Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 )
Lessons our parents taught us.
GOOD MORNING! I received a "Humor Email" on lessons we learned from our parents (which I will share in part below). I found it funny, but the more I thought about it the more I found it troubling. Why funny? In my analysis of humor -- which is far from comprehensive -- something is funny for at least two reasons: 1) The unexpected response 2) There's an element of truth in that unexpected response. Why did I find it troubling -- for the same two reasons!
Perhaps a paraphrase of a quote I remember from W.C. Fields will demonstrate. W.C. Fields was an actor, a comedian, a juggler ... and an alcoholic. He once said to the effect, "I drank scotch and water and got drunk; I drank bourbon and water and got drunk; I drank gin and water and got drunk. You know what I learned? Stay away from water!"
One can learn the wrong lessons in life. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with children learning from their parents. Here is the tongue-in-cheek email:
"Lessons" Our Parents Taught Us
My mother taught me Religion: "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
My father taught me Logic: "Because I said so, that's why."
My mother taught me More Logic: "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
My father taught me Irony: "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
My mother taught me about Doing the Impossible: "Close your mouth and eat your supper."
My mother taught me about Perseverance: "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."
My mother taught me about the Weather: "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."
My father taught me about Exaggerating: "If I told you once, I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate!"
My mother taught me about Anticipation: "Just wait until your father gets home."
My mother taught me Ophthalmology: "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."
My mother taught me How to Become an Adult: "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."
My father taught me about Justice: "One day you'll have kids, and they will be just like you!"
The element of truth is that these are not the lessons our children would learn from those parental statements. Children would learn fear, resentment, frustration, lack of respect, rebelliousness -- almost anything but the love and respect for their parents and the lessons that were meant to be taught.
Love for children is innate. Love for parents has to be earned. It can't be demanded or dictated. Writes Rabbi Abraham Twerski, "If parents act in a way that merits their children's admiration, they will receive their love. Such children are likely to avoid doing anything that will distress their parents. Any parent who relies on authority to make his children do his wishes may find himself disillusioned and disappointed. Children who obey their parents out of fear, whether if be fear of punishment of incurring their disapproval or feel that parental demands of them are excessive are likely to rebel, leave and go in their own way."
Our children have to know that we love them. There are times we must discipline them, but we must treat them with respect -- to listen to them, to discuss, to empathize -- but not to react out of anger. Only then will the discipline be effective and have the desired results.
Aikev, Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Moshe continues his discourse guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success, lest we forget and ignore God.
Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness -- "Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to possess this land ... but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you." (Deut. 9:5). He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments during the sin of the Golden Calf.)
This week's portion dispels a common misconception. People think that "Man does not live by bread alone" means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, "Man does not live by bread alone ... but by all that comes out of God's mouth" (Deut. 8:3).
The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does God want of you? "Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God's commandments and decrees ... so that all good will be yours" (Deut. 10:12).
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from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.
The Torah states:
"You shall not bring an abomination into your home" (Deut. 7:26).
The Torah is instructing the Israelites to destroy the idols and their appurtenances which are called abominations.
The Talmud (Shabbos 105b) says that if one goes into a rage, it is equivalent of idol worship. The above commandment, therefore, applies to rage as well. Rage is an abomination. Do not bring it into your home.
When Reb Zeira's students asked him to what he ascribed his longevity, he said, "I never expressed anger in my home" (Megilla 28). It may at times be necessary to reprimand -- even sharply rebuke -- someone for doing wrong, and this may give the appearance of anger. However, this should be an outward manifestation rather than a true rage response.
The Talmud says that rage deprives a wise person of wisdom and a prophet of prophesy. "All the forces of hell dominate someone in rage" (Nedarim 2a). What could be more ruinous? Rage is so pernicious that on three occasions it distorted Moses' judgment, and according to Rambam, was the transgression which resulted in Moses' not being permitted to enter the Promised Land.
"The gentle words of the wise are heard ...." (Ecclesiastes 9:17). One might think that shouting achieves obedience. Quite the contrary. Even if it produces momentary compliance, it may turn the listener against the enraged person.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 6:09 - Hong Kong 6:40 - Honolulu 6:46
J'Burg 5:29 - London 8:12 - Los Angeles 7:26
Melbourne 5:23 - Mexico City 7:49 - Miami 7:41
New York 7:41 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 8:09
Anger is one letter away from ... danger!