Thursday, February 17, 2011

KI SISA 5771

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Sisa


14 Adar I 5771/Febuary 18, 2011

We have made a startling discovery: Our home is rigged. There are little microphones and video cameras stationed throughout our home, recording almost everything we say and do. Those little cameras are there when we wake up in the morning, when we come back home at night, and when we are eating supper. The only respite we have is when we send the video cameras off to school so they can video and record their teachers.

Indeed there is much to be learned from our children… about ourselves. At times we can hear certain phrases and certain responses from our children which we discontentedly realize originate from us.

What makes it even more challenging is that our children don’t always use the best discretion in knowing when to repeat some of our comments, and maybe even shenanigans. I am quite sure that almost every parent has their own humorous/embarrassing story that they can remember. [Rabbi Krohn relates the story about the Pre-1A boy who was the ‘Shabbos Totty’ in school. He sat down at the head of the class’s mock Shabbos table, let out a groan, and declared, “Oiy! Ich hub g’hatt aza shverer voch (What a hard week I had).”]

It is advisable that parents know a different language so they can converse at home and not worry about their children understanding them. A friend of mine told me that when he was young he thought that’s what Yiddish was for. But after a while he did learn some key phrases, like, “Der bandit darff a frask een punim (The troublemaker needs a slap across his face),” or “Nisht fahrr d’kinder (It’s not for the children)”.

When I was a young boy living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, my family would head off to a bungalow colony up in the Catskills for the summer. Unlike today when bungalows are often nicer than people’s winter homes, we went to a real bungalow which was not much bigger than a shoebox. We also had to share the bungalow with the salamanders and frogs we snuck past my mother, and the mice that snuck past us.

To our chagrin, my father requested that my mother not leave on a crock pot with cholent on it, because it would cause the bungalow to become even hotter than it already was. Our neighbors took pity on the deprived Staum family and they would send over bowls of cholent.

It was a wonderful setup. The bungalow did not have to get hotter and we usually wound up with five or six different cholents. We would sample each one and then would convene and vote whether the cholent passed our taste test for that week.

The only problem was that my younger sister would recount our rulings to the master chefs after Shabbos was over. “Mrs. Greenstein, you only got a 4 this week. Did you forgot the salt?” “Mrs. Cohn, only a 3, the meat was stuck to the bowl because it was so dried out.” “Mrs. Silversmith, you got a 2. Was that cholent or gefilte fish you sent us?” “Mrs. Katz, a perfect 5; your cholent won first place this week!”

Chani, a beloved fifth grade teacher, tells some of her student’s parents when they come to meet her for Parent-Teacher conferences, “Let’s make a deal. You don’t believe half of what your daughter says about me, and I won’t believe half of what they say about you.” In recent years we have begun making that same deal with our children’s teachers.

Parenting is undoubtedly a great responsibility. But aside for the obvious, we have to realize and remember just how much our children look up to us. At times it can be somewhat overwhelming. But in truth, as Torah Jews, we anyways have a responsibility to watch how we speak and act. Our young children are only abetting that responsibility. Thanks Kids!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum