Shavua Tov, friends! Racheli here, and I am sooooo excited! Today is the first day of school!!! YES!! While it may be borderline torturous for us to get our kids out the door and into the classroom during the first several days, isn't it truly one of the happiest days of a parent's life? Well, for me it is. Wait - a phrase just popped into my head, and I hope I'm remembering it correctly. I think it goes: the two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells his boat. Is that right? Here's my version: the two happiest days of a parent's life are the day he becomes a parent and the day he marries his child off. Is that right, too? Shame on me. Seriously.
As I was counting down the minutes on Shabbat to my long-awaited freedom, which I really shouldn't have been doing, I thought about my Summer of Suffering. Granted, it was only three weeks of suffering, as the Charedi school system only has a three week summer vacation. I don't know about you, but that right there is enough of a reason for me to be Charedi. Why do kids need two months off from school? So they can drive their parents insane? So here was my flash of insight: all suffering comes to an end.
Just like all good things come to an end (I'm full of outdated phrases today, no?) so, too, all bad things must come to an end. Nobody suffers forever - not in this world and not in the next world. Of course, during such trying times, we feel like time has stopped, or at least gone on vacation to Tahiti. Why did Time not take us with him? Don't we also deserve a vacation, especially since we're going through such difficulties?
Here are two points to remember if you're going through some major, heavy-duty suffering: 1) every moment of pain is a spiritual atonement and soul correction. If we could see how much our suffering cleans us up, we'd welcome it with a "Bring it on!" 2) talk to Hashem! Were any of you stubborn children that didn't listen to your parents the first time they told you to do something, so they had to yell at you or shake you by your shoulders? Maybe they had to punish you in order to get the message across? That's called tough love, and sometimes Hashem has to use the same tactics. Do a soul accounting and figure out what you're doing that's detrimental to your spiritual well-being. And please don't tell me that you're not doing anything wrong.
Reincarnation is one of the foundations of Judaism; as such, we have to look at each life like it's a chapter in our book of lifetimes. We don't know how everything fits together. But we have to believe that there is a bigger picture. Watch Rav Brody's awesome emuna lesson, Life After Death. It'll help you put everything you're going through in a different perspective.
Zaidie Lazer learning Torah with grandson Yaacov Yosef Brody from Jerusalem (photo from 2008)
One of my biggest joys in life is grandchildren at my Shabbat table...
Whenever Zaidie (grandfather) Lazer Brody gets together with his grandchildren, we sing a moving song that comes from a woman's prayer after lighting Sabbath candles. Many young couples also say this prayer on their wedding day:
"May I merit to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and discerning, who love Hashem and fear G-d, men of truth, holy seed, clinging to Hashem, and who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and all the work of serving the Creator."
It's our family custom to sing this lovely melody at the Bar Mitzvas of my grandsons, three generations with three-part harmony.
Baruch Levine composed this melody, and performs it ever so beautifully. Enjoy! May you have nothing but happy occasions in your family, and joy from your offspring, a wonderful Shabbat, amen!
Five years ago, I wrote an article Diet and Child Temperament on Breslev Israel that the right diet is oftentimes enough to solve the problem of ADHD. People don't realize that the same folks who tell you what's safe to eat and what's not - the ACSH (American Council on Science and Health) - are heavily funded by Monsanto, Pfizer, Merck, Coca Cola, Pepsi Coal and other white-collar corporate junkies who want to poison our children with empty carbs, sugars and GMO's, then label them ADHD and feed them Ritalin for the rest of their lives (please read "Shedding Light on Genetically Engineered Food" by Dr. Beth Harrison).
In addition to the problem of faulty nutrition, many so-called educational specialists misinterpret a child's inability to sit still for 8 hours as ADHD, when in actuality, the child is a kinesthetic learner. Kinesthetic learners need to move around and work manually with ideas. They touch things a lot. Smells and textures are important. They get bored just sitting still in class just listening. The more activity they experience while doing a skill, the better they learn it. I myself was a classical kinesthetic learner; I didn't swing from the rafters like hyperactive kids did, but I would daydream and doodle all day long, completely out of focus with what was going on in class. My best subjects were botany and biology, where there was much hands-on lab work. If your child is a Kinesthetic learner, do what King Solomon says - educate him according to his talents, aptitudes and particular style of learning ( see Proverbs 22:). Don't be trigger happy to shoot your child down with negative labels.
I'm happy to introduce you to a brother-in-arms, Dr. Josh Axe, MD, fitness expert and doctor of functional medicine. Doctor Josh himself was labeled as ADHD as a child - that didn't stop him from becoming one of the tops in his field. This vid is a must-see for parents, or for anyone who thinks he/she suffers from ADHD: Before you reach for the Ritalin, got the processed foods and the white sugar out of your child's diet - give him a teaspoon of fish oil or cod liver oil in the morning.
Now, let's listen to Dr. Josh's advice - it's spot on:
There was once a Ukranian peasant who worked all day long in the hot sun harvesting potatoes. At the end of the day, he looked inside his sack and lo and behold, there were only a dozen or so potatoes. Where'd they all go? He looked behind him and saw a trail of potatoes along the entire length of the field where he had been picking. What happened? There was a hole in the sack! Every time he put one potato in the sack, another potato fell out of the hole...
In recent years, I've sometimes felt like that peasant. We travel around the globe devoting our lives to bringing people closer to Hashem, yet loads of kids born into observant families are falling off the derech, the way of Torah Judaism.
In my humble opinion, the "off-the-derech" kids are the number-one problem that the Jewish People face today, not Iran or ISIS...
The kids themselves are not the problem. Having done extensive research into the subject and having spoken to hundreds of such young people, I've come to the conclusion that the problem is rooted in three main causes:
The kids grow up in a home where the parents practice a stringent form of hellfire and brimstone Judaism, devoid of the joy that Judaism really offers.
The kids grow up in a home where the parents honor material and/or secular values more than they honor Torah values.
The kids never learn emuna, not from parents or teachers, so they have no motivation for Torah and mitzvoth, and no support system for life's challenges.
Fortunately, many of these young people are discovering emuna and the joy of their own personal relationship with Hashem by way of the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a, which Hashem has given me the privilege of spreading in the English-speaking world. It's our goal to sew up the hole.
I have a custom that I received from an old tzaddik: he told me that when you take your 3-year old to cheder (Orthodox Jewish elementary school for boys) on the first day, give the cheder rebbe (boys' elementary school teacher) a monetary gift (like a $50 bill) and ask him to pay special attention to your son. The old tzaddik told me that the gift to the cheder rebbe invokes Divine assistance for your son's Torah learning and it makes the rebbe happy as well, for cheder rebbes never earn the money they really deserve. So, whenever I am honored with the mitzvah of being sandek at a brit, I take responsibility for the child's initial success in Torah and I give the father of the baby an envelope with money inside and tell him to pass it on to the child's rebbe when the child goes to cheder for the first time at age 3.
With the above in mind, several years ago, I had the privilege of being sandek at the brit of David Mark's son in Maale Chever south of Hevron. David wrote me this spine-chilling email earlier this month:
...our son who you were sandek for, has grown up and is now in first grade. It was his rebbe that was killed a few weeks ago along with his son. It was hard for us as parents to go through that with him, but I saw that children really handle these things better than we do. His rebbe was an amazing person and it was to him in the beginning of the year that we gave the gift you had given us as his sandek that you told me to give to his future cheder rabbi. Rav Yaakov Litman was a tremendous Tzaddik. I wrote a eulogy for him here.
Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy"d (photo, above right), a beautiful human and a most wonderful cheder rebbe (elementary school teacher) was brutally murdered by Arab terrorists 6 weeks ago.
When we're faced with a problem that looks unsolvable, we should learn how our forefathers handled similar situations. Here's something very recent with a happy ending:
Dec. 25, 2015
Shalom Rabbi Brody.
It's Mrs. F. from NYC here. I have a question and any advice or guidance you can give me will be tremendously appreciated.
My oldest daughter Chavi is 7 years old (second grade). There is a girl in the class that she is constantly fighting with. They literally fight verbally and physically. This is going on for a few months already. The teachers tried implementing some positive reinforcements, but nothing helps. They are both tough kids and keep getting at each other's throats. Today the mother called me after school, and told me that my daughter shoved her daughter and made her fall down the steps (as a side note-my daughter came home crying that the other girl fought with her terribly today), and that something must be done; we must involve someone here. Now, it is true; my daughter - as precious and delicious as she is - is also a high-voltage child that could get aggressive when she plays or things don't go her way or highly anxious but only at home with her us and her brothers.
My question is as follows: aside from saying THANK YOU HASHEM FOR THIS WONDERFUL CHALLENGE, and asking Hashem for guidance when I (try) to my daily hour of personal prayer, am I supposed to do any form of hishtadlus (effort - LB) here like calling a professional and or take my daughter to get evaluated and maybe get approved for some sort of therapy they will provide? (in general, she plays nicely with other children- I have never seen her acting aggressively with the neighbors and we have plenty of girls all around. somehow this girl brings out the worst in her).
How do I deal with this other mother? Do I let her involve whomever she chooses and follow a plan she will come up with?
Thank you for always being here for us. Your encouragement and guidance with Hashem's help is what keeps us going!!! Mrs. F
B"H, Dec. 25, 2015
Dear Mrs. F,
Have a three-pronged plan like our forefather Jacob did before his historic confrontation with Esau - doron, tefilla, milchoma - he prepared to appease Esau with a gift, he prayed, and he prepared himself for war. The girls have already been having the war, so now you should pray to Hashem for peace and teach your daughter to do so also. As far as the gift goes, I suggest that you buy a nice gift for the other little girl, and you and your daughter go visit the girl and her mother and give them the gift - with Hashem's help, this will be a pleasant surprise for them that will surely make Shalom. My prayers for your success!
With blessings always, LB
Dec. 27, 2015
Rabbi Brody, I have no words to express my gratitude to you - your words gave us such clarity and peace. We bought a nice book for the other girl, my daughter met her and gave it over (she also added an adorable written card on her own). That other girl literally lit up! Now, the girls are begging for time to play together. Things are looking up. Thank you for your advice and for EVERYTHING! May Hashem bless you with good health and much nachas from your family until 120!! With much appreciation, Mrs. F