Dean's Letter Vayeishev

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,

Over the past few weeks, we celebrated several bar mitzvos and then most recently two weddings. All of these baalei simchah are dear to the school and have contributed so much over the years to our success. While preparing to address the chosson and kallah this week I came upon a message from the sefer Daas Torah that is most applicable to us as parents and teachers.

On every Yom Tov our Kohanim recite the special blessings of Bircas Kohanim. The berochoh they recite is vetzivonu levorech es amo Yisroel be’ahavoh. The language of be’ahavoh is not recited in any other berochoh; we simply don’t find with other mitzvos that there is a halochoh to recite the blessing with love.

The Mogen Avrohom, Ohr Hachaim 128:18 explains that in order for a berochoh to be effective there has to be a connection of love between the blesser and the one being blessed. The Malbim in Parshas Toldos explains that when Yitzchok wants to bless his bechor, Eisov, he asks him to prepare food for him baavur tevorechecha nafshi, “so that my soul will bless you.” Through these words, Yitzchok is sharing that his berochos will be enhanced when there is an uplifted connection to the one he is blessing.

Yitzchok was sharing with us a personal favorite axiom: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When there is extra love and a connection between the mevorech and nisborech, the blessing will be uplifted and come to fruition and will be long lasting. The Gemoro in Sanhedrin explains that the reason why Bilom’s blessings were not everlasting was because there was no connection between the one blessing and those who were being blessed.

In Bircas Kohanim the Kohanim read: ko sevorchu es Bnei Yisroel emor lohem. Don’t rush when blessing the people but rather recite the words with kavonoh and a full heart, helping to create a special bond and a loving connection.

This halochoh of Birkas Kohanim is a mesorah from our forefather Yitzchok and a template for all relationships, whether a chosson and kallah or educators and parents.

It is most interesting that when we take this special word of ahavoh recited by the Kohanim, we will find that the gematria of the word ahavoh equals echod, one. True love comes from a connection, when there is a oneness between husband and wife, teacher and talmid, and most certainly parent and child.

All human beings have a primary need to be validated and recognized for their efforts. Here are some practical suggestions on how to enhance our relationship with our children.

  1. Set aside a time for learning with each child even if it is a short amount of time.
  2. The original “Avos Ubanim” program was set up by a group of parents who felt that often children lack in their connection with their fathers due to their busy learning and work schedules. On Motzei Shabbos, Eretz Yisroel comes to a one-hour standstill as over 40,000 children from across the entire religious spectrum study with their parents for one hour. In a similar manner, our PHDS middle-school Mishmor program and the NERC Kol Hanaarim program create a special bond between father and son.
  3. When a mom allows her children to help prepare Shabbos or to prepare their own special dish, they are building a relationship that their children remember. This is especially true when the child’s signature dish is featured at the seudah.
  4. If a child shines in school by giving a speech or becoming an officer in Student Council, this is an opportunity to highlight their accomplishments.
  5. During the COVID shutdown a parent shared with us a variety of structured activities they directed in their home which kept everyone learning but also created that special relationship we speak of between her and her children.
  6. Make your Shabbos table a place where children can shine and recite a dvar Torah that they learned that week. The excitement generated for and by the children creates a great atmosphere as they wait for their turn to share their divrei Torah (not all at one meal).
  7. At times, when a child is struggling at school and the parents are frustrated after receiving a discipline referral, a successful parenting strategy is for us to validate and listen carefully to the child and then to help and guide the child to personally find a strategy to fix the problem.
  8. As an educator I have often asked both students and adults if they had a teacher who was their favorite. I then asked them for the quality that made the teacher their favorite teacher. In almost all cases it was the connection that the rebbe, morah, or teacher had with the student.

As we enter the Yom Tov of Chanukah, a holiday that focuses on family and togetherness, we remember that the Kohen’s berochoh is enhanced when the blessing is given be’ahavoh, with love. By using the suggestions above or the many other ones that you are currently using, we are investing in that special relationship with our children, where our love creates a bond described as echod, one. May we all be zocheh to success in our parenting and in reaping much nachas from our children.

Happy Chanukah,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman