The Rabbi I Did Not Become and the Preaching I Still Get to Do

When I was 18 I thought I would step in the family's textile business in Athens, Nahmias Bros, and become a merchant as most of my family at the time. At 19 I changed my mind and opted instead to study Psychology and follow in my mother's footsteps. However, upon completing my Psychology studies I had discovered my Judaism and had a yearning to study it and explore it on a deeper level, beyond just the celebration of Pesach and Yom Kippur.

And should at the time my community had been one that could envision itself as having a female Rabbi, I would have opted for becoming one, but my Athenian Jewish community being a traditional one, did not have in its spectrum of choices a female Rabbi.

I do not know whether it has to do with being Sephardic, but it was clear to me that my community did not and would not ever see me as a candidate for this position. So I moved on; to a Masters in Jewish Civilization and a career in the field.

But preaching I do get to do, even though I did not realize the Rabbi yearning of my twenties. Since I became a mother, I allow myself to preach to my three daughters from time to time. They constitute my intimate, close community where I set the rules and I am its Rav character.

And today I had once again an amazing opportunity to preach before them and bring out all the Pathos, Ethos, and Eros on my topic, namely quarreling. My 16 year old daughter Maya was arguing with my 11 year old daughter Eden and the tones of their voices had risen, the discussion's volume had gone up, and they were quarreling badly calling each other names.

I snatched the opportunity and went on my imaginary altar and said to them. "I am sorry.  We seem to have failed you as your parents if you two sisters need to reach these extremes, if you two sisters can't respect each other and cooperate with each other.

You two sisters, who live in the same house, share the same room, speak the same language, have the same parents who educated you both can't find a common ground, how do you then expect that two strangers in Jerusalem will? If you with all this shared background and history can't find a common language, and communicate in a respectful way, how do you expect for Jews and Arabs to find a way?"

"Don’t you see?" I ask them, "you are part of the problem and not part of the solution! You are part of the conflict with your behavior.  How do you expect for us to have peace if you can't argue respectfully?"

I know that I get on their nerves with my preaching, but I also sense that they get some value out of it.

It makes them aware that peace is not an abstract, vague notion but something that is composed of one and one and one more behavior and  encounter, that add up to a whole "environment," either hostile or friendly.

 When they quarrel badly, I like to use my Grinberg Method toolset,  get in their way, grab their attention and focus it on the situation for them to witness too what is happening, while it is happening and then magnify it before them to see.  

I then make the point that if we can't cooperate within a family, how on earth are we expected to cooperate harmoniously with members who do not belong to the family?

In that sense, I am trying to make clear, that the way we treat each other affects not just our family, but our community, city and ultimately society. And that if we do not learn to communicate in a peaceful and respectful manner within our family, and are on the verge of being violent to each other with our words and actions then that is the kind of society we are expected to see outside our home as well. The girls get it.

I have more favorite themes I like to preach to them about, including self-defense, what real strength and leadership actually look like, but it is now almost 11pm and our middle daughter Noa is still not in bed and I am hasting to have her go to sleep now, as sleeping my preaching goes has to do with loving your body and taking care of its needs. Καληνύχτα, good night I tell her, it's time to go to bed.