May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Learn the words in Hebrew to figure out the joke below:

He labled me – כִּינָה

Me – אוֹתִי

Liar – שַׁקְרָן  

Don’t take it to heart – אַל תִּקַּח לַלֵּב

But – אֲבָל

Proved it – הוֹכִיחַ זֹאת


Jack’s friend shared with him: “Jack called me a liar.” Jack said to his friend: “Don’t take it to heart (which is don’t take him seriously). His friend responded, “But he proved it…”

Teacher corner:

One of my students sitting in the back of the class answered a question incorrectly. There is that moment of silence in class when you realize that things could go south very quickly if I did not redirect the energy of the room, so I tried to support the student by saying, “That was a good thought. Would you like to try again?” And of course, the second time the student’s answer was even worse. His friend sitting next to him mumbled something under his breath and the first student looked embarrassed, like he would cry, and then he put his head down dejectedly.

I felt terrible, but of course this wasn’t about me; it was about my student, so the moment class was over I took my student aside and asked him what was said to him. While at first he brushed off my question, I did not relent. Finally he confessed that his friend called him a “stupid idiot.” I commented that as insults go, that was certainly not very clever. “How did it make you feel?” I asked. He replied that it made him feel like one. I said, “Great! Now we are getting somewhere.” He was a little surprised by my enthusiasm.

Then I asked him the most important question, “Is it true?” My student was glancing at the door looking for an exit. He said, “Is what true?” I answered: “Is what your friend said about you a true and a correct assessment of who you are? Is what he said true?”

My student looked at me like I was asking him a trick question. “Listen,” I continued, “either what your friend said is true or it is not true. If it is not true, then you can ignore it and let it go because it says nothing about you, but reveals a lot about the person who said it.”

“But, what if it is true?” he asked. “Young man,” I started, “I can tell you as a teacher that I know for sure you are a very bright student, but what do you think?” “Well, sometimes I do feel like an idiot.”

“OK, feelings are important,” I said, “but in a search for truth, what can you prove? Search the totality of your experience and search for your own evidence from your own personal experiences—everyone has something they are smart about. But let’s say you come away with the idea that the answer is true, then if it is true you can ask yourself, What can I do about it? Now I had his curiosity piqued. “What do you mean?” he queried.

“What is the truth? Let us break it down. You were called a name because you didn’t know an answer in class. So, if your friend wanted to be accurate, he would have said that you are ‘one who didn’t know an answer in class.’ OK, does not knowing an answer make you a ‘stupid idiot? No, it makes you someone who doesn’t know an answer to a question. Once you have accurately defined the underlying truth you can achieve clarity by asking why. Why did you not know the answer?”

He looked up sheepishly at me and said, “Because I did not do my homework.” “See,” I said, “you knew that answer!”

So, if someone says something that is hurtful to you, ask yourself if it is true. If not, disregard it because it says more about the other person than it does about you—and if it is true then you have a chance to figure out what you can do about it—what can you change to make it different, if it is important to you? Ask a parent or someone close to you to help you develop a “plan of action” to change a behaviour, if you want change.

In your case, you just need to actually do your homework once in a while—and you would see the difference in class. Put in the effort and you would see a positive difference in how you feel about yourself. So, are you willing to try this on for a week? My student looked up at me and said with a smile, “I am going to have to wait to see how I feel … and that’s the truth.”

An important tool that we can give to our kids and ourselves to manage hurtful statements is to ask if it is true. If not, disregard it because it says more about the other person than it does about you—and if it is true then we have a chance to fix it and make it better.

TUTORING IN HEBREW: For individual, family or group lessons in Hebrew, all levels, please email [email protected]. Maya Yehezkel is a Hebrew teacher at Yeshivat Noam middle school.

By Maya Yehezkel


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