Sometimes I find that life’s more difficult challenges are easier to handle than daily challenges or simpler challenges. When it’s something that is clearly out of my control, I am more likely to go with the flow and just accept the situation. But when it’s a daily issue, like trying to be patient as my kids tear up the house like Tasmanian Devils, it seems that I just can’t reach that level of letting go and acceptance that I should. I also notice that it’s much easier to look at someone else’s tests and clearly see what they need to do in order to overcome them. But for my own life, that’s another story.
My third son is turning three years old in a few days, Baruch Hashem. He is a beauty in every way- a wonderful, fun personality, and the face of an angel. But what gets me the most is his hair- his long, silky, platinum blonde hair. I can’t get enough of it. It’s a bit of an obsession, to be honest.
Jewish law states that a boy should not have his hair cut until he turns three years old. The first three years are a time when the soul of the boy is still not fully present in the body, and since hair has a deep spiritual purpose, it is best not to cut it until the boy has reached a certain level of maturity. Therefore, you may see boys with hair that would make any woman jealous, with their bouncy, gorgeous curls or silky straight perfection.
Over the past few weeks I have been driving myself crazy with a dilemma- should I cut his hair when he turns three, or should I wait until a later date? I was even thinking about pushing it as far as Lag B’Omer, when lots of little boys get their hair cut. I was back and forth over and over, tearing my heart up at the thought of having to say goodbye to my son’s angelic halo.
You may think it’s a ridiculous thing to worry about, and I agree. But like I said, sometimes the easy things are the hardest. Anyways, I found out that the only reason some boys get their hair cut later than their birthdays was because they were born on the Omer, and you can’t cut hair during that time, unless it’s on Lag B’Omer.
I’m so bummed.
But it made me realize something. When Hashem gave us the Torah, He knew it wouldn’t be easy to keep. He expected that we would resist much of what is written, simply because we can’t rationalize what’s expected of us. We can’t understand how, when we don’t work on Shabbat, our income will increase. Or, we can’t understand how, when we keep family purity, by limiting the amount of days we can have relations, we increase our chances of conceiving. How about tithing a minimum of 10% of our income? How in the world does giving away money bring us more money? All of these mitzvahs are proven to work, even though Hashem doesn’t owe us proof and they go completely against logic.
When Hashem told Avraham Avinu to sacrifice his son Isaac, what did Avraham do? Did he resist in any way? Did he say, “Hashem, I have to think about this. I don’t understand why You want me to do it, so I’m not going to do anything in the meantime.” No! He ran with all of the joy in the world to fulfill Hashem’s will. Even Isaac was willing and happy to be a sacrifice, if that was what Hashem wanted. Keep in mind that Isaac was 37 years old, and he could have physically resisted if he wanted to.
There are two major lessons to be learned from this: First, we should put our logic aside when it comes to mitzvot. Hashem is on an infinitely higher level than us in every single way. How can we expect to understand His logic? Rabbi Brody says, “If we had the same level of understanding as Hashem, then we would be Hashem!” That can’t be! So we must use our emuna to fill up the gap between our logic and the mitzvah that we’re performing.
The second lesson is that we should do our best not to miss an opportunity to do a mitzvah. We have no idea how many spiritual diamonds each mitzvah puts in our bank accounts. I just heard a great story from a friend of mine. There was a hidden tzaddik who everyone thought was a miser. When they realized after he passed away that he was secretly supporting half the town, the Rabbi begged his forgiveness, even though he was already in Shamayim. One night, Yosi the Miser came to the Rabbi in a dream, and said, “Don’t worry for me. I’m in a great place. Avraham , Yitzchak, Yaacov, and Moshe came to me and escorted my soul to a great Yeshiva, where I study the sublime secrets of creation. It’s amazing- but do you know what? I wish I could come back to earth just to give tzeddakah again. There was no better feeling in the world for me.” When we live in the world of Truth, we will be able to fully appreciate how valuable each mitzvah is. Until then, we must have total emuna in what we’re doing.
Back to my dilemma. The yetzer is so sneaky, and so good at what he does. Here I am, doing my best to distance myself from materialism and physicality as much as I can, and a challenge appeared that I was well on my way to failing. Why was I about to fail the test? Well, several reasons: First of all, I wasn’t willing to do what the Torah prescribes. The simple rule is that when a boy turns three, he gets his first haircut, along with tzitzis and a kippah. It’s a beautiful rite of passage that he will hopefully fondly remember for the rest of his life. Second, I put my personal desires before Hashem’s. I was basically telling Hashem that I don’t want to follow His directives because it’s uncomfortable for me. Third, I was putting myself in the picture. I am his mother, but his life is not about me. It is my responsibility to make sure that he gets every spiritual benefit possible. Where at all do I come into the picture? But, sadly, I focused more on how much I will miss his gorgeous angelic hair rather than being excited for him to enter a new phase in his life. Hashem, I am deeply sorry for my self-centered behavior. Please forgive me…
As a mother, it is easy to forget that these aren’t really my children. They are Your children, Hashem, and You have given me such unbelievable blessings by trusting me with their physical and spiritual welfare. Sometimes, it’s a hard test to put what I want for them aside and focus on what You want for them. Every day I try to remind myself that my children are on loan, and I must treat them with the same patience and courtesy as if I were watching someone else’s kids. But it’s easy to forget that they’re not mine.
So, G-d willing, this coming Tuesday, my son will no longer be a baby. I will miss this part of his life so much. He will now be a big boy, ready to enter the beautiful and infinite world of Torah and mitzvoth. Hashem, please bless him with a long, happy, and healthy life, in which his connection to You is first and foremost in his heart. Thank You for blessing me with such a wonderful and special boy.