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Rabbi Greisman's Blog

What's he crying about?

A short clip I received this week shows a well known TV personality that asked a group of parents to film their kids while they were telling them that they had eaten all of their candy from last week and capture their reactions on camera. It was very entertaining to watch how the children react; some cry and others kick and turn chairs over... but the last child on the clip just says "Its fine, Mommy. Really, it's fine."

What our kids cry for and about, is telling about us, their parents, too. While all kids will crave candy and avoid brushing their teeth, it is the parents' priorities and consistency that sets the decibel level of the tantrum and length of the melt-down. When you see a child throwing a twenty minute fit down the candy aisle, you can't help but assume he or she is used to being given a lot of candy on a fairly regular basis...

Recently, I was in Walmart with my 2 year old, Moshe. At the checkout lane I noticed the battery display and reminded myself that we needed some batteries, so I threw a package in the cart. Moshe looks at me, and yells: Tatty, don't take that! It's not kosher!

He is only two, but he's been told enough times regarding items at the checkout lane that they are not kosher. So while he still likes candy, he knows that the checkout lane is not kosher.

There's a story the Lubavitcher Rebbe liked to tell about a five-year-old child and a 99-year-old man. The child was Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneerson, born on the 20th of Cheshvan 5621 (1860), who served as the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe from 1882 until his passing in 1920. The 99-year-old man lived 36 centuries earlier; his name was Abraham and he was the first Jew.

The story goes like this:

On the occasion of his fourth or fifth birthday, Rabbi Sholom DovBer visited his grandfather, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch. Upon entering his grandfather's room, the child burst into tears. His teacher in cheder had taught them that week's Torah reading, Vayeira, which begins, "And G-d revealed himself to Abraham..." Why, wept the child, doesn't G-d reveal Himself to me?

Rabbi Menachem Mendel replied: "When a Jew, a tzaddik, realizes at the age of 99 that he must circumcise himself -- that he must continue to perfect himself -- he is worthy that G-d should reveal Himself to him."

The Rebbe must have told this story dozens of times. The story, followed by a discussion of the manifold meanings and lessons the Rebbe saw in it, was a regular feature of the farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) he held each year on or near the anniversary of Rabbi Sholom DovBer's birthday, which is always around this week's Parsha, Vayeira.

Imagine: a five year old weeping because G-d doesn't reveal Himself to Him!

I don't know if we can get our children to do THAT! But it sure gives us an idea of what our direction should be. To paraphrase an old cliché: You are what your children cry about!

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