. Chazall say - who is honored and respected, one who respects other people. The role that kids have in improving kibud le - yeladim , is being respectful to others. I welcome contributions of younger people here but remember it is an invitation to join an ' adult' discussion. I have enjoyed some meaningful discussion from younger people here and look forward to the same high standard from all


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15. AK:     9/5/07 - 2:36 PM
Anonymous

Sorry ... the kibud yeladim comment was meant as a tongue-in-cheek comment ... written by an adult


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16. View of kids     9/5/07 - 4:36 PM
Ak

Hi, I guessed that maybe you were just ' kidding'. However how one sees kids as Ross Greene put it - Children do well if they can , rather than children do well if they want to. From his expereince challenging kids were not interested in making their parents or teachers miserable , wanted to be liked and successful, but lacked skills. One's view of kids will determine one's intervention


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17. Letter from Off-the Derech - Teenager (woods)     9/6/07 - 1:14 AM
AK

Hi, I enjoyed this letter ( non Jewish ), gave me perspectives but for some it could be reality

http://pleasestoptherollercoaster.com/blog/category/jokes-humor/


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18. troubled teen writes     9/9/07 - 2:55 PM
tzipi - monsey - tjtgtl@yahoo.com

Parents must respect their teen more that anything else. Trust them to do what's right, and they will. show them you believe they are capable and they will prove you right! We are not little kids anymore... wake up to that fact...


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19. Trust and respect     9/10/07 - 2:49 AM
shtarkebachur - shtarkebachur@aol.com

I agree with Tzipi. I'd like to hear what parents think about respecting children. My parents say, you better listen to me. I am your father/mother. They threaten to take away privileges.

Hello, I'm not a kid anymore. I get really mad that you aren't taking my feelings into account. I'm just as human as you are.

I know you think you have right to say whatever you want because you are my parent, and because you have more life experience. But that is wrong. You have no right to just ignore how i feel and treat me like my opinion doesn't matter.


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20. Hello, I'm not a kid anymore     9/10/07 - 3:59 AM
AK

S.Bachur The statement 'Hello, I'm not a kid anymore' reflects a similar thinking to the disrespectful parent. A kid does not deserve to be treated respectfully, given a voice ,let him know that his opinion is valued and respected , get in touch and validate his feelings. A baby, a toddler , kid , teenager, all people should be treated respectfully. I think the blog reflects this sentiment. It has been quoted here in the name of the Chazon Ish - Children need more their parents respect than love. Treating children respectfully , giving them a voice ,is also an emotional need. It takes a paradigm shift to move away from my kids must listen to me , to let me see how can I reach them, lets cooperate and problem solve.

With regard to problem solving Myrna Shure says ' Problem solving is the only technique that truly involves the participation of the child to make a decision, decide whether or not it’s a good one , the consequences of this decision on others , not just a what's in it for me perspective and then, if needed, think of a new solution. It’s also the only way children are truly guided toward empathy, that is, to make decisions based on how the other will feel. But first, the child comes to care about his own feelings, because that matters as part of the decision-making process, and also, no one can truly care about others if he dosen’t care about himself.


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21. Kibud Av V'Em     9/10/07 - 7:47 AM
Anon 5

Kibud Av V’Em. This is an outrageously extreme statement, but hold your chairs – it makes some sense. This respect needs to be earned.

Q. “How can you say that? It’s a mitzvah in the Torah – Hashem commanded us to respect and honor parents. That does not include earning it.”

A. Hashem has the option of commanding that our children respect us. Thatis His mitzvah. It may be incumbent on us to be mechanech our children to have such respect. However, once we demand it, we are appearing, to the young mind, as selfish and only with self interest. That message is not part of the mitzvah.

Kibud Av V’Em includes two aspects. One is the mitzvah, bain odom la’Makom, and this is Hashem’s commandment. The second is bain odom la’chaveiro, the gratitude that is owed to parents for bringing the child into the world and sustaining him/her until this point. (Check Minchas Chinuch 31.) While we need to teach a child to say “Thank You”, demanding it becomes a shpiel, just insincere utterance.

I have always marveled at the demands of respect made by parents for themselves and mechanchim for themselves. These efforts are doomed and ineffective. A true partnership would involve mechanchim teaching respect for parents, and parents teaching for mechanchim. What utopia!

Meanwhile, the parent needs to generate the "feeling" of respect, which will bring along the actions to follow.


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22.     9/10/07 - 9:33 AM
M

America is a country which champions respecting, honoring, even idolizing youth. Anybody think this is getting us anywhere good? I don't. It grates on my ears to hear comment after comment about respect for children. No, I don't think adults demanding respect is effective. Yes, I think people of all ages should be treated respectfully. And yet, when parents (any adults) and children (no matter their age, 5, 15, or 55) are spoken of as peers, "you respect me, and I'll respect you," then I think something is greatly amiss in frum society.


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23. missing the point     9/10/07 - 2:37 PM
yoni

I think, M, that you are missing the point. the parent/child relationship is by its very nature one of extreme vulnerability for the child. This child depends on their parent for their daily food, clothing, shelter, love, caring and everything. Children know this, and when things are handled in a heavy handed way, they feel resentful, because at the end of the day they become afraid. When parents no not respect or value their children's feelings things become abusive, and because the child has no way out, and they know this, the child is forced in to a bad possition of trying to force parents to understand them, and so they act out.

If you have ever experienced it, it is a very scary thing to feel like those whom you depend on for basic necessities do not care what you feel, and do not respect your basic needs and feelings and wants.


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24. Response to AK (post #20)     9/10/07 - 3:22 PM
shtarkebachur - shtarkebachur@aol.com

Quote:"S.Bachur The statement 'Hello, I'm not a kid anymore' reflects a similar thinking to the disrespectful parent."

I realize it might seem that i also think kids don't deserve respect, because of the way i put it. However, that was not my point.

I was trying to give parents this message: When I was a kid, you were able to disrespect me and still get me to comply. That is because I was scared of you. You were NOT giving me chinuch this way, you were just teaching me to disrespect anyone smaller than me.

But I'm not a kid anymore. Now, you can't even get the short-term compliance. So even if you still think kids don't deserve respect from you, wake up. If you don't respect me now, you will suffer. I will not take it anymore, because I am not a kid.

(The rest my thoughts were clearly said by AK in Post #20.)


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25. Thanks fot the P'shat     9/10/07 - 4:17 PM
Ak

S.Bachur, Maybe because IMHO it is difficult to control others , even kids that I missed p'shat in your words.


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26. huh?     9/10/07 - 7:36 PM
shtarkebachur


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27. How we regard kids     9/11/07 - 7:07 AM
Ak

Hi

M- America is a country which champions respecting, honoring, even idolizing youth. Anybody think this is getting us anywhere good? I don't. It grates on my ears to hear comment after comment about respect for children.

My impression from parenting forums, books and the media is rather different. Parents may give love and warmth but being respectful requires a pradigm shift , the quote from the Chazon Ish, that children needing more their parents respect than their warmth or love being a big chiddush for many

Alfie Kohn in his book Unconditional parenting has a few pages on how American culture relates to children , not supportive and fondness or affection is conditional if they are well behaved. ' Indeed surveys of American adults consistently find what one news paper called a ' stunning level of antagonism not just towards teenagers but toward young children as well'. ....children are not valuable as people in their own right but only for the adults they will grow up to be ... parents spending lots of money on kids, adverisisers and entertainment conglomerates target kids give the impression we are a child-centered society ...If children are not held in high esteem it is easier for even good parents to treat their own kids disrespectfully.... if you don;t trust them , have a negative view of human nature , your fear that they will constantly take advantage of year, they will go out of their way to control them. Authoratarian parents who demand absolute obedience often attribute unflattering characteristics to their kids . He then asks how do we think children are treated ( later )

He says the answer is not more discipline, but for grown ups to spend more time with kids, to give them more guidance and treat them with more respect

M- Yes, I think people of all ages should be treated respectfully. And yet, when parents (any adults) and children (no matter their age, 5, 15, or 55) are spoken of as peers, "you respect me, and I'll respect you," then I think something is greatly amiss in frum society.

I can appreciate that emphasizing respect to children may give the impression that respectful behavior by children or between adults is less of an issue. I think respect should be unconditional , there is a basic standard that we should uphold even if the other party is being unrespectful , so there is no place for a kid to say , I'll respect you if you will respect me , and also the same goes for the parent maintaining respectful language even when his kid is being mouthy. A respectful dynamic is usually when we acknowledge the other's position as a parent, teacher, professor etc and in contrast the parent, teacher or prof try to break the barrier and invite more intimacy. Jacob calls his sons , my brothers, they call him our father. Shana Tova - Thank you Rav Horowitz and all the posters here for making this blog a caring and stimulating place to be


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28. To Shtarkebachur and Tzipi and other teens/young adults     9/11/07 - 9:08 AM
Nechama

Do you really think that as children mature into adults they automatically know how to deal with every slight, scary situation, pain, difficulty? Do you not get thrown by these things?

So do many adults. Yes adults are held responsible by Hashem to do better, but blame and finger pointing and anger are OUT OF PLACE. Most parents really are doing the best they can. They don't know how to deal with you better. If their parents would have dealt with them respectfully, like you are expecting that they should treat you, then they would have NO PROBLEM being kind and nice and gentle to you. But they WERE NOT treated nicely. This is for several reasons. 1) In those days, society's expectations were such that good parents provide food and clothing and a roof over the head for the children. Food, clothing, and a roof over their head. Did your parents give that to you? That is what they were taught to give. This was reciprocated by the children as they gave a LOT of WILLING help. Do you give your parents a lot of willing help? This situation used to continue until the age of 12-17 at which point the child, if not yet married went out to work to HELP SUPPORT the family. Have you ever even considered such a thing? Perhaps your parents have instead CONTINUED TO FULLY SUPPORT YOU, and not just your basic needs, but fancy clothes, cell phones and entertainments costs too?

Please, please recognize where YOU stand relative to your parents' expectations in the above lines.

Now, the situation is a bit changed nowadays. Why? Not because "everyone else's parents" are so much kinder than yours. Really because some other people's parents are so traumatized by their youth that they can't tolerate their own children in the house and they PAY THEM to keep away in practise. They give them tons of cash, unlimited clothing, a car, holidays abroad. Plenty food - you don't even need to ask Mom what's to eat. Please don't even THINK of helping in the home. Keep away, emotionally and physically. The only thing that these parents "ask for" in return is that the kids must always maintain the FACADE that they have a loving functional, respectful family. A family of totally self centered individuals, whose hearts have been totally hardened to the needs of their brothers, sisters and classmates through thorough neglect - yet dressed beautifully, and APPEARING so content.

Shtarkebachur and Tzipi, these families are virtually DEADDDDDDDDD. Your families are hurting, and where there is pain IT IS A SIGN OF LIFEEEEEEEEEE. Recognize that the fighting and the arguing and the speaking to you without the respect that you deserve - that it's not only a sign that your mother doesn't know how best to deal with you. IT IS ALSO A SIGN THAT SHE WANTS TO HAVE WHAT TO DO WITH YOU. SHE WANTS COMMUNICATION. SHE WANTS TO TRANSMIT TO YOU HER MESSAGE ACROSS THE INTERGENERATIONAL GAP. There is a ton of static.

Fix the wire from your end. She has love to give you. She loves you. All mothers and fathers love their children. If the love comes mixed with messages of anger, recognize that the anger *really* comes from aspects out of her control. But the fact that she is trying to reach you is good. Reach out. Let yourself get your mother's love. Nobody else, not the most caring counsellor in the world can get you your mother's love.

Don't make the mistake of saying selfishly "If she knew how much she was hurting me she would get counselling help. She would improve. She could improve. She just doesn't WANT to." How do you know? You know whether you can improve or not, but how can you know about her? Hashem caused here to be indoctrinated with different beliefs from what are currently available. But He also caused you to be her child. Imagine you are the last generation before Moshiach. The family line is made of individuals that have been misunderstood by their parents for 2000 years. Not because anyone is BAD. But because every generation is DIFFERENT. Different strengths, different weaknesses. You probably couldn't have been Frum like your parents managed to be if you would have been born when they were young. True or not? Yet your job is to just be FRIENDLY and stay FRUM and to FIND WAYS to protect yourself from the sting of the ways they speak to you. BE PROACTIVE, eg, stay out of the house, most of the day, especially the morning! Show you are doing something productive. Talk about your chesed activities, how you help your friends. Modesty and secrecy DESTROY relationships. Let them know that they have raised a Mentch.

Other ideas: Help before they ask. Offer to do your own laundry. Buy them a new sefer or flowers or cake for yomtov (eg buy them the kind of useless gift they usually get you. It's probably what they like).

Shana tova to all. Please don't think I Don't care that you are hurting. I really do. I'm just trying to help you, practically, with better understanding of where your parents are coming from, and tips to improve the situation. Only you know if you can change. On ROsh Hashono everything is possible. Daven for ideas and help to improve the relationship, as well as to not get hurt. Remember, pain means you are still alive, and that you are on the way to healing.

Best regards. Ksiva vechasima tova. You deserve it. Always continue reaching out for help, as you have done, may you reach your goal.


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29. kibud     9/11/07 - 10:04 AM
M

As far as I know, the mitzva is to honor parents and teachers. It doesn't use the word "kavod" for other relationships, I don't think (or does it? maybe for kohanim?).

In other relationships there's 1) derech eretz 2) love as in ahavas Yisrael 3) the negative precept of not hurting people with words (onoas devarim).

Kavod-respect has specific parameters. In this great article:

http://www.shemayisrael.com/jewishobserver/archives/march/rwenger.htm

it says: The Chayei Adam7 writes that kibbud is performed with thought, speech and deed. “With thought” requires us to think of our parents as great, respected people, even though they may actually be simple members of society. Anything less turns our actions and words into “they honor me with their mouths and lips but their hearts are distant from me.” Serving food to a parent is an act of kibbud only when it is based on a feeling of awe and respect.8 According to the Chayei Adam, this is halacha, not chassidus (beyond halachic requirements) nor middos tovos (a matter of character refinement). The Bina L’ittim understood the laws as the Chayei Adam did: If we stand in awe and respect of our parents, if we feel insignificant in their presence, we are then ready to undertake the fear and service of Hashem.

So seems to me that when frum people are discussing a subject, we should be finding out what the Torah has to say about it, rather than quoting secular sources and the popular psychology of the day.


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30. Re: Post 28 by Nechama     9/11/07 - 1:40 PM
shtarkebachur - shtarkebachur@aol.com

Wise words wisely put. Thanks!


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31. Respecting children     9/12/07 - 4:43 AM
Ak

Hi,

M- So seems to me that when frum people are discussing a subject, we should be finding out what the Torah has to say about it, rather than quoting secular sources and the popular psychology of the day.

The topic here has been focussing on parents, so the article and sources is not really on the subject. I don't dismiss an idea or observations simply the source is secular or the author a social scientist etc , but rather explore the idea , examine the se'varah and whether it would fit comfortably with my Torah. The Torah is vast. ( I stop taking seriously when the words popular psychology , secular sources or other generalizations , or headlines are thrown at me , shows ideas , se'varos are running out )I heard ,the Gra was asked why he did not write on minyan ha 613 mitzvot , he replied that there are millions of mitzvot. Harav Nissin Gaon in his introduction to masechet Brochot says that mitvot that could be derived through se'varah and the understanding of the heart were obligated from the time of creation. We read recently that the Torah is not far , away but in our hearts , so I am interested in hearing se'varos and anything that contributes to good discussion and learning , from whatever source IMHO is welcome. I am very confident as I am in constant discussion with 2 Rosh Kollelim ( chareidi) here in Israel who validate the sources I share with them , same for a Talmid Chacham and psychologist.

The word Kavod is used for everyone , not only for parents, teachers - kavod ha'briyot , ei'ze me'chubad , ha'mechabeid et habriyot ' let the kavod of your friend be dear to you, the halochos of Pezukei de'zimra - sho'eil because of kavod , applies to every one. The seifer Charadeim (?) says the basis of the mitvot of kavod is tzurat ha'dibur - how we speak . ' Kevodo ze re'tzono ' - so when I talk about respect in the broadest sense , it means taking people including children seriously , giving them a voice and trying to meet their needs . Most situations are informal learning opportunities , one moment you are a Rav , the next moment you are a Talmid , ... the most I have learned from my Talmidim , who is wise who learns from every one , so not only do we have a chiyuv from Kavod habriyot , but also respect for a teacher .I have already mentioned in the name of the Chazon Ish - What kids need more than warmth and love is their parents respect.

The article about kibud Av is great for kids , but problematic for a parent. Our vulnerability , the knowledge that the Torah obligates our children to comply makes it easier for us to fall into the trap of being demanding and disrespectful. The halachos of Kibud Av - lifnei iveir ,advise a parent to be moichel his kavod ( in a way that does not undermine his position) , not be demanding and a burden= see the story of Reb Shalom Zalman Aurbach asking his kids to put in a home , rather than he burden them. Yakov called his sons , my brothers - Rashi translates the word AV - used in Yoseif's role in Egypt as father. The article brings the Chaye Adam and Reb Chayim Smulevitz advice to try find something special in a parent which will enable one to fullfil this difficult mitvah. I would like to suggest that this follows the statement that one should honor people like Raban Gamlieil and like the saying of the wise man who would look for something special in others so that he could honor him - Pele Yo'etz Maybe if we look closer at kids , we can find something special about them that will help us be respectful , but ultimately being respectful to others is being respectful to yourself . I thinks what kids are asking is to be treated respectfully and be taken seriously. Also try take things seriously , examine them, explore them, agree, disagree, be critical , use se'varos - your Torah thinking = that reminds me of the Sage who never said something that he never heard from his Rabonim, and yet the Gemoroh tells of the same Sage who gave a drasha filled with chidushim that no one had ever heard, answers Reb Chaim Smulevitz - he never said anything that felt his Rabbis would never had said. What the Torah says , you won't (only) find it the Torah - there is se'varah , chidushim and if one uses a secular or academic source to stimulate thinking why not !


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32.     9/12/07 - 6:26 AM
yoni

to be clear M, the rabbis of every generation from the tannoim and before, on down looked for good ideas from the non-jewish world and took them for their own. (in particular the rishonim did this.)


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33.     9/12/07 - 11:18 AM
M

the rabbis of every generation from the tannoim and before, on down looked for good ideas from the non-jewish world and took them for their own. (in particular the rishonim did this.)

Oh? I thought they said "hafoch ba v'hafoch ba, d'kula ba." Let's hear examples of Tanaim and Rishonim who looked for good ideas from the non-Jewish world.


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34.     9/12/07 - 12:10 PM
yoni

lets start with the two most obvious examples, the ramban and the rambam. The rambam's entire moreh nevuchim is based on secular greek ideas, and he quotes their sciences in his mishnah torah quite liberaly (and even gives atribution) and uses them. The ramban in his drushei chassunah goes at length about the praiseworthiness of the greek philosophy and what we can learn from it, and bases some of the drush on it. Tanya quotes secular medicine in his descriptions of people's temprement and how to deal with it and attributes this. ebin ezra I believe also did so, just look at his comentary. Our sages said to learn from absolutely everyone, not just from torah (although one should determine the value of what one is learning). (these examples are only off the top of my head.)


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35.     9/12/07 - 12:12 PM
yoni

I missed the most obvious example! Moshe learned from yisro, his thuroughly idolatrous father in law, how to set up a court system, and hashem approved it! These stories are not included in the torah because they are a distant matter to you, but because we should learn from them! (as torah is NOT a history book, and everything in it is imediately relevant to your life.)


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36. Torah Sources     9/15/07 - 5:03 PM
Nechama

Dear M;

First of all G'mar Chassima Tova.

Secondly, I want to point out that Torah Sources do not necessarily represent Torah Hashkofo.

The presence or lack of a "Torah source" usually does not prove someone's point. This is because a Torah source can be quoted out of context to mean something entirely different. Even IN context, we are often not on a high enough Madreigah to understand the motives of those involved. So just because a Rishon did something, does not mean we should copy, in today's generation.

I have often wondered why the Torah does not include specific instructions of how to speak with one's husband, what to do when one's 2 year old spreads chocolate spread all over everything, how to switch on an seemingly disinterested teen, how to deal with depression. A formula to simplify our lives, that would always. But the Torah doesn't say. Nor does it say what the Imahos cooked for lunch, and how they shared out the childcare between them. I would love to know. I am not joking. If the Torah is the Book for Life, why does it not explicitly state how I can live my life. How I can deal with difficult people. Etc.

The answer is that when you learn Torah, or live in a household where Torah is the goal, you absorb the values of the Torah, and are able to apply them as necessary. More effort for Torah, and more association with Tzadikim means better absorption of the values, and an easier life (less Sfaikos (doubts), less wasted effort, more Mitzvos, more fulfillment).

Therefore, I suggest that the Torah tells us only the things that are important for all the generations. If the Shevatim survived, then somehow, the Imahos provided meals for them. We see that the Shevatim were all Tzadikim, and so their mothers and father must have brought up their children wonderfully. Yet the methods they used are not told to us, because that's not what we should be doing. We have to get the same results with ourselves, and our children, our challenges and our personalities.

That is why this forum is full of people discussing people's personalities, and the way they perceive the challenges of today. BECAUSE WE WANT TO ACHIEVE, JUST LIKE THE IMAHOS DID, AND THE WOMEN IN MITZRAYIM. One lost soul is FAR too many. We want to bring the Ge'ulah Sheleima. We want Mashiach.

Nobody here is quoting hippie psychology just for the fun of it, or to brainwash the other readers. The only reason everyone is here is to improve. Everything quoted from Goyish (non-Jewish) sources is because the people who quoted it found it to be excellent advice. Why leave good stuff for the Goyim?

It is written by Chazal that the Goyim can often have the wisdom, yet only Jews have Torah. Application of some of the Goyim's hard work in discovering human nature, for the purpose of living as healthy Frum people with a goal of getting close to Hashem is one step above psychology. It is Torah.


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37. Respect for kids     9/16/07 - 4:01 AM
AK

Hi, The obvious source which I have quoted before but failed to quote is from Avos - that for teachers , the Kavod of their pupils should be as dear as their own and since we do learn from our kids, pupils as well ..... and from my pupils I learned the most

Sources are merely there to help stimulate discussion, examine and explore ideas. If your Torah is integrated , one has little difficulty in discussing a subject using Torah Thinking and yet , not quoting. My Rosh Yeshivah was more interested my se'varos than quoting somebody. One of the reasons IMHO why kids become disconnected is that they never develop their own Torah , how they relate and think about issues , they are never asked what they think about an issue or p'shat in some text , just giving back what some else said. I once sat in a shiur and the Rov asked for pshat in the Gemorah - some one gave an answer - the Rov answered that's Rashi's Pshat , I want to hear your ideas.

So keep the ideas and creative thinking coming


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38. kavod     9/17/07 - 10:30 AM
M

The word Kavod is used for everyone , not only for parents, teachers - kavod ha'briyot , ei'ze me'chubad , ha'mechabeid et habriyot ' let the kavod of your friend be dear to you, the halochos of Pezukei de'zimra - sho'eil because of kavod , applies to every one.

Yet there are specific simanim/halachos in S.Aruch regarding kavod for parents and for teachers, not for the hamon am. Again, in other relationships there's 1) derech eretz 2) love as in ahavas Yisrael 3) the negative precept of not hurting people with words (onoas devarim), and the laws you mention about davening.

I think it's clear that the laws of kavod for parents and teachers (kohanim and kings) are in a category of their own, in that they go beyond the derech eretz/ahavas Yisrael/ona'as devarim laws that apply to one and all.


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39. yoni and nechama     9/17/07 - 10:46 AM
Anonymous

I don't think any of your examples prove your point yoni. To say that Rishonim looked for "good ideas" from the non-Jewish world to write their sefarim is, I think, outrageous and just simply not true. The purpose in presenting his ideas in Moreh Nevuchim in terms of Greek philosophy was a "kiruv method" to reach the wayward people of his time. The Baal Ha'Tanya, who wrote scathingly about studying secular chochma and said it contaminates the mochin, brings the Rambam as an example of someone who was able to study secular wisdom and not become ruined thereby. I highly doubt that you and I compare to a Rishon.

Moshe learned from yisro, his thuroughly idolatrous father in law, how to set up a court system, and hashem approved it!

First of all, Yisro had dropped his idolatry long ago - see Rashi on Shemos 2:16(which is why his daughters were mistreated by the shepherds). Second, court system? He suggested delegating authority so Moshe wouldn't have to do it all himself. This story doesn't say anything about your point, because 1)Moshe wasn't looking for good ideas from anyone, 2) he wasn't an idolator. Yisro made his suggestion, unsolicited.

That being said, I won't say that I don't read any secular material, because I do - "es chata'i ani mazkir." But to promote secular ideas, particularly when it comes to chinuch (which is not equivalent to "parenting") on a frum blog ... for a mosad chinuch to host secularly trained professionals to lecture to their teachers and parent body ... - it smacks of a chilul Hashem ... do we really need to "come on" to the secular world in order to know how to raise yiddishe kinderlach? how to establish a yiddishe home?

Nechama - I'm sure any frum person who quotes secular sources thinks it's good advice. That doesn't make it so. Nor does it make it compatible with Torah. One major problem with the layman/woman reading secular self-help books is that they are not educated and sophisticated enough to see how this material is often incompatible with Torah. I know from my own reading that these books are INVARIABLY a mish-mash of good ideas and outright anti-Torah ideas. Do I think the well-meaning frum reader is discerning enough to tell the difference? No.


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40.     9/17/07 - 11:37 AM
Yoni

anon, I think that you did not read the quote from the tanya closely enough. Firstly, the tanya would not have stated that "or one knows how to use them in their service of g-d" unless he believed it theoreticaly possible for anyone to make use of this information, if they only knew how. (everything in tanya is intended for the lay person.) Secondly, just because rishonim engaged in these persuits does not mean that else should engage in these persuits, I mean, the rishonim also ate, but that does not mean that it will contaminate us.

The point of the tanya, which you seemed to have missed, is that sciences are klipas nogah (which he states explicitly) which means that they are able to be used for the sake of the goodness of the divine service, and infact it is obligatory for everyperson to engage all klipas nogah in their divine service, as it is said of one of our rabbis, that he was want to buy everything at least once a year, in order to thank g-d for it. Fruther it is stated by our sages of blessed memory that a person will be called in to account for everything from which he obstained in this lifetime. Obviously this is refering to klipas nogah, which can be elavated, not to shalosh klipos hatemeius which cannot.

The entire point of klipas nogah is to take it and use it for the service of g-d, and this applies whether or not the klipas nogah is intelectual, or if it is middosdik, or even if it is asiyahdik (action). These things all must be used for the service of g-d.

Further it is quite puzzling that you would assert that the rishonim didn't use the secular sciences for the service of g-d, especialy given that the baal hatanya asserts that this is infact what they did (and if he mentions it here it means that this mode of service is both available and manditory on everyperson, that he must both use these things out for good, and if he is unknowledgable in such persuits, he must find a mentor who can teach him) on the very same page that you are blatantly misquoting.

According to tanya if one eats a carrot simply for the joy of eating a carrot than it contaminates him, because it is klipas nogah, and klipas nogah contaminates when done purely for its own sake, but when persued for holy purposes, than it is a blessing and a merit for the person so occupied.

Please, don't misquote tanya. There are plently of sources that are down on the idea of studying secular materials, but the baal hatanya certainly isn't one of them. Why he quotes secular sciences all throughout tanya, and his successors frequently assert the value of the secular sciences (as opposed to the secular philosophy, which is a much more tricky field.)


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41.     9/17/07 - 3:08 PM
M

btw - the previous anonymous comment was mine, forgot to put in name

the tanya would not have stated that "or one knows how to use them in their service of g-d" unless he believed it theoreticaly possible for anyone to make use of this information

I agree.

as it is said of one of our rabbis, that he was want to buy everything at least once a year, in order to thank g-d for it. Fruther it is stated by our sages of blessed memory that a person will be called in to account for everything from which he obstained in this lifetime.

Who are we kidding when we quote these sources? When we try out the latest restaurant, are we elevating anything or strengthening our animal soul? We pay lip service to these statements and forget the ikar - if it's not done l'sheim shomayim, it descends to the three impure kelipas.

Further it is quite puzzling that you would assert that the rishonim didn't use the secular sciences for the service of g-d

puzzling because I didn't say that

According to tanya if one eats a carrot simply for the joy of eating a carrot than it contaminates him, because it is klipas nogah, and klipas nogah contaminates when done purely for its own sake, but when persued for holy purposes, than it is a blessing and a merit for the person so occupied.

how many people do you know who eat carrots, or anything, for holy purposes? I know none. I know people who mouth the words, "l'sheim shomayim." I know people who eat to maintain their health. But mostly, I know people, like myself, who eat because we're hungry, because we like the food, because we feel like eating now as an activity, to socialize.

I am quite familiar with that piece of Tanya. Haven't noticed any misquotes on my part.

There are plently of sources that are down on the idea of studying secular materials, but the baal hatanya certainly isn't one of them.

you're joking, right? In chapter 8, the Baal Ha'Tanya says that in addition to the sin of bittul Torah when being involved in chochmos umos ha'olam, the tuma of chochmas ha'umos is greater than the tuma of devarim beteilim, because idle words only defile the emotions, but the chochmos ha'umos defile the chochma-bina-daas of the G-dly soul, UNLESS one uses these chochmos as a useful instrument, in order to earn a better parnasa with which to SERVE HASHEM, or, if he knows how to apply these chochmos in the service of Hashem or His Torah. This is why, says the Baal Ha'Tanya, Rambam and Ramban and their peers engaged in them.

Why he quotes secular sciences all throughout tanya

oh, I haven't noticed, must have missed it

and his successors frequently assert the value of the secular sciences (as opposed to the secular philosophy, which is a much more tricky field.)

The Rebbe, his successor, pleaded with his Chasidim to avoid teaching their children ANY secular studies, AT LEAST until age 9, but preferably not at all.


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42. Kavod     9/18/07 - 4:56 AM
Ak

Hi Qote Ak The word Kavod is used for everyone , not only for parents, teachers - kavod ha'briyot , ei'ze me'chubad , ha'mechabeid et habriyot ' let the kavod of your friend be dear to you, the halochos of Pezukei de'zimra - sho'eil because of kavod , applies to every one. M- response Yet there are specific simanim/halachos in S.Aruch regarding kavod for parents and for teachers, not for the hamon am. Again, in other relationships there's 1) derech eretz 2) love as in ahavas Yisrael 3) the negative precept of not hurting people with words (onoas devarim), and the laws you mention about davening.

I think it's clear that the laws of kavod for parents and teachers (kohanim and kings) are in a category of their own, in that they go beyond the derech eretz/ahavas Yisrael/ona'as devarim laws that apply to one and all.

IMHO, one does not to read into the word kavod ,derech eretz/ahavas Yisrael/ona'as devarim when Chazal refer to others. Kavod means what it says, just that the degree and stringency of detail differs between the me'chubadim themselves also and others. One can easily differentiate being treated with Kavod or with derech eretz, they are different. By the way , respecting and honoring Talmidim is a sif in Shulchan Aruch and we know how Pirkei Avos and Chazal in general fit in the life of a Jew , so taking Avos 6:3 , just learning one thing from a person requires you to honor him and of course the Pele Yo'eitz who refers to Chazal that one should be like R' Gamli'eil and respect ' KOl ADAM and the sages who sought to find something special in people so they could honor them, also if someone has some attribute or thing better than you , you must honor him , not just have ' derech eretz'.

sources: I have no problem in learning from any source, exploring it , examining it, being critical etc. and thank that Hashem has been directing me to authors that are interesting , stimulating and make a contribution to my parenting. Looking forward to stimulating discussion based on research, insights etc from whatever source - check the content


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43. one can?     9/18/07 - 10:30 AM
M

One can easily differentiate being treated with Kavod or with derech eretz, they are different.

I don't find it easy. In fact, I don't understand the difference. Perhaps you can explain, with examples.

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