Thursday, January 30, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Terumah
30 Shevat (1 Rosh Chodesh Adar I) 5774/January 31, 2014

It’s an age-old women’s question:  Why when a woman cares for her children is it called ‘watching my kids’, but when a man watches his children he tells everyone he’s babysitting?
Hashem created everyone with their talents, and women are granted an innate ability to be mothers. Men are good at a lot of things too. But watching their children alone can be an extreme challenge for many men. For one, taking care of children requires multitasking, something which men aren’t legendary for. It also often requires dealing with flaring emotions and a lack of rationality, which men aren’t always good at either (just ask their wives). Whatever the reason is, many men have a particularly hard time watching their children. When they refer to it as babysitting it makes them feel like they’re doing a chesed, which helps them feel altruistic. Perhaps they also like to pretend that they are going to get some sort of compensation for doing it (like being allowed to sleep in their house that night).
I was thinking about this recently, because Chani went to a Melave Malka on Motzei Shabbos last week, and I was left home with our children. Call my watching them whatever you want, but I was about to call a babysitter for backup. The truth is that the older four were fine. But our four month old son, Dovid, wasn’t happy with me. Suffice it to say that he spent the majority of our time together sobbing and screaming. His flustered and frustrated father tried everything to calm him down, including giving him two bottles, holding him in different positions, pushing him in the stroller, playing music, etc.  but it was all to no avail. Let’s just say it was a rough night for both of us.
The next morning when I arrived home from shul, and walked into the kitchen, Dovid was swinging back and forth in his swing. I was sure when he saw me he would burst into tears, the way our children cry when their pediatrician merely walks into the room. I was pleasantly surprised when he looked at me and smiled one of the cooing smiles that melts a parent’s heart.  There is definitely an advantage to not being cognitively developed enough to be able to bear a grudge.
We state each morning in shacharis that Hashem “renews every day constantly, the workings of creation.” Not only does Hashem give the world renewed energy to function each day, but He also invests a spirit of ‘newness’ into the world. No matter what I did or how I acted yesterday, I can renew and recommit myself to rectify yesterday and proceed with today. 
The effective parent/teacher greets his/her children each morning with a smile that conveys a feeling of happiness that they will have the chance to spend time together. There are unquestionably certain children who make it difficult for the parent/teacher to do so. For such children it requires great focusing on the child’s good qualities, some forced temporary amnesia to overlook previous confrontations and struggles, and some prayer for Divine assistance. A child can sense when he/she is wanted and welcomed. It is especially vital to help the child who least deserves it feel wanted and loved.
Our goal is imitatio Dei, to be like G-d. Thankfully, G-d grants us a new opportunity each morning, despite what we have done until now. If we can give that sense of newness to those we interact with, we are indeed divine!  
      Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
      R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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