A central goal in developing middos is to value peace, to avoid hurting others, and to avoid conflict by being mevater (conceding) to the other person.  Likewise, the key role that being a “giver” (a נותן) plays in good relationships is emphasized in all frum marriage guidebooks. This is very understandable since being a self-centered “taker” (a נוטל) will most certainly destroy relationships.  It is not surprising, therefore, that many people conclude that the more giving people are the better their relationships will be, without an upper limit. In truth, however, any positive attribute taken to the extreme becomes unbalanced and destructive.  This article will explore how “extreme giving” can undermine a relationship.

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Admonishing without destroying

A young couple become parents.  They begin to imagine all the positive and uplifting interactions they will have with their children.  Admonishing and criticizing children is most likely not part of this blissful scene.  Unfortunately, the reality of life and the chinuch obligations of parents soon intrude and require parents, on occasion, to correct, reprimand and admonish (i.e., give “tochacha” to) their children.  However, when they try to implement these measures they often find their efforts to be ineffective at best or counterproductive at worse.  Yet it is clear that we are halachically obligated at times to admonish our fellow man and to guide and correct our children.

This article will explore how chazal look at the issue of reprimanding and admonishing – particularly regarding chinuch – and their advice on how to maximize its positive impact and minimize the likelihood of it backfiring.

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Is self-esteem synonymous with gaavah?

In a March 2011 issue of Hamodia Magazine, a writer who described himself as a “Yeshiva high school teacher and life coach” wrote an article titled “The Self-Esteem Mirage.”  In this article, the author states: “The self-esteem movement is exactly the opposite of everything the mussar masters teach.”   

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The Role of Parents in the Current Crisis of “Off the Derech” Adolescents

The problem of rebellious adolescents has become a major area of concern for the frum community.  Many articles have been written on this subject and it is rare for a community organization to hold a conference without workshops devoted to this topic.  While accurate statistics are not available, most educators and activists feel that the problem is growing at an alarming rate.  Many knowledgeable activists use the term “epidemic.”

This paper will review the items commonly mentioned as risk factors in frum children becoming rebellious (“going off the derech”).  I will demonstrate that there is a strong tendency – albeit with the best of intentions – to downplay the role of parents in this problem.  The reasons for this avoidance and how it can impede efforts to alleviate the problem will be explored.

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The Unintended Consequences Of Competition And Rewards In Educational Settings

In recent years the level of competitiveness and the use of contests and rewards to induce this competitiveness in our schools have increased dramatically. Every self – respecting school promotes a host of contests and competitive programs (e.g. middos contest, mishnayos baal peh ) often highlighting the thrill of being the best and the great prizes one can win more than the value of the task itself. While the benefits of these programs are fairly obvious, there are often unintended negative consequences that some people may be unaware of.

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Torah Perspectives on Boundaries, Restrictions and Sexuality

A significant portion of the Torah revolves around boundaries and restrictions. Many youngsters’ mental image of G-d and His rules can be described thus: A very powerful god, who for some mysterious reason, needs us to provide him with nachas by doing positive deeds, and who needs us to avoid transgressing his rules. If we break the rules we will incur his wrath upon us. In the worse case scenario the mental image of god will most closely resemble the gods of the ancient pagans who had no interest in morality or the welfare of people and were basically very powerful bullies whom one needed to appease in order to avoid getting “beaten up,” or worse.

Read More: Torah Perspectives on Boundaries & Restrictions