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   29 Tishrei 5775 / Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Torah Reading Noach       
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HomeSpirituality and FaithPersonal GrowthStay in the Game
Stay in the Game
By: Dr. Zev Ballen

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The teenage "wall"
Adolescents need us, their parents, to be their 'wall', that they can bounce off. And any type of wall is better than no 'wall' at all. When the parents give up, and let their kid do whatever they want, because "he's beyond help"- that's when the kid goes even crazier.
We parents have to stand firm, and be the wall of defense that surrounds the child and the home. We have to set limits, but we have to lead them with kindness. We have to have rules, but we need to implement them without anger, viciousness, or taking revenge on our children.
G-d knows that the nature of man is to want to avenge even the smallest dints to his pride. That's why there are all those passages talking about "an eye for an eye", or, "a tooth for a tooth". Taking revenge is human nature. Why? Because G-d made us that way. Why? Because He wants us to grow and beat out of ourselves all these animal characteristics, and to make a real decision to have a spiritual life.
Once I'm living a spiritual life, I won't argue or fight with anyone. I'm going to back down, even if I'm right. I'm sending a very clear signal that I'm willing to go the distance to be a good person.
The moment of death
I've been with a lot of people in the minutes and hours before they were about to pass away. It's amazing to see the radical personality changes that can happen with a terminally ill person who knows they are imminently about to die.
I would say that that insight was one of the biggest gifts of my life, because people who are about to pass don't fake it. All of a sudden, they have clarity about what's really important in life. And it's not money; it's not degrees; it's not the honor that other people give them, or making another multi-million dollar deal. It all boils down to how much love they've received, and how much love they've given others, and the quality of their relationship with others.
And this "relationship equation" always starts in our own families. We have to ask ourselves, how much did we really care for our family members? How giving were we, really? How much did we communicate to our loved ones that we were willing to give it all up, if need be, for them?
Most of the time, G-d doesn't actually call us on that commitment to go the extra mile for our loved ones, but they themselves can feel our sincerity - or lack of sincerity. The eyes are the windows of the soul, and our spouses and children know what we're really feeling.
When people genuinely feel that the other person would go the distance for them - whatever it takes - the conflict completely goes away, and all of a sudden, compromises can happen so easily. I've seen people completely reverse "firm" opinions that they hadn't budged on an iota, in a few seconds.
Let the other person win
In every "conflict" situation, there always has to be a "winner' and a 'loser". Be the bigger person. Let the other person "win" - and when you do, Hashem will give you as a present, a whole new quality of life, and vitality. He'll take care of the rest, and you'll get all those blessings of great kids, shalom bayis, health, income, you name it.
Hashem sends us these challenges, particularly these relationship challenges, because He doesn't want to give all the goodies away for free. You just can't beat the feeling you get when you earned something, compared to just being handed it on a plate. How amazing it is, when we've earned those good feelings, that good marriage, those good kids…
Stay in the game
But these rewards don't come easily. We have to stay in the game, and not withdraw from it, nor rebel against Hashem and the direction He's taking our lives in.
If we manage to do this, we'll end up a calm, in-control, empowered, person who has no anxiety, great self-esteem and joy. And those people live much longer, happier lives, and they make a much bigger positive difference to the world around them.
Once you get to that place, you'll be able to make the unique contribution to the world, that G-d created you to make, and that no-one else can do.
* * *
Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can see Dr. Zev's live video broadcast every Wednesday at 5pm Israel time here on You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.



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