This week’s Middat HaShavuah is taken from our Torah portion, Parshat Toldot.
The Middah is: 

וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְׁתְּ, וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ; וַיִּבֶז עֵשָׂו, אֶת-הַבְּכֹרָה 

(בראשית כה:כג) 

Middah: Take time to think before you act

In this week’s Parsha, we are introduced to the sons of Yitzchak and Rivkah, twin boys named Eisav and Yaakov.  In the narrative, Eisav returns one day from his hunt famished and exhausted. In his haste to eat and drink, Eisav sells Yaakov his birthright. By all measures, it is evident to us that Eisav did not think before he acted.  

The social sciences teach us that it is important to always stop, reflect, and act. This is what is known as emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is one of the most important executive functioning skills you can practice with your children. It describes how we manage and respond to emotional experiences in the environment, particularly stressful ones. Emotional regulation can include many different behaviours like staying calm when frustrated, disappointed, or angry, and staying relaxed when excited, nervous, or frightened. Avoiding saying or doing things that may cause harm to oneself or others is another way we can describe emotional regulation.

Research supports that emotional regulation is among the most critical skills necessary for children and teens to grow into healthy and independent adults. Effectively managing emotions impacts academic achievement, school readiness, mental health, student-teacher and parent-child relationships, and peer-to-peer relationships. When teens and adults fail to demonstrate good emotional regulation, it can also cause negative impacts, including chronic stress, implications on sleep, mental health concerns like depression and anxiety, and other serious health conditions.

Think about how the history of the Jewish people would have been different if Eisav had just stopped, reflected, and then acted! Who knows? Maybe he would have kept the birthright and Yaakov would have been relegated to the dustbin of history! We can all learn so many lessons from the biblical narratives. One clear lesson is what happens when you do or do not effectively manage your emotions. We have so much to gain or lose!

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach!

Moreh Alan