Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Can We Prevent Our Kids From Dropping the Tablets Because "They're Too Heavy"?

Since Thursday, I have been chewing over the quote that Chana, from the Curious Jew blog, brought from Off the Derech, by Faranak Margolese.

This was a letter that a recently rebellious son left for his father after they had started to reconcile with one another:

Dear Father,

We are both blind. You don't always see how much I have done for you and I don't always see how much you taught me. But you think that I took the Tablets and I just threw them to the ground. That's not what happened. They were too heavy and they simply dropped from my hands.

First, I have to say that I definitely have to recommend Off the Derech to every parent, future parent, teacher, or future teacher. As I have written before, I think that no one can afford to take for granted that any given child will always stay "on the derech" and therefore one helpful strategy that should permeate parenting is keeping in mind some of the factors that are commonly associated with kids going off the derech, and then planning out one's life and parenting so as to avoid those mistakes.

That being said, I would like to darshen this young man's words a little bit. If observance ("The Tablets") really were too heavy to carry, then everyone would go off the derech. The problem is not that they are too heavy. The problem is when they are made to seem too heavy, or that to a specific child/young person, they seem too heavy.

As I said the comment section of my recent post on why people to away to hotels for Pesach, any amount of avodah seems burdensome when it is merely seen as drudgery. When parents and teachers create a Yiddishkeit that is full of negative associations, guilt, pressure and judging, then halachic observance will feel "too heavy" and may slip out of the hands of the next generation.

Our job as Jews is to live a Yiddishkeit and teach a Yiddishkeit to our kids that is positive, full of love, and is designed al pi darko, specifically for each person so that no one feels like they are a square peg being shoved in a round hole. That way, we can avoid bringing up our children in an environment of "negative Yiddishkeit."

Negative Yiddishkeit is one major problem when raising our children and ourselves. Empty Yiddishkeit is another major problem that I want to write a little bit about tomorrow. I would say that negative Yiddishkeit is a larger problem in the "frummer" parts of the frum community and that empty Yiddishkeit is the larger problem in the more modern or less frum parts of the frum community. Although I think that much of the time, both problems exist in both communities.

More tomorrow...

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Izbitza said...

The izbitzer (Beis Yaakov) says about the mitzvos of prika (loading an animal when it's packages are falling off) and tei'na (unloading an animal which is being crushed under its load) that everybody needs both. Sometimes you meet a person whose load has fallen off- they no longer feel the yoke of yiddishkeit it's a mitzva to load them up, to remind them of the heaviness of yiddishkeit. But then, you meet someone who is being crushed- then it is a mitzvah to undload them- to remind them that Hashem loves them and is proud of the progress that they are making. said...

The statement should be rephrased as , "too heavy for me...".

Tzvi Haber said...

Interesting analogy, the Miforshim explain that the reason why Moshe dropped the Luchos was because they were too heavy. Once Klal Yisroel sinned he was no longer able to hold the Luchos due to sheer physical weight.

Neil said...

Great post. I'd like to add that the whole "They were too heavy and they simply dropped from my hands" thing is interesting when you think about the parable of the Dubno Magid referenced in the first chap of the second vol of Bilvavi. The mashul, only hinted to, is about a man who as the porter bring his belongings up to his hotel room...the punchline is "if you they are too heavy, then you brought up the wrong items".

yitz.. said...

I was thinking along the lines of what Tzvi Haber said, only I assumed the son was actually referring to that peirush and he's actually a bright kid [with the finesse and nuance to understand and express the subtle difference between the two views] who's buckling under the pressure.