Thursday, January 20, 2011

YISRO 5771

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Yisro

16 Shevat 5771/January 23, 2011

There have been many incredible inventions in the last century, including cars, planes, computers, internet, and the proliferation of electronic devices. The medical world too has seen its share of incredible advancements, including improved diagnostic imaging testing, minimally invasive laser surgery and laparoscopic procedures. But I believe that Earle Dickson’s invention in 1921 is of the greatest of all time, i.e. the Band-Aid.

Just ask any young child who hurts himself. It doesn’t matter what the ailment is or whether there is any blood or not. Give a crying child a band-aid and the hysterical howling seems to cease instantly. And if the band-aid has a picture of a cartoon character on it the healing is even more pronounced.

When we moved into our home a few years ago, one of the sinks in the upstairs bathroom had a small spot which had rotted and left an unsightly streak. A few days after we moved in I noticed a ‘Snoopy band-aid’ covering the spot. Apparently one of our children had figured out a cheap and effective way to solve the problem.

What is it about band-aids that makes them into a virtual panacea?

Infants live with the concept of “out of sight, out of mind’. When they cannot see something they no longer believe it exists. As a child matures he begins to realize that something can exist even outside his purview of vision. But that process is slow. [A child also thinks that everyone can see what he sees. Ever tell a three year old child to move over because he is blocking someone else’s view of something? The child may be slow to move because he cannot fathom that someone behind him can’t see what he can see.]

The sight of blood or a bruise is somewhat traumatic. Often a child will fall and hurt himself then get up and continue what he was doing unfazed. Five minutes later, if he notices that he is bleeding, he may begin to cry uncontrollably. Putting a band-aid on the wound effectively conceals the wound. Out of sight, out of mind! So to the child the band-aid has cured his ailment, even though it has done nothing more than obscure it.

At times we approach more serious and pronounced problems by utilizing ‘a band-aid approach’. For example, if a child loses his temper, it is important to ponder the source of his anger. There is a significant difference in how to deal with a child who became angry because someone embarrassed him and a child who became angry because his classes are too difficult for him.

The band-aid effect can easily become dangerous as well, such as when someone uses drugs or alcohol to quell anxiety or severe depression, G-d forbid. The pain may temporarily ease, but whatever the core problem is has not been dealt with and the wound will surely not heal.

Please don’t get me wrong. I think band-aids are wonderful. But more often than not you better make sure you apply some Bacitracin/Hydrogen-Peroxide to the wound before you cover it with a cartoon-character-laden band-aid.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum