“My children are constantly fighting,” laments Susan, a mother of three. “They bicker about the size of their dinner portions. They argue over whose turn it is to do a chore. They fight over who is smarter or friendlier. Will there ever be peace in my home?”

This week’s Torah reading, Yitro, records the momentous event of the Jewish people receiving the Torah.

“In thethird monthafter the exodus of the children ofIsraelfrom Egypt, they came to the desert of Sinai . . .and Israel encampedthere opposite the mountain.”(Ex. 19:1–2)

The Mechilta notes: Everywhere else it is written, “theytraveled . . .they encamped” in the plural, meaning with dissenting opinions. Here, however, it is written “and Israel encamped,” in the singular form, since all were equally of one heart.

Although it is natural for a multitude of people to have dissenting opinions, when the Jewish people arrived to receive the Torah they were “as one man, with one heart.”

The time in which this occurred—during the third month after the Exodus—helped create the condition for this exceptional harmony.

The Talmud notes the predominance of the number three: “A threefold Torah, to a threefold people, through a third-born, on a third day, in the third month.” (Shabbat 88a)

What is so special about the number three that the Torah, whose purpose is to bring peace and unity to mankind, was given in this month? And what psychological quality can we learn from this number in our efforts to foster greater harmony among our children?

The giving of the Torah in the third month teaches us that Torah values diversity and individuality.

“One” implies that there exists only a single reality and suggests absolute conformity. “Two” indicates divisiveness and disparity, as in two opposing, rival approaches. “Three” finds an underlying unity between disparate entities.

When two biblical passages contradict each other, the meaning can be determined by a third biblical text, which reconciles them both by finding their deeper, concealed harmony. On the surface, the two verses may seem to disagree. But the third verse resolves their disagreement, not by “taking sides” and agreeing with one verse over the other, but by showing that the two are actually in consonance. (Sifra, Intro).

The Torah wasn’t given in the first month.

The number “one” suggests exactness and conformity. While the Torah expects law and order, it still respects our individual natures and our creative expressions.

Conflict may arise between people when conformity is demanded. As a parent, do you hear yourself saying, “The rules in this house are that everyone must strictly follow this routine”? What happens when a child doesn’t comfortably fit into your neat box? What if a child isn’t able to follow a set regimen, a firm schedule, or an inflexible list of expectations?

Recognizing and validating a child’s uniqueness may curtail some of the strife among siblings.

The Torah wasn’t given in the second month of the year.

The number “two” is indicative of two rivaling opposites.

Conflict arises when people feel that they are being compared to, or “pitted” against, each other. As a parent, do you hear yourself saying: “Why can’t you be like your sister, whose room is always so neat?” or “Why doesn’t your brother ever need to be reminded to do his chores?”

One of your children may be particularly neat, while another might be highly creative. Contrasting the two is not only unfair; it can be destructive.

The Torah, whose purpose is peace, was given in the third month.

The message of “three” is the beauty of having a world full of endless possibilities, nuances, and talents coming together in the harmonious goal of creating greater goodness.

So, teach your child the power of three:

1) To appreciate himself for who he is—not by comparing himself to another, nor by judging himself against a rigid set of expectations.

2) To value the special qualities that she has, rather than see herself as lacking a specific quality.

3) To realize that working with others won’t diminish him, but will help him (and those around him) achieve a greater, common good.

Our mission as parents is to utilize the power of three—to uncover and actualize the special talents and contributions of all of our children.