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Lend an Ear

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The Torah portion of Vayakhel describes the enthusiastic response of the Jewish people to the call to donate material to build a sanctuary for G-d.  They eagerly brought their gold, silver, copper and other precious materials to serve this sacred purpose.  So great was their desire that they actually exceeded the necessary quota–to the extent that Moses had to plead with the people to stop bringing.

The Tabernacle is actually a prototype for the sanctuary that every family creates within its own home.  Just as the Tabernacle served as a dwelling for G-d, so do our private homes become a haven for G-d when they are permeated with love, devotion and concern.  The Jewish people in the desert set the tone for all of us to indicate how to build our homes to be a G-dly sanctuary.

Although men, women and children alike shared in the contribution, the women displayed particular alacrity and devotion in bringing gifts for the sanctuary.  They dedicated not only their most precious jewelry and possessions, but also their time, talent and energies. Just as in the time of the desert, Jewish women throughout history have placed themselves at the forefront of the sacred task of building the sanctuary for G-d within every home. Although both parents share in this tremendous undertaking, the women set the tone for the household with their inherent divine gifts. They eagerly donate their particular “jewelry”–their insights, talents and creativity–to tune in to the needs of their children and families.

There were four types of jewelry donated for the Tabernacle:  earrings, nose rings, finger rings, and arm bands.  The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, in an address to Jewish women, elaborates on the symbolic meaning of each type of ornament.

Earrings: Lend an Ear

Tune in when your children speak.  Let them know that you are really there for them.  Listen up, too, when they are speaking with each other.  Their talk will reflect what they are picking up from the people around them. Also be receptive to good, sound parenting advice and guidance.  The more guidance you are willing to accept from others, the more your children will be willing to accept from you.

Nose Rings: Use Your Nose

Be alert to subtle signs of unhappiness or rebellion in your child.  Be aware of with whom your children are spending their time, and what they are doing together.  Wholesome friends and productive activities will mold a healthy personality.

Finger Rings: Point Things Out

Observation alone (via “ears” and “nose”) is insufficient to raise a healthy, secure child. Use your finger to clarify things for your child, and to give guidance and direction.  Show the children that your advice is based on concern for their welfare, and that you are aware of their issues and needs.  Don’t simply give orders; your children will be far more receptive to your words if you explain things on their level.

Arm Bands: Strong-Arm Tactics?

The arm-band symbolizes the forcefulness and strength necessary for bringing up children.  A parent must be pro-active.  Don’t just step in after the child has already misbehaved.  A parent should be striving to stay ahead of the game, to anticipate trouble spots and to thoroughly know the child’s character.  There is also the inner discipline that is demanded of a parent.  Before you discipline your child, discipline yourself.  Children respond to the example that the adults around them set.  Put as much energy as you can into parenting; this will yield children with character and vitality, who will eagerly embrace a meaningful way of life.

Remember, above all, that the gifts you give to your home and children are your personal, voluntary donation. Never let parenting become a ritual obligation or cumbersome duty. Give gladly, generously, and with a full heart.  Your personal sanctuary will blossom under the caring touch that only you can provide.

Based an address of the Rebbe[1]

Adapted by by Chaya Shuchat


[1] Based on an address by the Rebbe in Likkutei Sichos, vol. 26, pp 262-271; and the Previous Rebbe’s visit to Riga, Adar 5694, printed in Likkutei Dibburim, vol.3, and Kovetz Chof Beis Shevat, pp. 7-10

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