Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Nasso 76 - Raising ourselves and children to have Grace- Chein

Our portion-parasha deals with the Priestly Blessings- ברכת כהנים   where Aaron and his sons are commanded to bless the children of Israel saying to them …דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר כֹּה תְבָרֲכוּ אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָמוֹר לָהֶם:.                     After the listing of the 3 blessings, God in the Torah says – Let them – the Kohanim place MY Name upon the children of Israel and I shall bless them.  וְשָׂמוּ אֶת שְׁמִי עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאֲנִי אֲבָרֲכֵם: The obvious question is -  who is doing the blessing ? – we begin with an instruction by God to the Kohanim to bless the people and then God says …… so I can bless them. The answer is that when the Kohanim bless the nation, God will confer his own blessing on the children of Israel. The Kohanim are the instruments, the pipeline, through which God allows his blessing to rest upon Israel. The Talmud – Megilah tells us not to take lightly the blessing of even an ordinary man. His blessing has the ability to access God's abundance and with God's agreement bring blessing to someone's life. In the same way, parents bless their children using the script of the priestly blessing. Their love and devotion to their children is the conduit, a pipeline that channel's God's infinite blessing onto their children.The conduit or pipeline of the Kohanim is love and so they are commanded to bless God's people with love. It seems that God wanted man to participate in bringing His blessings and abundance into the lives of people. It is our caring, love and devotion expressed by acts of kindness and expressions of prayer and blessings for others that God wants. And so, He is willing to support us by allowing us to access His abundance and confer His blessings.

The first blessing is –' May God bless you and protect you'. יְבָרֶכְךָ יְדֹוָד וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ:  This is not a specific blessing but is  dependent on a person's wishes. The Sages suggest that this is a material blessing that needs protection from  thieves or bandits, that we should not spend our money to pursue materialistic goals, but use our wealth wisely and for spiritual purposes. We  should be protected from wealth itself or any other blessing so we don't become  arrogant or attached to money and forget God. In other words, we need protection and help to make sure that our blessings should not turn into curses.  The second blessing is – May God shine  his face upon you and give you grace.       יָאֵר יְדֹוָד פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ   This is a spiritual blessing where God's  light and presence becomes evident in us and is expressed by the grace or ' chein'  that people see  in us. This makes us people who have the quality of being attractive, liked and loved by others. People are drawn to us, and want to be in our company because they find us charming. The third blessing is - May God turns his face towards you and give you  peace. יִשָּׂא יְדֹוָד פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם: Because of God's special relationship with Israel, He will be more forgiving and support the establishment of peace between men, between the material and spiritual side of man so there will be  harmony within man and between man and God.

It is understandable that man must do his share - to ensure economic, spiritual and social progress, before God will give his support and blessings. The question is what can we do, besides acquiring more knowledge and understandings of God's ways, so we can raise ourselves and our children with grace and 'chein'- חן?

Although  we pray for grace  חנא   - that we have that quality that makes us loved by others together with the qualities of generosity, kindness – חסדא  and compassion – ורחמין , the Book of Proverbs 3:3-4 tells us that when  kindness and truth are the qualities  that guide our speech and the feelings of our heart, we  will find grace and good intellect in the eyes of God and man.חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת אַל יַעַזְבֻךָ קָשְׁרֵם עַל גַּרְגְּרוֹתֶיךָ כָּתְבֵם עַל לוּחַ לִבֶּךָ וּמְצָא חֵן וְשֵׂכֶל טוֹב בְּעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים וְאָדָם: When we do have grace, charm and חן  , we have to protect this blessing with values and the fear of God – שקר החן והבל היפי יראת ה' היא תתהלל – Proverbs 31:30 .Crooks, cheaters and con artists know how to use charm - חן to build and get  people's trust and confidance and then use it to cheat them. 

We should pray for our children and bless them every day. It is important to support their needs for autonomy, respect, unconditional acceptance, competence and ' relatedness', so they feel confident, supported,  have a sense of belonging,  and  are self-directed with a self-esteem that is solid and not dependent on outside approval. They also  have sense of purpose and a commitment to the well-being of  people and Torah values. We should be examples of grace-חן , in  our interactions with our children  and all other people and we should discuss and share  with them the qualities and behavior of individuals we and they know, who have a lot of grace - חן

Chein- grace and charm is a skill that helps you communicate and bond with people. You come across as a gentle, generous humble and unassuming, authentic, honest, positive, non-judgmental, patient, and a happy person who is genuinely glad to see the other person. You make them feel that they are the most important person in the world by giving them  your undivided attention and you are attentive to what they are saying. You look for agreement and validate their feelings and ideas, offering feedback and also sharing your insights. Charming people are more interested in hearing what others have to say and hear their perspectives and not getting their voice heard. They show curiosity and interest by  asking  open ended and sincere questions that makes it easier for the other person to answer in a more personal and introspective way. Grace is that quality which sees the best in others, including chein and charm. They seek the best for others and always are willing to do acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. Charming people are impressed by others and have no problem in offering compliments. They solve problems in a collaborative way addressing the concerns of others and look  for mutually satisfying  solutions.They have the confidence to admit their mistakes, and the courage to expose their vulnerability. They have a good sense of humor and don't mind being a source of laughter for others and themselves and laugh with you about something they said or did.  People find it easier to trust and connect to people who are willing to expose their vulnerability and show that they are not perfect.

We pray to God for the blessing of grace- חן for ourselves, our children and the whole community .We also need to make an effort that we and our children acquire the social skills and characteristics so we all can find grace and good intellect in the eyes of God and Man. We need to know that grace – חן   takes precedence and is more important than good intellect – שכל טוב.    The question is – where  is ' grace' education found   in our homes and schools? 

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