Weekly Davar: Behaloscha 2024

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Davar Thought

The Torah says that when the High Priest kindles the lights of the Menorah, the candelabra in the Temple, he must ‘raise them up’; not light them such that they are flickering but will eventually catch fire themselves, rather he must wait until the flame is strong and independent before he withdraws his own flame.

The rabbis suggest that this is true in education also, and, as I would like to focus on, education of our own children. The goal of education is to give independence. To stand our children on their own two feet. As quickly as possible so that they can get on with their own lives rather than living as an appendage of ours.

I was speaking to my rabbis this week about how one of our children was still living at home into their twenties and we asked them to pay rent. My rabbis were horrified. As was this child 😊. And soon left home. Which was, at least in our mind, what the child needed anyway. We do our children no favours by enabling dependency.

It’s funny to me, but I know of parents who do the opposite. They will keep supporting their children into their twenties and thirties, even beyond, just so that they can keep control of their children and ensure that they remain in a certain box. It happens fairly commonly in the Orthodox Jewish community, though I’m sure elsewhere also.

In my mind, our job as parents, is to get them set up with what they need for life – then let them go with it where they will. We can have aspirations for them, hopes. We can share our values with them. We can point them in directions that make sense to us. But, ultimately, I believe that good parenthood means letting go. Supporting and cheerleading from the stands. Advising, when asked. And loving as much as we are able. That is how my parents brought me up and it’s how I’ve tried to bring up my own children also.

I believe this is the Torah’s approach. It’s so difficult to give our children independence. It’s hard for us to let them go because they mean so much to us, and because we don’t want to stand and watch on the sidelines as they make mistakes. But I believe that independence is the greatest gift we get to give our children. There will come a time for all of us when we are forced to let go. Parents do not live forever. Preparing our children sooner, rather than later, enables them to be ready when the time comes. But more than that, it enables them to build their own lives, in their own ways. In the heart of hearts of a parent, what does he want for his or her child more than that?

Good Shabbos,

Shaul

Parsha in a Nutshell

This week’s portion talks about the mystical powers of the Ark to disperse and destroy the enemies of the Jewish people. The Talmud tells us that this Ark was hidden by King Josiah before the Babylonian exile and has never been seen since. The myriad caves and tunnels under the Dome of the Rock would be the place to find it.

The rest of the portion is a lot of complaining – the Jewish people complain about the manna, about the lack of meat, about lack of water and when they have nothing to complain about – they complain about nothing in particular. Yes, Jews complaining is not a new phenomenon, I’m afraid.

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