Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

Is It OK To Tell Your Children They Are Safe?

telling kids they are safe

The Bible’s most oft-repeated words are “Do not fear.” Yet, in the wake of the horror in Connecticut, how can we not?

Five-and six-year old children were brutally murdered in what most thought was a safe and innocent place. Is it possible now to live without some measure of fear?

A Brave New World

This debate pervaded several sessions I led with parents and grandparents in my community this week. Often the discussion revolved around how to talk to children.

Is it okay to tell them they are safe? How do we protect them without misleading them?

As a parent of young children and as a rabbi, I struggled with this issue and benefitted from the wisdom and experiences I heard. Here are some of the ideas that resonated:

1.  Parents need to be the key communicators: Children have a unique relationship with their parents. Hearing the news first from friends or teachers or even grandparents is not ideal. Parents are usualy most attuned to their children’s feelings, and can present what happened and correct misimpressions in a way no one else can.

2. Remember to focus on the kids, not just yourself: We are all shaken up and devastated by what happened. We probably need to process our feelings and will deal with them for a while.

While some children share our feelings, they may get over it much faster. Kids’ primary focus is themselves, and as one Harvard psychologist pointed out, they may quickly move on to something that affects them more directlyl. That’s okay.

3. Honor their needs: While adults may understand and appreciate all the risks we face in life every day, children’s needs are dofferent. They need to feel a degree of safety that allows them to learn and function and grow. We need to remind ourselves and our children that acts of violence on this scale are exceedingly rare.

4. Talk about mental health: This is a hard one, especially for kids. We adults may even find it difficult and uncomfortable to talk about it. But we must.

The more we can talk about and recognize that some people have problems that aren’t physical but can still be treated, the more dignified and humane a society we will become.

5. Do not let fear get in the way of life: The Bible’s repeated injunction of “Do not fear” reminds us of how old and powerful fear can be. Sometimes it is a useful emotion. For example, we need to fear oncoming cars when we are crossing at the street.

At the same time, fear can be debilitating and destructive. Too often fear becomes the acronym I once heard: False Expectations AppearingReal.

We need to be pragmatic and protective of the most vulnerable members of our society. Yet, we also need the courage to live.

Let us take guidance from the wise words of the eighteenth-century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important part is not to be afraid.” 

By Evan Moffic,

Get Inspired. Make Better Decisions. Live With Fewer Regrets.

Get More from Rabbi Moffic, including A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS

God’s Tears Are Our Own: How To Respond to the Horror of the School Shooting in Connecticut

Franz Kafka tells the story of a little girl who was late arriving home one day. Her mother asked her where she was. The girl said that she saw her friend Ruthie on her way home, and Ruthie’s doll had broken.

“Did you help her fix it?” her mother asked. “No,” the girl replied, “I don’t know how to fix it. I stopped to help her cry.”

Shock

As we hear the news about the horrific school shooting in Connecticut, we can sympathize with Kafka’s little girl. We do not know how to fix, or even explain, the evil that causes a person to shoot innocent young children. We stand in shock, in pain, in bewildernment.

We turn to one another and ask “What can we do? How can we bring God’s healing presence into this moment?”

Collecting the Pieces

Perhaps we can take some guidance from the words of the 18th century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. He once saw a man whose house had burnt down. The man had been crying terribly about his losses.

As he began looking through the rubble, he found bits and pieces of wood and metal to start rebuilding. One by one he made a pile of pieces.

Rabbi Nathan said, “See how he is collecting pieces to rebuild. Even when we think there is no hope, we are already collecting pieces to rebuild.”

It will take a long time to collect the pieces we need to rebuild. With open hearts and ready hands, we need to start now.

By Evan Moffic,

Get Inspired. Make Better Decisions. Live With Fewer Regrets.

Get More from Rabbi Moffic, including A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS

http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

The Spiritual Wisdom of the Beatles

A favorite song to accompany brides down the wedding aisle is the Beatles’ “In My Life.” It’s a song about the past meeting the present. It’s a song about how the singer has been formed by all his past experiences in life.

Consider the lyrics: “There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better. Some have gone, and some remain. All these places had their moments. With lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some our dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

The Journey of Love

Of course, the point of the song is that all those experiences pale in comparison to the feeling of love he has now. Yet, part of the beauty and attraction of the song for many is the recognition that we are the result of our experiences in life. They shape us. They never leave.

As Faulkner put it, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Our lives are journeys shaped by the roads we have taken.

The Journey of Faith

Now in the Beatles song, the goal, the end point of the journey, is love of a particular person. For people of faith, the goal of the journey is a life of growth, of wisdom, of love of knowledge, truth and humanity. Ultimately, the goal is to learn and live by God’s ways, which, as the prophet Micah put it, are “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy god.”

This journey can be difficult. Like the ancient Israelites, we have to wander for many many years. And the longer we wander, the more we realize how far we still have to go.

This notion is captured in the recollection Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the great rabbis of the nineteenth century: “When I was young,” he said, “I wanted to change the world. I tried, but the world did not change. So I tried to change my town, but my town did not change. Then I turned to my family, but my family did not change. Then I realized: first I must change myself: and I am still trying.”

So are we all.

By Evan Moffic

GET A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS. http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

10 Life Lessons from Lincoln


I am no film critic, but Daniel Day Lewis’s mastery of Abraham Lincoln inspired me deeply. He captured a man filled not only with political skill and vision, but with a deep spirituality and understanding of the human condition.

In every book I read or film I see, I try to find sparks of spiritual wisdom. Lincoln provides them in spades. Here are my top ten:

1. Courage under fire: Lincoln faced relentless criticism from his opponents and those within his own party. He stayed attuned to his North Star, engaging with critics without losing his vision.

2. Compassion at all times: The film is filled with scenes of Lincoln reaching out to those who disagree with him, speaking to them with empathy and kindness.

3. Patience: Lincoln did not achieve all his objectives at one time. He kept his goal in mind, and each decision and action pointed to his final goal.

4. Resolve: Even with compassion and patience, Lincoln never gave up on his achieving the end of slavery. It would have been much easier settle for less, especially when his advisors suggested he do so. Like the greatest leaders in history, he did not.

5. The Power of Story: Lincoln tells stories throughout the film. At first, they seem unconnected to the issue at hand. Yet, by the time he finishes them, we see the wisdom they carry. Stories inspire in a way facts and figures cannot.

6. Humility: Lincoln did not let his position get in the way of working in the trenches. His objective was so important to him that he did what he needed to do without suggesting it was somehow beneath him.

7. Communication: Good ideas and goals left unexpressed mean little. The ability to communicate them, as Lincoln did so eloquently, makes all the difference.

8. Remember your ultimate purpose: One of the film’s most moving scenes is when General Ulysses S. Grant receives the defeated General Robert E. Lee with great dignity. The Union’s objective was not to humiliate the South, but to restore the Union.

9. Use power for the good, not for ourselves: The film makes much of the public popularity Lincoln enjoyed. He did not use that for selfish ends. He used it to end slavery and preserve the union. Wherever we are in life, we need to use the power we have for purposes larger than ourselves.

10. Find ultimate peace with ourselves and one another: The film’s closing scene shows Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Addresses, one of the great speeches in human history. He says those magnificent lines that defined his political and spiritual outlook, and which can guide us still:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,  let us strive on to finish the work we are in;

to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

By Evan Moffic,
Get Inspired. Make Better Decisions. Live With Fewer Regrets.
Get More from Rabbi Moffic http://bit.ly/U6pA1G

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