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How do I reprimand someone?

Thursday, 16 December, 2021 - 9:57 pm

Parents at times need to redirect their child. Sometimes in telling them they did something wrong, at other times, to give them guidance to not do the wrong thing.

Jacob is on his deathbed and calls for all his children. He starts to give them guidance for how they should live and reprimands them for mistakes they made.

How did Jacob’s children react? Rashi comments that "Because he rebuked the first three tribes in harsh terms Judah began to move away... Jacob therefore recalled him with words that would soothe him…”

Every story in the Torah has a relevant lesson for us. What is the message for us from this story? How do we guide our children on the correct path?

When you look at the conversation Jacob had with his children, it wasn’t one on one but all of them together. Judah heard the rebuke given to his older brothers, and they in turn heard the blessings of the younger children. Even though he calls out each one, the messages were to all of them. Most of the conversation is blessings and positive reinforcement while giving clarity of the standards and expectations of what it means to be ‘the children of Israel’.

When we need to rebuke someone, do we ask ourselves first if our standards and expectations are clear?

When we need to reprimand someone, do we ask ourselves if we are willing to have a 3-1 ratio, with more praise?

I am still in this process of "Rabbi"ing and parenting. I am still learning and far from perfect. But I think this is a good start.

What do you think?

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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