Editorial 29th June 2023

Dear Parent

It seems to be the wedding season, with many joyous celebrations before the “three weeks” begin next Thursday.

Imagine, bleary eyed, you bump into a friend the morning after a wedding.

“Wasn’t it lovely?!” you say to your friend. The reply is a curt “the music was too loud!” or “the main course was cold!”

That’s it? What about everything else? The atmosphere? The company? The speeches? The food? The joy of seeing a young couple set off in life together? And so much more.

Negative people have a tendency to zero in on the negative and overlook anything positive.

Parshas Balak, the second parsha of this week’s double billing – Chukas Balak, is an intriguing parsha and, as ever, there are many timely and relevant lessons to learn, particularly applicable to parenting and chinuch.

Balak hires Bilam to curse the Jewish people. He acknowledges that whoever Bilam blesses is blessed and whoever he curses is cursed. The Seforno explains that actually Bilam did not have the ability to bless and Balak was just flattering Bilam. In fact, Bilam was a deeply critical and negative person who could only curse.

This is alluded to in the description of Bilam being “shesum ha’ayin”. He had a very limited and critical vision. This is also why the Torah highlights that Bilam always targeted his curse on “miktzas ha’am” – part of the people. Negative people zero in on part; positive people see the total picture.

Good parents and mechanchim have to catch their children and students doing good things and praise them lavishly for it. Good parents and mechanchim have to act blind occasionally. Of course there is a time for criticism but it is all too easy to overlook the good or just expect it.

I encourage members of the Kodesh Teaam to make “nachas phone calls” every Friday. Just two a week, with the sole goal of telling parents something positive their child did that week. I think I enjoy making these calls as much as the (sometimes astonished!) parents who receive them.

It is said that the world is made up of two types of people, radiators and drains. Some people infuse energy and radiate positivity, and some people just drain and sap vitality from any situation.

Being positive and looking for life’s silver linings, makes for good parenting and good chinuch. 

Good Shabbos 

Rabbi J Golker