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Emotional Intelligence

Friday, 13 April, 2018 - 9:47 am

Recently, Chavie and I had the opportunity to attend a one-day seminar about self-awareness and EQ/EI. If you’re like me, it’s a new concept, so let me give you the abbreviated version: EQ/EI reflects a person's ability to empathize with others: identify, evaluate, control and express one’s own emotions; perceive, and assess others' emotions; use emotions to facilitate thinking, understand emotional meanings. Naturally, the ideas we were taught were very familiar as they are consistently addressed in Chassidic thought, but having them brought to life, was eye opening and hopefully life changing.

Interestingly, this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, shares two moments of incredible self-awareness, one exhibited by Moses and the other by his brother Aaron. When Aaron, the newly appointed High Priest, hears the news of the untimely passing of Nadav and Avihu, two of his four sons, the Torah says, “And Aaron was silent”. Yes, he recognized their sin of drunkenness in the Holy of Holies, he understood that they experienced spiritual ecstasy and even heard the encouraging words uttered by his younger brother Moses, who said, “This is what the Lord spoke, when He said, 'I will be sanctified through those near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified”. Yet, Aaron was self-aware of his feelings, his subjectivity and his brokenness and he just remained silent.

Later in the story, Moses condemns Aaron’s two living sons, Elazar and Itamar, for what he perceived as a violation of the tabernacle rules of inauguration. When Moses is reminded of the actual Halacha, G-d’s exact will under the circumstances, he realizes that he was mistaken, his anger was unfounded and after Aaron responds to his rebuke, we are told “Moses heard this, and it pleased him.”. He was adequately self-aware not to take it personal or defend the indefensible, he simply acknowledged his mistake and publicly declared the correct ruling. Moses and Aaron both understood that they aren’t perfect and the more thoughtful they are, the better person/leader they can be.

Having a high IQ is awesome; balanced with a high EQ, is healthy!


May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!


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