Yaakov Lieder

Episode 2: S Even when confirmation feels divine, consider a question

B”H February 5 2024

Episode 2/2024

If you have 30 seconds 

Even when confirmation feels divine, consider a question

Imagine the school holidays, my wife and I attempting to entertain children of all ages simultaneously. Pure chaos, right?

In the midst of that, meet Leah, my spirited eight-year-old, and Aaron, her nine-year-old brother. Leah is on a mission, convinced Aaron is sabotaging her Monopoly game. Despite numerous attempts to negotiate peace, I hit my breaking point when Leah starts sobbing again.

That’s it, I tell myself. In my sternest parent voice, I let Aaron have it. “Aaron, you’re in trouble! No park for you this afternoon!”

On cue, tears from both kids now. “It’s not fair!” Aaron protests. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”

By now, I’ve had my fill of sibling drama and want some peace.

Can you relate to this? Let me share a twist and a lesson from the Garden of Eden that might save your sanity.

Instead of hurling accusations like, “You made her cry!”, let’s take a page from a divine book. Remember when G-d asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”(Genesis 3:11), even though He already knew the answer?

Before assigning blame, go for a more Heavenly approach—use questions to untangle the mystery.

Turning to Aaron, I inquired, “Did you mess up Leah’s game?”

His response surprised me. “Yes and no; I was trying to play with her nicely,  but then the Monopoly pieces fell by accident and got messed up.”

Even amidst impeccably clear communication, errors can occur. Our familial anecdote underscores the significance of posing straightforward questions to nurture authentic relationships.

If you have another minute, join me as we explore communication in our wired world. Let’s decode Eden together.

In the fast-paced world of digital communication, tension can quickly escalate, and stinging passive-aggressive comments may emerge. We’ve all experienced those challenging moments.

What if I told you that the key to smoother conversations amidst our modern chaos lies in an ancient text—the Torah? Let’s take a moment to revisit the Garden of Eden and Adam’s iconic conversation with the Almighty.

Picture Adam in the Garden of Eden, confronted with the Almighty’s question: “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11). It was an awkward moment for Adam, presenting him with the following four choices of how to respond:

  1. Confess
  2. Deny
  3. Shift blame
  4. The best choice—a sincere “Yes, I did it, please forgive me.”

Unfortunately, Adam chose to Shift the Blame to his wife, Eve.

In today’s digitally connected age, we often find ourselves jumping to conclusions. What if there’s a more effective way to handle sticky situations? Instead of resorting to fiery accusations, like “You did it!” or “You’re the worst!”, consider a more understanding approach.

Imagine asking a simple, sincere question, such as “Did you do it?” This slight shift opens up space for vulnerability and apologies, transforming the tone from confrontation to resolution. Let’s uphold the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Now, let’s apply this lesson to our modern lives. When your partner forgets the milk again, try asking, “Did you forget the milk?” This simple shift can open up a constructive dialogue, offering your partner the same four choices Adam had: 1. Yeah, I forgot; 2. No, it’s on the kitchen table; 3. Milk wasn’t on the list you gave me, or, best of all, 4. I forgot, and I am very sorry, I’ll go out and get it.

When a friend cancels plans, try choosing empathy over anger. Instead of expressing disappointment with, “Can’t believe you stood me up,” consider saying, “Everything okay? I’m here if you need to talk.” Empathy consistently prevails.

And remember this. 

“The power of a well-placed question exceeds that of a thousand accusations. It opens the door to empathy, fosters connection, and transforms conflicts into opportunities for growth.” 

I wish you fruitful and harmonious conversations.

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This publication is kindly sponsored by: Tony & Robin Mitchell in loving memory of their parents: Schaindel bat Yitzchak ע”ה, Yeshayahu ben Chaim ע”ה, Avraham Fischel ben Yosef ע”ה, Chana Raizl bat Azriel HaKohen ע”ה

About the Author
Rabbi Yaakov Lieder was born in Israel and received his formal education in Israel and the United States. For the past 42 years he has been involved in many aspects of education and have held a variety of positions in Australia.
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