Thursday, 6 June 2013

Jealousy- Korach

As soon as Shabbat ended, I started teaching parashat Korach. It went something like this:
"This week's parasha is called 'Korach'."
"We should make yummy sugar almonds like Aaron's staff," Gabi piped up. Right. From the title, she remembers the entire parasha and the project we did a year ago. That is why things must be different this year.
"Oh, yah. I remember those. They were yummy," Cohava agreed.
I should make some for dessert.

We talked at length about what fueled Korach's behavior. Jealousy! If you know a child, or any human, who never struggles with jealousy, I am impressed. Jealously is an emotion everyone experiences from time to time.
"Is it ok for a person to think, 'Wow, Moshe is amazing!'" I asked the girls.
"Yes, because Moshe is amazing," Cohava agreed.
"What about, 'I want to be just like Moshe!'?" Cohava nodded. Gabi looked uncertain. "I think it is ok to feel that way," I clarified. "But what about, 'I want to hurt Moshe so I can be where he is?'"
"Definitely not!" Gabi exclaimed.
"Right. You should try not to think it, but you definitely shouldn't do it." Then I re-ran the whole scenario but replacing 'Moshe' with 'Gabi or Cohava'.
They got it in theory. But actualizing it, overcoming jealousy, is not so easy.

"Jealousy is when you count someone else's blessings instead of your own" is a quote I like. In order to help the girls count their own blessings, our project of the week revolved around self-appreciation and affirmations.

At dinner one night, I asked the girls to reflect on their 'blessings' what they are very good at. To get the ball rolling I explained how Gabi's memory is a special gift she has from Hashem.
"I remember things too," Cohava remarked. And as we went on, this jealousy became a struggle. I tried very hard to make them name different things.
"I am a good artist," Cohava remarked.
"Me too," Gabi chimed in.
"True, you do both make beautiful pictures. Gabi, please use your fork to eat."
"I am a good listener," Cohava added.
"Me too!"
"Gabi, if you are a good listener, why aren't you using a fork?"

A few days later, I gave the children photo frames with very large frames. On cardstock I had written some of their 'special talents'. With a bottle of glue, their talent words, and some sequences, they got to work decorating.
Really the frames could not hold all of the wonderful things about my girls. Their brachot from Hashem are really unending.
 But it is a start. One day I might do something like this 101 Affirmations for Children. Building the self-esteem and self-worth of our children is crucial.  And for everyone around us.

The midrashim in this parasha depict two contrasting women. Korach's wife's tells him that he is worthless compared to the leadership, that unless he puts them down, he amounts to nothing. With those messages coming from home, he is drive to his heinous behavior and it is no surprise that the punishment involves his entire household being consumed by the earth.

When Korach begins rallying followers, Onn Ben Pelet is mentioned as one of his supporters. But Onn is not one of the punished. The midrash is that his wife said, "Moshe is your teacher and you are his pupil. If Korach is in charge, you would still be a pupil." 'Value who you are. You aren't going to change, you need to value yourself for who you are.' She deters Korach and the other mutinous men from speaking to her husband.
We need to do everything we can to build up ourselves and everyone around us to value our own wonderful worth and count all of our brachot from HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

 Shabbat Shalom!


  1. Cute idea. Nice to get the children to shower specific words of praise and naming specific words for each other.

    1. Thanks so much. You are right. It is more meaningful if others can articulate what makes you special. If done right it could be a very powerful classroom activity.