Family Guidance

If You Live it, You Can Give it

Live it give it 22.8.19
Now that America and Israel are back in sync as far as weekly Torah portions are concerned, we're happy to offer our readers some nutrition for the soul with a lesson from this week's portion Ekev:

It's a no-brainer that a parent smoking a cigarette can't tell a child not to smoke. A junk-food, sugar addict parent can't tell his/her child to eat healthy. A parent who perpetually breaks traffic laws can't tell his/her son or daughter to drive safely. The youth of this generation - rightfully so - despise hypocrisy. 

We read in this week's Torah portion, "You shall teach them to your children to talk about them, while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you lie down and when you arise." (Deuteronomy 11:19).

The Torah commands us to teach our children to "talk about them" – them, the words of Torah - constantly. We would think that the command should say, 'you shall teach them to your children to talk about them, while they sit in your home, while they walk on the way, when they lie down,' and so forth. This is the seemingly logical way of teaching our children to live a life of Torah values, by speaking about and internalizing Torah and its teachings from morning to night, in everything they do. Yet, surprisingly, the Torah instructs the parent to teach them to discuss Torah while he or she sits in the home, walks on the way, and the like. What's the message that the Torah is conveying here?

The Torah is telling the parent that education is not preaching – it's personal example. A child's innate sense of justice cannot stand hypocrisy and inconsistency. A parent who preaches one thing yet practices otherwise is guaranteed to obtain the opposite results.

In simple English, if you live it, you can give it: if you don't live it, you can't give it. Therefore, before a parent educates his child, he must educate himself.

The principle of "live it to give it" is evident in the above-cited passage. Hashem is telling us that the best way to teach our children to be immersed in Torah is when we ourselves are immersed in Torah. The Torah is saying, "while you sit in your home" and the subject of your discussion is Bava Kama and not the New York Times or WhatsApp, then you won't even have to tell your son to pick up a Gemara. When he sees that the Bava Kama is much more important to Daddy than the newspapers, he'll want to learn Bava Kama too.

The same goes for Mom and her daughters. When mom's Friday mornings are devoted to distributing challas that she baked to poor families, her daughter will undoubtedly follow in her footsteps and engage in acts of lovingkindness as well. But, when Mom's prime-time Friday mornings are devoted to the make-up specialists and clothes shopping, then the daughter will conclude from Mom's personal example that nothing in the world is more important than the latest fashion and the eye-shadow with the glittering sparkles, none of which have anything to do with modesty, holiness or serving Hashem. Maybe the daughter will be "Orthodox", but her head certainly won't be in spiritual endeavors and charitable deeds. Because of her material demands, her husband won't be able to devote much time to learning Torah, for he'll be chasing dollars...

Children have highest regard for parents, their chief role-models. As our sages teach, the deeds of parents are stepping stones for the children. If you live it, you can give it! Blessings for a lovely Shabbat! Yours always, LB


Togetherness and Good Health

Healthy Together 16.7
Does this sound familiar?

Your spouse or the someone you care about is overweight and sorely out of shape. Whenever he/she gets pressured by anything, they console themselves with chocolate croissants or donuts. You've tried everything to get them to diet and/or exercise, but even if they loses two pounds in one week, they'll gain back four the next. What do you do? You're trying your very best not to look at attractive members of the opposite sex, but with your partner more and more turning you off, it's getting to be increasingly challenging...

The above scenario is a compendium of real ones that I deal with in personal, health and fitness coaching. The more I've been hearing such stories, the more I felt the need to lay out a few guidelines that will likely help you and your spouse to improve your quality of life, physical and emotional health and relationship as well. Try implementing the following suggestions:

  1. Your prayers for your spouse are formidable, much more powerful than you can ever imagine. Invest a few minutes of prayer for them in your own words. Ask the Almighty to uplift their self-esteem and to help you give them the love and attention that they need so that they won't have to find solace in sweets, which are poison for the body.
  2. Buy your spouse a gift of a new pair of walking shoes and take walks together; start with a few minutes and work it up to an hour, at least three times a week. If you have small children, it's worth it to pay a babysitter during this hour. You can't imagine what it will do for your health and relationship.
  3. Diet never helps. You must influence your spouse to change their thinking and lifestyle, but this should be done as a couple, for they'll be much more willing if it's done together. Cakes, cookies, ice-cream and other sweets as well as soft-drinks and other sugary manufactured foods should be considered taboo, for these substances destroy health. Together, go on an eating regiment (lifestyle, not diet!) that is based on foodstuffs that are unadulterated by manufacturers. Get all white sugar, corn syrup solids and modified starches out of your life - that includes cereals, cakes, cookies and most manufactured foods. Compensate with the best fruits, veggies, fish, meat and poultry, and cheeses. Once you lower carbs, you can enjoy nuts and seeds without worrying about gaining weight.
  4. Like all of us, your spouse thrives on love. Make the first move and give him/her that love, and I promise that they'll bend over backwards to please you. Meanwhile, offer your spouse the incentive of a nice chuck of money to buy new clothes every time they drops a size or two. The new clothes will cost only be a fraction of doctors and meds required for treating the ailments that result from neglecting diet and health.

Start with the above four steps and keep me posted. I'd love to reprint your success stories. Remember, togetherness is the beginning of good health and real happiness. You'll be amazed to see how soon, you'll look like a magazine cover couple. My prayers for your success and good health. Blessings always, LB


Hubby Wants a Handout

Handout 19.6
Dear Rabbi Brody,

My wife is a remarkable person. She’s responsible with money and our house is always in decent shape, in other words, there’re never dirty dishes in the sink by the end of a day and things always look presentable. Just one thing makes me really miserable. My wife is an artist, and she spends hours on end in front of the canvas. I feel like she pours her entire heart out in her paintings, and there’s nothing left for me. I’d like to walk or talk in the evenings, but right after dinner, she’s back down in our basement (her studio) painting away until the wee hours. I feel really neglected, especially now that all our kids are married and out on their own. Please give me some advice, because I’m getting more and more resentful of my wife’s painting and our marital peace is eroding – I can feel it. With appreciation for your taking the time to read this, HJ from New Jersey

Dear HJ,

You’ve given me a lot of info, between the lines too. But, be happy – G-d willing, with a little fine tuning, your situation will soon be much better.

First of all, have you thanked Hashem for your marvelous blessings? Do you know how many people complain to me that their wives are either slovenly, or spendthrifts, or both? By your admission, your wife is both careful with money and a good housekeeper. That’s magnificent, and you should truly be thankful.

Second, many people have unbelievable shalom bayit (marital peace) breakdowns when they’re suddenly left alone with no more kids at home. So many husbands and wives drive each other crazy. Yet, your wife has found a lovely emotional release of oil painting. That too is a blessing! The love she used to pour into her children’s souls when they’d come home from school every day is now being poured into the paintings. I’m sure that her paintings are most expressive.

Wait, HJ, that’s not all: your wife is not leaving the house for hours a day, testing your imagination as to her whereabouts. She’s home. She’s not at the country club neglecting her home, nor at the shopping mall squandering your money.

So here’s the bone of contention – you want the love and attention that the paintings are getting. In the meanwhile – as long as you lack that love and attention – you’re getting more and more resentful. Let’s see how that affects your marriage:

Practically, HJ, you’re in line for a handout from your wife. According to Kabbala, you are now a female, because in a relationship, the man must give and the woman receives. That’s how Hashem created the world. Procreation is accomplished by the man giving and the woman receiving. Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai says that the husband is the sun and the wife is the moon. She has no light of her own, so he must shine light on her. So if you want to receive, HJ, you are playing the spiritual role of a woman; two women can’t get along in the same kitchen…

Since you are not shining light on your wife – only resentment – she looks for light in her paintings. They smile back at her.

Now, let’s move over to the positive mode. Don’t wait for a handout from your wife. If you want light, go to the Torah – she’ll shine infinite light on you. Go speak to Hashem in personal prayer – He’ll listen to your every word like the most loving Father he is and He’ll give you all the attention you need. Torah and personal prayer are the place to fuel up emotionally and spiritually. Your head should be in a tractate of Gemara and not into your wife’s daily routine. Give her space, especially since she’s such a good wife.

Instead of resentment, take interest in her art. Go downstairs to the studio and bring her a cup of her favorite tea while she’s painting. Compliment her and take genuine interest in what she’s doing. You’re not going to beat her, so join her! Take her to an art gallery on Sunday and for a walk in the park afterwards. Smile at her and never frown. Give her the light and she’ll soon be enchanted by you. Suggest topics for her to paint. Proudly frame her best paintings and hang them in the most prestigious wall of your home. Give her the love and lavish her with attention and I guarantee you that you’ll get it back with big dividends!

With blessings and prayers for your success, LB


The Love Barometer

Love Barometer 31.5
Dear Rabbi Brody,

I'm one of your non-Jewish readers, but since I consider you both my health and spiritual coach, I depend on you for body-soul guidance. So first of all, thanks to you for opening your heart and for being there for me, and thank you for your lovely new website. You have an uncanny way of writing and saying what I always need to hear.

Here's my issue: I've been dating someone for 6 weeks, and he already says that he loves me and wants to marry me. He seems special, but this is really too fast for me, and to be honest, my head is more than a little bit in the clouds. On the other hand, I'm afraid of losing this dude. What do I do?

Sincerely, Connie from Southern USA

Dear Connie,

“He already says that he loves me…” - Real love is only possible after marriage, when the two partners have a mutual commitment and a common goal. What people in today’s world refer to as “love” is basically nothing more than animal urges and Hollywood-style flash-in-the-pan infatuation that is ever so short-lived as soon as those urges are temporarily satisfied. To be candid, lust is not love, and many people discover this only after they’ve been badly hurt and taken advantage of. I don’t want that to happen to you, Connie.

At any rate, you can try this "love barometer" on your boyfriend - it's simple and foolproof:

1) How often does he think about you: Once a day, once an hour, once a minute? This is reflected better by deeds (notes, phone calls, text messages, small acts of kindness, little presents, etc.) than by words.

2) Ask him if he knows what makes you happy and what makes you sad. If he answers that he can't possibly know the answer because he doesn't know you well enough, then his proclaimed love for you is none other than an illusion. How can he love what he doesn't know?

3) Is he a good listener? Does he value the things you say and treat you with respect? Don't confuse lustful flattery with respect.

4) When he speaks to you, close your eyes and listen to his voice: Is there friendship, kindness, and compassion in that voice, or only lust? Don't let physical attraction overwhelm your good judgment.

5) Is he interested in your family background? Is he interested in meeting your parents and taking you home to meet his? This is a sure-fire sign of an individual with serious and honorable intentions. On this point, if he passes the test so far, I urge you to meet his parents and other people who are close to him. One’s family and friends can oftentimes say quite a bit about a person.

6) Does he talk to you about his goals, dreams, and aspirations? Are they materially oriented or spiritually oriented? Can you identify with them?

In picking a partner for life, you're better off using your brain than your heart. Is the person kind and considerate? Is he even-tempered? Is he decent? Is he dependable? Is he modest? Does he come from a family with healthy interpersonal relationships? Do you have a common goal? In order to make a decision, you need to do some serious homework and check out this guy.

Once again, meet his parents. If he has a connection with a clergyman, by all means make an appointment with that clergyman. Talk to his friends and acquaintances. Speak with his roommates or colleagues. Make sure there are no skeletons in the closet like substance, gambling, or porno addictions. You'll be saving yourself from unpleasant surprises and raising your chances for future success.

Don't worry - if he really cares about you, you won't lose him in the extra few weeks that you’ll need to be doing your legwork and homework. If he's only trying to use you for a good time, then let him walk and good riddance. Whatever you do, don't let meaningless coffee-house expressions of love make your head spin.

Connie, the most important effort in finding the right mate is prayer - the more the better. Keep me posted. Blessings and smiles always, LB


The Citrulline Fertility Secret

Watermelon 20.5
Here is wonderful news for folks with fertility issues. Put aside the expensive pills and meds and try something natural from the Almighty's garden - watermelon, and watermelon rind. Yup, the rind is full of fantastic fertility-fortifying amino acids citrulline and arginine as shown by conclusive USDA research. In fact, the name citrulline is derived from the Latin word citrullus, which means watermelon.

Many fertility and fertility-functional problems both in men and women can be traced to a lack of the amino acids citrulline and arginine.

In the urea cycle, citrulline combines with another acid to create arginine. Luis Pons of the USDA writes that arginine not only boosts fertility, but boosts muscle growth, improves wound healing, combats fatigue, stimulates the immune system, cures impotence and fights cancer. Pillar Health Care goes even further and says that arginine can benefit women by increasing the cervical mucous, enhancing libido, promoting a healthy environment for implantation and may even extend fertility for women over 40. Sperm health is also affected by arginine; one study showed a 250%-plus increase in sperm amounts and motility in most study participants. It also enhances male reproductive-functional problems, so much so that scientists at Texas A&M University have termed watermelon as "nature's Viagra". 

Need I add more? Start eating watermelon - it's in season now!

Here's an Brody-Health Fertility enhancer "smoothie" that both men and women can try: don't forget to invite us to your son's brit or your daughter's Kiddush, which will be soon, G-d willing. Just drink this smoothie two to three hours before bedtime and don't forget to ask Hashem to make it work for you:

Rabbi Lazer's Fitness Fertility Smoothie

2 Cups (approx. 500cc) mineral or filtered water

2 Cups watermelon rind (make sure that there are no bugs on the surface)

5 large pitted Medjool dates (or 10 small pitted dates)

26 dried almonds

1 level teaspoon of cinnamon powder

2 tablespoons dried shelled sunflower seeds

Preparation: Mix until smooth in a high-speed blender (approx. 90-120 seconds). Drink at least one big cup of the mixture. Any leftover holds up fine in the fridge for 48 hours. Enjoy! And don't forget to send me the birth announcement...


Parental Attention and ADHD

Attention and ADHD
A father was wheeling a baby carriage with one hand and text-messaging with his other hand. Totally absorbed in his smartphone, he didn't hear the pleas of his 5-year old walking alongside, "Daddy, I'm cold!" A sudden strong wind blew in from the southwest, carrying heavy rain clouds and reducing temperatures suddenly. It now started raining. The little boy was screaming, "Daddy, I'm wet!" Heaven forbid that daddy should put down his idolPhone VI. Instead, he let go of the carriage, and with his free hand, he angrily pulled out a child's parka from the baby carriage tote-bag and slapped it on the little boy. Were it not for Hashem, the baby carriage could have easily rolled into the street...

Don't be surprised if down the road, in a few short years, the little boy and his baby brother or sister will be sent home from school with notes from the school psychologist that they have ADHD and must now take Ritalin.

In my experience of counseling parents on child-rearing issues, I've found a strong correlation between kids diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and lack of attention at home. Lack of attention is not a genetic disorder; it's the result of parents with skewed priorities. You don't have to be a PhD in psychology to know that a lack of attention leads to an attention deficit...

In quite a few cases pertaining to their children, parents asked for my opinion after school counselors and educational psychologists had not only prescribed Ritalin, but stipulated that the child's continued attendance at their school was contingent upon his taking the drug every day. I asked parents to delay the use of the drug while first planning a program of maximum parental one-on-one quality time. Each program was tailor-made for the particular parent and child.

The results, with Hashem's loving grace, have been superb. In general, I urge parents to invest "one-on-one" time, where the the parent gives total attention to the so-called ADHD child, with no other siblings around. For example, a father takes the son on a hike in the woods for 2 or 3 hours, once a week, and together they learn about trees, rocks, and birds while also doing personal prayer together. A mother might take her daughter for a lengthy exercise walk & talk, or they might shop together or bake bread together. The one-on-one quality time with a parent calms a child, elevates his self-image, and does wonders for his inner joy, which is ever so important in enhancing the child's attention span and thought process.

In other cases, I've seen schools who are especially trigger happy with Ritalin; as a result, I suggested that the parents transfer the children elsewhere. In several cases, I even recommended homeschooling.

By implementing the above advise in a systematic and persevering manner, many parents have rendered the use of Ritalin superfluous. Sure, many other parents protest that they lack the time to invest in their children. Priorities, folks... In the end, they ending up wasting more time running to school counselors, doctors and psychologists, not to mention the money involved either.

One of our readers sent me the following poignant anecdote to bring the point home:

A 5-year-old boy asked his Daddy one day, “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”

His father was quite peeved and said, “What business is it of yours?” The little boy persisted, so in the end, the father said, “Well, if you must know, I make $25 an hour”.

“In that case,” said the little boy, “can I have $9?”

The father was furious. He told the little boy to go and sit quietly in his room. Eventually he calmed down, and thought to himself, 'well, maybe my son had a good reason to ask for $9, because he doesn’t ask me for money often'. So he went to see his son, and told him, “Perhaps I was too hard on you earlier, and I am going to give you that $9”. When he gave it to him, he saw his son take a number of bills from under his pillow, and add the $9 to it. The father was surprised. “If you had all that money already”, he said, “why did you ask me for more?”

“Well”, said the boy, “ I did not have enough money before. But now I do. Can I buy an hour of your time?” Ouch...

Think about it. Our children are precious little souls that the Almighty has entrusted in our care. They deserve our love and undivided attention; they don't deserve to be second-fiddle to a cursed smartphone, especially when they have to pay the price of ADHD and Ritalin.