Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Guess From Their Cries You Were Listening To A Fight ( John Barlow & Bob Weir - "Looks Like Rain)

I don’t know why but I am always amazed that there is always one child having a bad day, being difficult, antagonizing parents and siblings and just being plain old rotten.  I can’t remember the last time when all of our children actually got along with each other.  I men they all like each other, they play with each other. However on any given day, sisters are fighting with sisters; older sister is fighting with little brother, middle sister is picking on little brother, or little brother is picking on sisters. Rarely do we, the parents, receive any warning.  Sometimes the fights are very loud and explicitly. Those we can deal with quickly rationally and fairly.  Our son has a stuffed animal which serves as his security blanket. He carries it around the house; it sleeps in bed with him. He has had this stuffed animal since he was 1 day old, so needless to say it is very significant to him. It happens, when he takes the stuffed animal out of his bed and walks around the house, he will put it down and then invariably forget where he left it. Needless to say that at least twice a week his bedtime is postponed while we look for the stuffed animal. Thankfully, we find it rather quickly and avoid significant distress. However the other day, ten year old was in a mood and was currently engaged in a fight with her brother. Seeing her little brother’s favorite stuffed animal lying around, she knowingly hid hit from him and from us as well. Obviously she hid the stuffed animal as a way of “getting back” at her brother for whatever injustice he perpetrated upon her.  She also knew that hiding the stuffed animal is about the meanest thing she could do to her brother. Yet she did it. When we finally found the stuffed animal and our daughter happily confessed to hiding it, there was no remorse. Instead there was only gloating; gloating because she understood that she had power over her brother because she could take away the most important thing in the world to him.  Of course when I shared my disappointment with her she began to cry and feel guilty. 
This week’s Parsha is Mishpatim. Moshe is still at Har Sinai. However the revelation that occurred with the giving of the Aseret Dibrot (Ten Commandments) is long gone. Instead, God has now started giving Moshe numerous laws that affect the day to day issues raised by human interaction. There are no smoking mountains, there is no shofar blowing, only God telling Moshe how to decide various legal matters including the damages to be paid if my ox gores your ox; two men are fighting near a pregnant woman and she gets hurt,   and how to treat to a Jewish servant to name just a few.  Moshe tells these laws to Bnai Yisroel and they respond with the words Naaseh v’Nishmah – we will do and learn.
Certainly there is far more to God’s covenant with Bnai Yisroel than our behavior towards God.  In fact the laws in Parsha Mishpatim focus almost entirely about how we treat each other.  Clearly the law recognizes that accidents happen, which does not necessarily mean that these accidents go unpunished.  There are other laws that are legislated which have nothing to do with accidents but rather situations that may arise in which we have to remind ourselves who needs our protection: widows and orphans especially.  Underlying all these laws is the assumption that we are supposed to appeal to our greater good, to the holiest aspect within ourselves rather than degrading ourselves due to negative emotions. Ki Tifgah Shor Oyvecha O Chamoro To’eh Hasheiv Tshivenu Lo – If you meet your enemy’s ox or mule going astray, then you must surely return the animal to him [your enemy (Ex. 23:4).  No matter how much you may dislike or even hate the person, if you see the person’s property you can’t keep, you can’t even just leave it where you found. Rather you must be pro-active and return the property to the legal owner.  The Torah recognizes that Bnai Yisroel will not always get along. Sometimes there will be fights, disagreements that may lead to genuine anger, bitterness or even hatred.  However we don’t let our emotions cloud our judgment that we are blocked from doing the appropriate thing- returning the found item.  We don’t use our enemy’s property in order to “get back” at our enemy or to “teach our enemy a lesson”. We must strive to be better than that. Yes of course we are human; yes of course we get angry. However being human doesn’t mean we succumb to human nature; rather we are supposed to strive towards our godly nature. Needless to say, the next time our daughter sees her brother’s favorite stuffed animal lying around; she understand that she will return it to him or put the stuffed animal on her brother’s bed. Sure, she can be mad at him, and fight with him, but just like she expects him to respect her property, she now understands that he is entitled to the same expectation.
Rav Yitz

No comments:

Post a Comment