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Favorite Jewish Texts that Lead to Better Communication and Better Parenting

Compiled by Mishpacha Coordinators Sarah Lauing and Lisa Berney

Miyut Sichah (Minimizing the Conversation)

Say little and do a lot. (Pirke Avot 1:15)

“The wise man does not speak before him that is greater than he in wisdom;
He does not break into his fellow’s speech.
He is not in a rush to reply.
He asks what is relevant and replies to the point.
He speaks of first things first and of last things last.
Of what he has not heard he says, “I have not heard,”
And he acknowledges what is true.
And the opposites apply to the clod.” (Pirke Avot 5:9)

Quiet yourself there’s nothing to say
Stop all the chatter that gets in the way
Listen, listen to our God

When the wind and the thunder finally disappear
there’s still a voice that you will hear
If you listen, listen to our God (from “Listen” by Doug Cotler)

Emet (Being Honest and Truthful)

“Those who deal deceitfully shall not live in My [God’s] house; those who speak untruth shall not stand before my eyes.” (Psalms 101:7)

“People should not say one thing with their mouths, and something else with their hearts.” (Talmud Baba Metziah 49a)

“To avoid insulting someone, you are allowed to tell a white lie.” (Sefer Hasidim)

Shema (Listening)

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad – Listen Israel (or all who struggle to understand) Adonai is our God, Adonai Alone.

While hearing is simply receiving, listening is an active form of communication. By engaging in certain actions — nodding our heads, making eye contact, leaning in—we show others that we are present for them in that moment. Rather than thinking about how we will respond, we can focus completely on the other person, understanding their needs. We can offer them our “precious presence.” By listening with the intent to understand, we are responding “henaynu” (“we are here”).

Lashon HaRa (Avoid Gossiping)

The story of Miriam (Num 12:1-15)

A Story: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers.”

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