"We are closer to G-d when we are asking the questions, than when we think we have the answers" Heschel

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The power of being a parent

FNQ - thought of the week

Why is it that it my entire purpose in this world seems to have dramatically changed now that there is a human being who is my child?

I would like to attempt to share a thought on the above question. Concerning the other 4 questions which are more practical parenting issues come back in 50 years and maybe I will have something intelligent to say about them.

In the months before my son was born Aviva and I were constantly told that when you have a child everything changes. I am fairly certain that they were referring to the more mundane things such as the amount of sleep you get, sitting down to meals together, going out and even going away for shabbos. Without a doubt these things have changed. But the real transformation that I have experienced with a child in my life is much much deeper.

The Rabbis teach us that every person is obligated to say to himself that the world was created for him. One of the most basic missions that man has is to achieve an understanding that the fate of the world is in his hands. Only through man's free choices to do and be good can the world reach its destined state of perfection. When we appreciate our personal dominion over the world we undoubtedly should feel empowered. After all, only to man amongst all His creations did G-d give this unparalleled power. But there is another side to this statement. We are not only powerful but we are responsible. Only those who are free to choose can be culpable for their choices and only those who comprehend this awesome burden can ever hope to be proper caretakers and fixers of the world.

Up until two weeks ago I knew these ideas on an intellectual level. I knew that as a Jew I have unique responsibilities and that the world looks to me and my people to be models of proper moral conduct. What I did not really understand was how powerful I truly am and how impactful my choices can be. Two weeks and one child later the intellectual ideas are real and have taken on an entirely new level of meaning.

Our Rabbis teach that one singular person has the value of an entire world. Therefore if you save one life it is as if you have saved the world. Perhaps one person has such high value because the potential to bring about the perfection of the world lies within each of us.

Two weeks later there is a little world in this very big world that is my responsibility. There is a little, living, breathing, 10 pound, world that is dependent on me and cannot possibly hope to exist if I, and his amazing mother, don't transform our lives to serve his every need. Perhaps G-d commanded man to have children so that he would understand a little of the awesome burden of being the caretaker of a world. Perhaps G-d hoped that through the endeavor of parenting man would come to the realization that it is within him to raise and nurture worlds to their maturity and potential. And maybe now I can reach my own potential and transform myself into a person who can claim to be a caretaker and fixer of the world.

What do you think?

Binyamin – always looking for a good question

1 comment:

  1. this was a lovely post and true testament to how very much things change once your little bundle arrives! as you said, in mundane ways, but so much more. suddenly every decision has a different, additional purpose and teachable moment. in one word, it is: amazing. mazel tov and good luck!