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   29 Tishrei 5775 / Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Torah Reading Noach       
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HomeFamilyChildren and EducationThe Old Neighborhood
The Old Neighborhood
By: Dr. Zev Ballen

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My friend has a son who he loves dearly.  From the moment of his birth, my friend has loved and sheltered his child from harmful influences.  When the boy was about ten, my friend moved his family to an ultra-orthodox neighborhood, and further insulated his son from the world-at-large. One day, Alan told his father that he wanted to go back to the old neighborhood to visit his childhood friends.  His father was against it, but Alan was determined to go.  Alan left his father to explore his roots. He missed his old friends and was curious about the life that his parents had led before he was born.
My friend knew that Hashem was leading his son in this way, so he turned to Hashem with tears saying: "Hashem, I know that it's You who is taking my child to that place where You Yourself won't dwell - and I know that I can't stop You, though I wish that I could. I know that You are testing me, Hashem, and You are testing my son too. So I'm begging You, G-d of Mercy - return my precious child to me at once!"
The boy arrived at the Los Angeles airport and his uncle picked him up. Alan's uncle immediately lavished him with attention. He took him straight to the shopping mall and bought him expensive gifts. When they got home, Alan prayed the mincha service and unpacked some of his food from Israel. "Why do you have to eat that food?" asked the uncle. "And why do you have to pray three times a day? Do you really think that G-d cares about these things?" "Of course He cares", Alan answered. "I'm doing these things for Him."  "Oh that's ridicules, said the Uncle, you've been brainwashed. There's so much in life that you're missing. Your parents haven't educated you properly. But I'll take you out and show you how to have fun. I want you to enjoy your stay with me. Now is the time to expand your horizons, Alan. We'll go horseback riding and then I'll take you to a club where they have music that you'll really love." Then he took the boy to his room and said: "Douglas is away, you can stay in his room, Alan. There's a computer in it. I know that teenagers can't be without a computer. You'll have complete privacy to do whatever you want here." Alan closed the door and felt a deep sadness. He never felt more alone in his life.
As he looked up at the computer, Alan's heart froze. He understood the new "privilege" he had been given. On the wall was a big poster of some teenage celebrity, who he did not recognize, smoking marijuana.  Alan thought: "Where in the world am I?  What's going to be with me in this place?" Alan hated where he was and he wanted to go home - back to his parents and the holy city. So what did he do? With help from Heaven, he picked up the phone and called his mother - a woman who loves him no matter what. "Mom, I made a terrible mistake. I can't stand this place. You wouldn't believe what's going on here. I can't stay here another minute. Please help me. I want to come home!
Is this not the greatest Blessing that a mother could have? Her child's heart is breaking, and he is running to her and not someone else.
Before she sinned, Eve knew that Hashem wanted her to bring children into the world. Eve decided that the greatest gift that she could give her children would be the ability to teach them  right from wrong -  so she ate from the tree of knowledge  - obviously that was not what Hashem wanted a mother to be.
My Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Arush, may his name be Blessed, says that parents cannot teach their children anything about what is right and wrong - Hashem teaches them that when they have parents who love them. The purpose of a mother and a father are to love their children and to be one with them when their hearts are breaking. That is everything. Thank G-d, even at 17, Alan had not forgotten how to cry to his mother and in that merit Hashem saved Alan from a test that few teenagers would pass. When the Messiah will come, may it be speedily in our days, the whole world will know that there is no choice except to be like Alan. They will all know that what Hashem wants most  is that we bond together in love. He will take care of the rest. It is not complicated.
Our children need someone to talk to who will feel at one with their pain without sermonizing. This is what brings them relief. Hashem wants that person to be the child's mother or father and not the first person that he meets on the street. There is great pain in having children but there is also no greater joy. How do you get close with your children? There is only one way. Close your eyes and pray...pray...pray to the One and only One who can make it so. 
May the Lord Bless you with the Blessing of Alan's mother, and may your children be Blessed to run to you and only you.
* * * 
Dr. Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita.  He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns  in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Dr. Zev Ballen at: or call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line). You're welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.



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