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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

The Truth About Syria

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If you are interested in reading more about Syria, you’re welcome to read my book The Truth About Syria online or download it for free.

WHY SYRIA MATTERS

“It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East,” said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a speech to the Syrian Journalists’ Union on August 15, 2006.1 But Bashar’s new Middle East was neither the one hoped for by many since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s 1991 defeat in Kuwait nor expected when Bashar himself ascended the throne in 2000. Actually, it was not even new at all but rather a reversion, often in remarkable detail, to the Middle East of the 1950s through the 1980s. The Arab world, now accompanied by Iran, was re-embracing an era that was an unmitigated disaster for itself and extolling ideas and strategies which had repeatedly led it to catastrophe.

No Arab state had more to do with this important and tragic turnabout than does Syria, this development’s main architect and beneficiary. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states wanted quiet; Iraq needed peace to rebuild itself. Even Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, pressed by sanctions and scared by his Iraqi counterpart Saddam’s fate, was on his good behavior. Only Syria remained as a source of instability and radicalism.

Thus, a small state with a modest economy became the fulcrum on which the Middle East shifted and which, in turn, shook the globe. Indeed, Bashar’s version of the new Middle East may well persist for an entire generation. Does this make Bashar a fool or a genius? That cannot be determined directly. What can be said is that his policy is good for the regime, simultaneously brilliant and disastrous for Syria, and just plain disastrous for many others.

To understand Syria’s special feature, it is best to heed the all-important insight of a Lebanese-American scholar, Fouad Ajami: “Syria’s main asset, in contrast to Egypt’s preeminence and Saudi wealth, is its capacity for mischief.”

In the final analysis, the aforementioned mischief was in the service of regime maintenance, the all-encompassing cause and goal of the Syrian government’s behavior. Demagoguery, not the delivery of material benefits, is the basis of its power.

Why have those who govern Syria followed such a pattern for more than six decades under almost a dozen different regimes? The answer: Precisely because the country is a weak one in many respects. Aside from lacking Egypt’s power and Saudi Arabia’s money, it also falls short on internal coherence due to its diverse population and minority-dominated regime. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used repression, ideology, and foreign adventures to hold together a system dominated by Sunni Arab Muslims who were only one-fifth of the population. In Syria, even more intense measures were needed to sustain an Alawite regime that rules based on a community only half as large proportionately.

To survive, then, the regime needs transcendent slogans and passionate external conflicts that help make its problems disappear. Arabism and, in more recent years, Islamism, are its solution. In this light, Syria’s rulers can claim to be not a rather inept, corrupt dictatorship but the rightful leaders of all Arabs and the champions of all Muslims. Their battle cries are very effectively used to justify oppression at home and aggression abroad. No other country in the world throws around the word “imperialism” more in describing foreign adversaries, and yet no other state on the globe follows a more classical imperialist policy.

In broad terms, this approach is followed by most, if not all, Arab governments, but Syria offers the purest example of the system. As for the consequences, two basic principles are useful to keep in mind:

1. It often seemed as if the worse Syria behaved, the better its regime does. Syrian leaders do not accept the Western view that moderation, compromise, an open economy, and peace are always better. When Syria acts radical, up to a point of course, it maximizes its main asset—causing trouble—which cancels out all its other weaknesses. As a dictatorship, militancy provided an excuse for tight controls and domestic popularity through its demagoguery.

2. Success for the regime and state means disaster for the people, society, and economy. The regime prospers by keeping Syrians believing that the battle against America and Israel, not freedom and prosperity, should be their top priority. External threats are used to justify internal repression. The state’s control over the economy means lower living standards for most while simultaneously preserving a rich ruling elite with lots of money to give to its supporters.

Bullying Must End!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Dear Dr. Yael:

My husband and I are having a problem with our seven-year-old daughter. She is having difficulty with socializing and was bullied this past year by another girl. She is a very sweet girl, and it is hard for her to respond when someone is mean to her. I don’t know how to help her and it is breaking my heart to see her going more and more into a shell. I spoke to her teachers and they tried to be more on top of the situation, but I am concerned about this coming school year. My daughter is already starting to dread going back to school because she is nervous that the bullying will continue. What can we do to help her avoid another difficult year?

A Heartbroken Mother

Dear Heartbroken Mother:

It is very frustrating to watch a child being bullied and to not know what you can do to help. The most important thing to do is to empower your daughter and help build her confidence. This can be done in several ways.

Does your daughter have any other girlfriends that would help her stand up to this bully? Getting other girls to help your daughter may make her feel more confident (and less hurt) by the bullying girl. And the girl who is bullying her may be much less likely to continue the bullying if she sees that it will not be tolerated by others. Research has shown that the most effective way to stop bullying is to get the bystanders to become proactive. Even though the other kids who are standing around may not be outwardly contributing to the bullying, they are in essence contributing to it because they are not standing up for the victim, thus allowing the bullying to continue. Someone proactive will defend the victim and not let the bully get away with demeaning anyone or making anyone feel bad. If even just a few girls decide that they will not let bullying occur, they can make a huge difference. Remember that in numbers there is strength. While I am not advocating for the children in your daughter’s class be mean to the bully, they must be assertive and make it clear that bullying behavior will not be tolerated in their school.

It is imperative that you make every effort to raise your daughter’s confidence level so she can have the self-belief to answer the bully and not look hurt while doing so – a very challenging feat. It would be helpful to come up with some witty comebacks and then role-play. Once your daughter feels comfortable with various responses, she will be more likely to use them when needed. Practicing the situation beforehand will help her feel more secure and less scared. Make sure to distinguish between nasty and aggressive remarks on one hand and confident and assertive remarks on the other. While a mean remark may sting the bully and make your daughter feel better in the short term, it will not be effective in the long term – as no one truly feels better when he or she makes someone else feel bad.

There is a huge difference between standing up for oneself and retaliating against others. Retaliation will likely continue the negative cycle and may even get your daughter in trouble. Defending oneself is a sign of self-assertion and strength, not meanness. Appropriate comebacks to bullying include “I’m surprised that such a nice girl like you would speak that way” or “I’m really sorry you feel that way.”

It may also be beneficial to get your daughter involved in some kind of chesed project and/or extracurricular activity. When people give to others, they feel useful and better about themselves. Many young girls and boys assist Tomchei Shabbos and other tzedakah organizations.

Another idea is to have your daughter aid a mother with several young children. These are great ways to do something positive on behalf of the frum community while your daughter strives to raise her sense of self. Getting involved in a specialty class (e.g. art, gymnastics, or dance) will also help her succeed in other areas and improve her self-esteem. These classes can also be great places to make new friends who share similar interests. Any kind of active class will pump your daughter with adrenaline, making her consistently feel better.

Try to minimize criticizing your daughter while maximizing your compliments and words of positive reinforcement. Seek opportunities to praise her for things she accomplishes and for the way she acts. Point out her special qualities in meaningful and sincere ways. For example, instead of saying “great job,” say “I really liked how you handled yourself when your little brother hit you. I could tell that you were upset, but you controlled yourself and acted like a true bas Yisrael. You really are a special girl!” This demonstrates that you were paying attention to her actions, and your praise lets her know that what she did was exemplary. She is then able to internalize the praise because it is meaningful.

If none of these ideas help your daughter, please seek professional help in order to build your daughter’s confidence and give her tools to use in stressful social situations. Never forget that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” Getting your daughter help now can save you from years of future therapy. Hatzlachah with your trying situation!

Note to parents whose children are bullying others: Get your children professional help to rectify their abusive behavior. Bullying is a serious problem for the victims and perpetrators alike. It is not something that children generally grow out of. Most children who bully feel insecure about themselves and in order to feel better feel the need to put others down. But in reality this creates a negative cycle that makes the bullies feel increasingly worse because being mean to others does not make them feel better about themselves.

Help them express what is bothering them so they can stop taking out their pain on other children. Now is the time to assets them in gaining more effective coping skills, thereby improving their middos. If they don’t change for the better at a young age, they may have difficulties in the future regarding issues like job security, getting married, and staying married.

Bullying is unacceptable and it’s easier for a bully to change his or her behavior at a young age. So please help your precious children learn to socialize appropriately. In the end they will be nicer to others – while feeling better about themselves.

In Hebrew: ‘Behavior’

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

הִתְנַהֲגוּת To behave is to conduct oneself in a certain way. It is therefore not surprising that the Hebrew word for to behave comes from the Biblical root meaning conduct or drive -נ.ה.ג (n.h.g).

To behave is לְהִתְנַהֵג (leh-heet-nah-HEG), a reflexive-intensive התפעל verb.

And following the verbal-noun pattern, behavior is הִתְנַהֲגוּת (heet-nah-hah-GOOT).

For example, הַהִתְנַהֲגוּת שֶׁל הַיָּלְדָה הִיא לֹא מְקֻבֶּלֶתthe girl’s behavior is unacceptable - (hah-heet-nah-hah-GOOT shel hah-yahl-DAH hee loh meh-koo-BEH-let).

Some other words of the same root are מִנְהָגcustom or tradition (meen-HAHG),לִנְהוֹגto drive (leen-HOHG) and לְהַנְהִיגto lead (leh-hahn-HEEG).

Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Self Esteem And Its Impact On Marriage

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Self esteem is one of the most important factors influencing human behavior. Despite what some people believe, self esteem can be a critical issue in marriage, where unresolved identity issues from childhood can place unwanted stress on a relationship.

Low self esteem can be very painful and difficult to overcome. Our sense of self is something we come into the world with and it follows us through life like a shadow. If we lose it, we are lost. If we have we it, we can face all of our trials and tribulations and maintain our sense of satisfaction and emotional well-being. Most parents understand the role self esteem plays in childhood. When children grow up, we teach them how to take losses in stride and how to win and lose with grace. We teach children that it’s them, and not just their grades, that matter.

Once childhood passes, unresolved self esteem issues can last for a lifetime. For example, in marriages where one person suffers from low self esteem, both parties may feel that their spouse never properly fulfills their emotional needs. And, where both suffer from feelings of low self esteem, there may be perpetual disappointment in the relationship.

Expectations make this issue even more complex. Couples tend to enter marriage with the belief that any hurt they may have experienced in the past will be healed by their spouse. They may also hope that their spouse will somehow make them feel good about themselves and nurture their self image.

A couple once came to talk with me about difficulties they were having in their marriage. The issue burning in their minds was the negative behavior of their teenage son. The father found it difficult to parent his rebellious teenager with confidence, and the wife had given up hope in her children and in her marriage as well. Overall, they were both visibly angry at one another, withdrawn and disappointed in their relationship.

I sensed there was more hiding below the surface. The husband, it turned out, had lost his mother at a young age and was raised by his father, who was too preoccupied with their financial survival to pay much attention to his son’s emotional needs. The wife had also had a very difficult childhood. She grew up with a father who had a temper and would often yell at her without reason. Early on, she had learned how to adapt and “disappear” from the house when he was around.

Years later, these two individuals would continue their childhood patterns and be caught in an endless cycle of emotional turmoil. Here is how the self esteem issues spiraled out of control: whenever he sensed that his wife was not responsive to his emotional needs, he would start yelling at her. His wife, who was mistreated by her father and had learned how to avoid conflict, would physically and emotionally withdraw from him and try to hide. This would intensify his feelings of rejection and make him even angrier.

To break the cycle, I suggested that both work on their self esteem. They could begin by exploring how their childhood traumas were now influencing their present-day behavior. Through becoming aware of these inner issues, they would be better equipped to respond to their deeper emotional wounds and start healing their feelings of rejection and neglect.

Here is a list of childhood family issues that may be interrupting your ability to have a happy marriage as an adult:

* Divorce
* Learning disabilities
* Lack of friendships
* Illness
* Physical or emotional abuse
* A sick parent
* A death in the family

Children who are exposed to conflict at home (which tends to coincide with a negative and hostile relationship between the parents) are more at risk for aggression, internalizing by withdrawing, depressive symptoms, and feelings of low self esteem.

Also, an adult who lost a parent when he or she was a child may feel a sense of loss that can carry on for a lifetime. Losing someone at a young age can diminish self-confidence, create feelings of despair, and leave individuals with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Part of the healing process is to become aware of these inner issues and to begin discussing them with one’s spouse. Talking about them in an honest and open way can help them become aware of each other’s feelings of abandonment. Here are some tips on how to nourish each other’s level of self esteem:

Rivlin: Knesset Must Regulate Politicians’ Ability to Switch Parties

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin (Likud) criticized the practice of switching between parties by various Members of Knesset and Knesset candidates , calling on the next Knesset to regulate such behavior, Israel’s Channel 10 website reported.

“We need to ask ourselves what is transpiring in our political culture,” Rivlin said. “To my regret, what was in the past an exception, has in recent days become routine and accepted behavior.”

“The next Knesset must answer to the constitutional and democratic question: can a candidate that competed in the primaries of one party join soon after in another party?”

The latest candidate to switch parties was former Labor Chairman Amir Peretz who just resigned from Labor and will be joining Tzipi Livni’s party, “The Movement,” as the second candidate on that party’s list after Livni herself.

Peretz claims that one of the reasons for his leaving the Labor party was that its new chairman, Shelly Yachamovitch has not publicly ruled out the possibility of joining a government with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Many members of Kadima have either resigned or have also left their party for Livni’s new party in recent days.

In the Israeli political system, to be elected to the Knesset a candidate must win a secure spot in a party slate or start a new party himself.  Running with a party on a spot below the number of seats polls show that party will receive is political suicide.

Many polls show that Kadima will not pass the voting threshold and will not have any seats in the next Knesset.

The Road Map To A Happy Marriage

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Creating direction in a marriage is similar to going on a long journey. To get to where you want to go, you need to have a plan that includes directions, supplies and the ability to navigate along the way. You will also have to be prepared for many possible factors that may interfere with your trip, including wind, rain, unpredictable mechanical breakdown and human error. Most importantly you will need a map to guide and help reorient you in case you lose your way.

Many couples who seek my advice are simply lacking the guidance of a relationship road map.

Take Shmuel, 25 and Rivky, 23. They came to speak with me about the lack of excitement and enthusiasm in their marriage. They had only been married for about six months, but were already feeling as if they were traveling down a bumpy road to an unknown destination.

From the outset they looked like the perfect couple – well-dressed, articulate and extremely well-educated. All of the excitement surrounding their engagement period and wedding had just about ended. Now, in their sixth month of marriage, they were feeling unequipped to deal with each other’s emotional needs. They were constantly bickering about the small things – like garbage collection, cooking dinner and cleaning up around the house.

Marriage wasn’t supposed to be so hard. Unable to cope, they started to withdraw from one another, instead of working together to solve their problems. It’s important to note that these were two healthy individuals who had the potential to have a great marriage, but they were lacking a roadmap or emotional GPS that could guide them on how to communicate and gain greater understanding of one another.

This couple’s relationship was clearly going off course. They needed guidance to stay focused on their destination.

To make their job easier, I suggested that they follow an emotional road map based upon what I call “The Four C’s of Relationship Theory: Connection, Control, Communication, and Conflict Resolution.” Together, they provide a clear guide to help couples evaluate where their relationship is going, and where and how to make changes if necessary.

Imagine, for example, if Shmuel and Rivky could read each other’s minds and understand what makes the other happy or sad, or scared and the way each wants to be cared for.

The Four C’s help couples see the bigger picture, and then make a distinction between the areas that demand attention, and those matters that are superficial and should not be the focus of their relationship. For example, you may find yourself arguing over small things like washing the dishes or doing the laundry. You may also be feeling as if your spouse is overly controlling and denies your feelings. Or, you may feel the two of you are drifting apart and aren’t as connected as you used to be. If so, should you try to be more assertive? Or should you learn more about you spouse’s inner world, increase the amount of quality time you spend together, and carefully work through their issues with them? A look at the Four C’s should provide an answer.

The following chart summarizes the principles of Relationship Theory.

 

The First “C”: Connecting to
Your Spouse’s Inner World

Learning about the total person you are married to is one of the main goals of marriage. As a therapist, I help couples explore both sides of their personalities – their external behavioral characteristics as well as their inner emotional worlds.

It’s important to note, that as human beings, we live in two distinct emotional worlds: an outer world and an inner world. The outer world is merely a façade, a layer which covers up our deeper and unseen emotions. The inner world, however, is the place that holds the key to understanding what makes people tick. Regrettably, many husbands and wives never learn about the complex and delicate issues in the other’s inner world; each relates only to the other’s outer or external side of their personality.

How in touch are you with your spouse’s inner world? Listed below are common negative behaviors that are based upon underlying “inner” world emotions. Take a few moments to evaluate your awareness of these issues.

My Great Grandmother

Monday, November 19th, 2012

If you look up the word “role model” in the dictionary you will find the following definition: “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.”

This is the ideal description of my great-grandmother. To me, she is more than just an ancestor in my family tree, she is the epitome of inspiration. She has proved herself to be a rose among thorns and a woman of valor. I am genuinely proud to call her my grandma and I am so blessed to have such an awesome person in my life.

“You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they taught me,” (Scott Adams). If I had one hour to be with the person of my choice it would surely be my Grandma.

In May 1911, a very special being came into existence. Her name is Paula. Back then, she was just a decedent of her grandparents, but now she is the heart of the Felsenstein Family. Grandma’s loving nature and uplifting spirit is what makes people, including her family and friends, gravitate towards her. Although Grandma endured many difficult challenges throughout the years, she refused to be limited by circumstance. The long, arduous journeys that Grandma embarked on are ones to remember and pass down to the generations coming.

I can learn much about the act of giving and being selfless from my Grandma. Living in Germany she used to generously give food to the hundreds of people who lined up outside her door. Grandma and her husband owned a horse-hair brush company which also made hats for British soldiers. Both of their products were purchased by Buckingham Palace.

Grandma married young, and a couple years into her marriage the Nazis started gaining power. Grandma and her husband fled to England where they were assured safety, although their plan of escape was far from simple. They were forced to walk across mountains for days, at one point paying people to help them cross borders in the back of an ambulance truck. I am trying hard to visualize the kind of agonizing hardships they’ve lived through. And the truth is, I probably would not be able to handle it the same way they did. The amount of faith and belief they had is simply indescribable.

And the miracles. Before they left Germany, Grandpa put all his money in the bank, leaving everything behind. In 1945, when the war ended, they returned to Germany without a penny to their name. Then a neighbor called asking to buy their house. Grandpa went to the bank and discovered that all of Grandma’s jewelry had been stored in a safe under their name. Grandma and Grandpa were extremely grateful for the miracles Hashem did for them.

About 40 years ago, my grandparents moved to Israel, where Grandma continues to live as a widow.

My desire and longing to be with my Grandma right now grows stronger and stronger each day. At 101 years old, my Grandma is the strongest lady I know – mentally and emotionally. Despite her old age, Grandma is constantly helping others and imprinting the lives of many with her inspirational and motivating stories. I strive to be like her in the way I live my life and hope that one day, when I have kids, they will live that way as well.

A wise man once said, “Someone who influences the thoughts of the people around her influences all the times that follow.” I love and cherish my Grandma unconditionally.

The Age Of Disrespect

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

And Lavan and Betuel answered and said, “It is from Hashem that this has come forth. We can speak neither for nor against it.” – Bereishis 24:50

Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, went to find a wife for Yitzchak. He approached the city of Charan, waited at the well, and asked Hashem for a sign. “Let it be that the girl who not only gives me water when I ask for it, but says, ‘Not only will I give you to drink, but I will give your camels as well.’ She should be the one that is right for Yitzchak.”

No sooner did he finish speaking than Rivka, the daughter of Betuel, came upon the scene and fulfilled his request exactly as he specified. Eliezer knew that he had found the right one.

He then asked Rivka to take him to her father. As they neared the house, Rivka’s brother Lavan saw the camels laden with treasure and ran out to greet the new guest and usher him in. Eliezer described the miracles that happened and then asked for approval of the marriage. Lavan and Betuel exclaimed, “It is from Hashem! How can we stop it?”

Rashi comments that from here we see Lavan’s wickedness. Why did the Torah mention his name first? To teach us that he spoke before his father. This shows us that he was a rasha.

This Rashi is difficult to understand. Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

The answer to this can best be understood from a historical vantage point.

A yeshiva student learning in Israel found himself on a bus, sitting near two secular American Jews. Noticing that one was a bit older than the other, he was surprised to hear them calling each other by their first names. “Bob, did you notice that?” said one. “Hey, Joe, what do you think?” said the other. His surprise deepened when in the course of conversation it became clear that the two were father and son. Dad explained, “I don’t want barriers between us, so we call each other by our first names.”

That isn’t the way that it used to be. Not all that long ago in America, a teenager wouldn’t dream of calling an adult by his first name, let alone his father. And certainly a child wouldn’t dare open his mouth when his father spoke. It didn’t matter how foul-mouthed the child was, and it didn’t matter how unpolished the father was. Children knew their place, and the idea of a child speaking back to an adult was unheard of.

Things have changed. The countercultural revolution of the 1960s brought new attitudes and ideas. And while much of the hysteria of those times has passed, one of the relics is that respect is no longer part of the culture. Gone is respect for leaders. Gone is respect for the clergy. Gone is respect for elders. In its place is the cynicism of a new age – an egalitarian age – where we are all equals.

We no longer need to treat institutions with reverence, and we no longer need to treat authority with deference. And so we argue with our doctors. We argue with our lawyers. And we argue with our parents, who don’t really know that much anyway. Welcome to the Age of Disrespect.

This seems to be the answer to this Rashi. In the times of Lavan, society was still relatively normal. Workers respected bosses. Students respected teachers. Younger people respected older people. As such, there were things that were done and things that were not done. In that world, for a child to answer in his father’s presence was outrageous. It simply didn’t happen. The only time such a thing could occur was when the child had veered way off course – had become deviant. And so Rashi tells us that Lavan’s response shows just how wicked he was.

This is especially illustrative because Lavan wasn’t known as a paradigm of virtue. He died trying to poison Eliezer in order to steal his money. Yet even in his home, for a child to answer before his father did was so out of the norm that it could only happen if that child was wicked.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-age-of-disrespect/2012/11/14/

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