Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shemini-Parah(chukat) 76 - The way we speak, P.M.I & CPS - collaborative problem solving by Allan Katz

  guest post by Allan Katz
The Parasha- Portion of Shemimi – Parah (Chukat) deals  with the Inauguration of the Tabernacle – Mishkan, the Dietary laws – kosher animals etc.  and the purification process using the Red heifer – Parah A'dumah . The features and characteristics that distinguish animals from plants is that they have mobility and eat  food. And what makes them kosher is that their  limbs are not designed for aggression – a cloven hoof and bringing up/ chewing  the cud as opposed to feet with claws or a full hoof  (kicking ) and a digestive system and teeth that serve predators and carnivorous animals well. What distinguishes man from the animal is sophisticated communication and speech. So a kosher man is not a man who puts into his mouth only kosher food, but a man who is also particular of what comes out of his mouth. The Midrash commentary on Parashat Chukat quotes Psalms 12 - the sayings of God are pure and gives examples from the Torah so man can learn to emulate God. Instead of describing animals that went into the ark as Tameih and impure, the Torah which usually concise and uses few words says that the not pure animals went into the ark, a more positive and finer expression than the negative description of ' impure ' animals. When the Torah in our parasha lists the non-kosher animals for e.g. the camel, it first describes the positive-kosher feature that it brings up its cud, and then afterwards says, but its hoof is not split encouraging us to talk firstly about the positive in people. The Midrash then says that the generation of King David suffered losses in battle because there were slanderers and people spoke ' lashon ha'rah. The generation of Ahab, despite being idolatrous, was victorious because they did not speak badly about one another. Speech and communication should make a positive contribution to people.

The way we speak impacts on our relationships with people and how we solve problems. The problem in our parasha was the dispute between Moses and Aaron concerning the sin offering goat for the Rosh Chodesh service. Two other goat sin offerings that were specific to the inauguration ceremony – the special offering of the tribal leader of Judah, Nachshon and one for the inauguration ritual for the Tabernacle were never to be brought again and were called kodshei sha'ah. The Rosh Chodesh goat offering would be brought at the beginning of each month was not specific to the inauguration ritual and was called kodshei olam   le'dorot. Moses instructed the priests – kohanim to eat the mincha offerings which were kodshei sha'ah and also the meat of the sin offerings. The question was - did this instruction include the sin offering of Rosh Chodesh, even though it was not specific to the ceremony and kodshei le'dorot.? The problem or Moses' unmet expectation was that the sin offering was not eaten but burned. Moses was extremely angry and criticized Aaron's sons (not Aaron himself, out of respect for Aaron) for not eating the sin offering. Aaron answers and gives an explanation which Moses accepts. The Sages say that Moses erred because he became angry and had it not been for his anger he would have been able to get a clear understanding of the concerns of the Kohanim and come to the conclusion that they had acted properly.

Edward de Bono's P.M.I tool helps us deal with situations when our  expectations are not met. In order to get a better understanding of what others are saying and be more creative and exploratory we should first look at the positives – the P, about their idea, statement or action. Then we can use our critical thinking skills and look for the Minuses, and then ask questions what will happen If... and make Interesting points or observations about the Idea. This is the same lesson which the Torah teaches, when it teaches us about the positive or kosher feature of the camel before mentioning the negative and non-kosher feature. It is very difficult to see the other's point of view and perspective if we are first use our critical thinking skills. Intelligent people are often non-creative and bad thinkers because they are only focused on criticizing the other position and defending theirs. When Moses heard Aaron's reasoning, he accepted it and did not try to defend his position.   Ross Greene's CPS – collaborative problem solving model suggests that a person with an  unmet expectation, whether a parent, teacher, peer etc. should in a non-emotive neutral way, just describe what he has seen and ask – what's up? So Moses could have just said – I have noticed that the goat offering of Rosh Chodesh has been burnt and not eaten, what's up? Aaron would then express his concern and perspective. The CPS model first focuses on the concerns and perspectives of the other person, student or child and then the  the care giver or teacher, parent etc. would put his concerns and perspective  on the table. Then the parties are invited to brain storm durable and realistic solutions that address both concerns and are mutually satisfactory.  Here we adopt a similar approach of Beit Hillel who first tried to understand the other party's perspective and learning before sharing their perspective and learning.

Moses was understandably angry, anxious and concerned about integrity and spiritual  perfection  of the tabernacle-mishkan.  The tragic death of Nadav and Avihu caused by them initiating the bringing of their own incense, an eish zarah, a foreign fire into the Holy of Holies was in sense a replay of the sin of the golden calf after the  receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. On the day of their death, Aaron and his other sons became 'onenim', mourners who may not perform mitzvoth including the temple service. Moses told Aron that as an exception to this  rule,  they were obligated to do the inauguration service. The test whether the erection of the Mishkan was successful and an  atonement for the sin of the Golden calf would be the Kohanim eating from the meat of the Rosh Chodesh sin offering (which was not part of the inauguration ritual) after the completion of the inaugural ritual. When Kohanim eat from God's table, it is an expression that God's presence resides in the Holy place and there is atonement for the people. Aaron answered that because they were special mourners, one'nim, they lacked the sanctity and holiness to affect atonement through their eating of the offerings and cause God's presence to reside in the mishkan –tabernacle. The deficiency was not in the mishkan, but in their person. As one'nim- mourners they lacked simcha – joy and sanctity which impacted negatively on their inner souls and beings and the ability to connect to God. They  therefore they could not eat from the sin offering of Rosh Chodesh as it was kodshei olam le'dorot and not specific to the inaugural ritual.

It is interesting to note that Aaron did not respond with a direct answer to Moses, but in a tentative way asked if it was proper for him as an Onen to eat from the Rosh Chodesh offering, and would God have approved of it?  The Telze Rov says that Aaron acted in the same way as a child should act. The child should bring a parent's attention to the Halacha-law written in the Torah by asking a question and not directly criticize a parent. The parent would come to his own conclusion and correct himself while his dignity remains intact.

We can learn from Aaron that the way we speak to parents is a respectable way to speak to all people including children. Communication and problem solving should be respectful and positive and focus on identifying the concerns of all and then brainstorming solutions that are mutually satisfactory.

1 comment :

  1. First install Shazam on your mobile phone, launch the app, play the YouTube video on your Desktop and bring the phone near the computer speaker. Alternatively, if these apps aren't available for your mobile phonefind-song-in-youtube-video


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