Monday, October 22, 2012

Walk Iinto Splintered Sunlight (Robert Hunter & Phil Lesh "Box of Rain")

Well our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah has become the all encompassing agenda item in our home. It dominates the “honey do- list”; it dominates the quiet moments since a quiet moment is the perfect time to do seating arrangements, double check the RSVP situation, and double check as to whether the “to-do” list is slowly shrinking. Unfortunately for our daughter the Bat Mitzvah, she still has school. While she would prefer to focus upon the party, the music, the guest list, and a little bit about her D’var Torah (her speech); she had numerous tests last week and she has numerous tests this week – the week leading up to her bat mitzvah. Admittedly, I have now started speaking a little differently to our Bat Mitzvah girl. Admittedly, I don’t tolerate as many excuses. I have started to force her to become for self-dependent. So when our daughter asked me to help her study for her social studies test and later her science test, I dutifully agreed. We sat down, she asked a question. Knowing that she should already know the answer, I asked her one simple question. Did you read your notes and read the textbook.  With a blank expression and then as if a light bulb went on, she said, “No, am I supposed to?” Now our daughter does well in school. So I smiled and I said as sweetly as possible: “Study the material yourself, re-read your notes, read the chapter in the book. READ!!!! Read so you understand the material and not just read to find the answer to a question, otherwise you won’t understand how things are connected. READ!!!” I concluded my sweetly worded diatribe by reminding her that she is a bat mitzvah which means that she becomes obligated for mitzvot. I reminded her that in our home it also means that she is obligated to read and learn. I no longer have to do this for her. Intellectually and academically, it is time for to venture forth – at least a little bit.

This Shabbat we read from Parsha Lech Lecha. Many events occur in Parsha Lech Lecha including: Abram leaving his birthplace, traveling down to Egypt and becoming wealthy, separating from Lot (his brother’s son and last blood relative), fight against the local leaders responsible for territorial instability, fathering a son by his wife’s handmaid (with his wife’s approval), and finally circumcising himself at age 99 and all the males in his household. As many of these events unwind, there is usually a moment just before, or immediately after the event, where God re-assures Avram that everything will be all right, that the covenant, which includes: a great nation, land, and wealth will eventually occur. Most of these re-assuring moments are quite explicit. However one such moment of re-assurance speaks to the notion of what God hopes for as Avram’s descendants take on the covenant. Ani El Shaddai Hithaleich Lefanai Vheyeh Tamim. I am El Shaddai; walk before Me and be perfect” (Gen.17:1). In order to achieve spiritual perfection Avram has to do more than just walk with God. Rather, Avram needs to incorporate what God wants (in this case Brit Mila –ritual circumcision) into his daily life. Only when Avram is less spiritually dependent, and more spiritually independent can the Brit, the covenant between God and Avram, go into effect.
Avram walks ahead of God knowing that God is always around to re-assure him. Ultimately this type of relationship breeds a strong sense of security, trust and faith in the parent figure. Yes this is a process; it was a process for Avram in this week’s Parsha and will continue to be in next week’s Parsha. It is a process for our daughter as helping her is not necessarily about giving her the answers. She is now realizing that help means receiving the support, sustenance and direction of where to find the answers and how to access them. However, she will have to learn how to learn and walk on ahead in order to make sense of what she reads.
Rav Yitz

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