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This Is It

Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19 )

by Rabbi Stephen Baars

The real way to protect your kids from drugs.

I haven't seen Michael Jackson's movie "This is it." However, I am 236% certain he didn't have a clue what "it" really is. Although he probably knew what "it" wasn't.

This week's parsha is about "it."

When in your life were you the happiest and you knew it?

I am not talking about looking back on your life to past events that you realize now brought you happiness, but at the time didn't seem so great. The question I want you to ponder is, what moment in your life were you the happiest AND you knew at that time you were deeply and truly happy?

I would bet your answer was neither illegal, illicit or immoral. In fact, nothing competes with that kind of happiness. Not even drugs. That is "it."

So why do children choose drugs?

Because you haven't taught them what "it" is and how to get there. Teaching how to achieve "it," is what a real Jewish education, and frankly Judaism, is all about. And in as much as we don't teach our children how to achieve "it," our children become open to the possibility that drugs can replace "it."

To quote my good friend, Rabbi Moshe Cohen from Aish LA, "The biggest subject in the Torah, by far, is the building of the home for God." One could easily be misled in reading its description in this week's parsha as just a story of wood, curtains and metal. But you would be missing the single greatest pleasure a human being can attain. King David’s greatest aspiration was to "...dwell in the house of God all the days of my life." (Psalms 27:4)

Let us contemplate the mechanics of such a structure. Wouldn't the house of God be a place of such extreme serenity, ultimate clarity, immense and sublime earthly beauty? Wouldn't that be an overwhelming achievement of existence? Who dares dream of creating a place on this good earth so exalted and transcendent that God Himself deems fitting to dwell?

Isn't that really what the noblest of people strive for - to create a society so elevated in their humanity that they reach the very heavens while still on earth?

Isn't that "it"?

The other day we had a family over for dinner. The father sat anxiously as his 13 year old son poured himself a little wine. At one point the father reprimanded his son, "That's too much!" he said.

I think we all know what was going on. The father doesn't see his son pouring wine. He sees, or fears, where this small amount of wine will lead him: a homeless Joe under a bridge with a bottle of rubbing alcohol in a brown paper bag.

I am 237% in support of shielding children from everything bad in the world. I am also 238% certain, that if your children don't learn where the real pleasures of life are, and know how to achieve them, then they will search for and find the fake alternatives (aka drugs) when you are not looking - which is most of the time.

All of us are seeking "it." Teach your children what "it" really is, so they don't become like Michael Jackson or Joe (under the bridge), who find out what "it" really isn't.

* * *


Question 1: If you were to meet the happiest person that ever lived, what question would you ask?

Question 2: What question would the happiest person ask you?

Question 3: Have a family debate, who is the happiest person you have ever personally met?

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