Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Raising Cain

For the most part, I am pretty laid-back about speech. At the same time, I feel an obligation to raise my children to abide by socially accepted standards of speech. Other parents see red when their kids say "stupid"; it takes "retard" or "meshuggeneh" to make me mad. And I don't see anything wrong with hell (as long as you're not telling someone to go there).

But one of the words I am very strict about is "kill". I hear that word and it's trouble.

The other day, I hear my boys in an escalating argument. From what I can tell on my side of things, the argument is getting physical. I'm trying to ignore it because some fighting is part of the healthy, normal growth process (this according to the spousal unit). Okay. Then I hear it, that sign that the endless pruning of speech does have its effects:


I had to laugh.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Something to thank about

Gratitude is more than a popular argument for patriotism. It is the very foundation of any society. The Sefer Hachinuch, a 13th century work, sees gratitude as the foundation of all relationships, including belief in God. This view is adopted by many of the great thinkers of the Mussar movement. Indeed, in a gratitude free world, pessimism reigns. And pessimism is a harsh corrosive, with negativity about life in general infiltrating into, and undermining, all relationships. A marriage, a family or a community devoid of gratitude will certainly fall apart. Of course, this is true of a country as well.
Isn't it great that it got published? This is good stuff.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Sometimes I think that these parshios discussing our genealogy are there to remind us that our best and our brightest came not from what you'd call the best stock. It's not so much what you're given as where you take it.