5 Cheshvan 5781 / Friday, October 23, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
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Get to Work!    

Get to Work!

We would call someone who wants to make a living without working crazy and lazy. But when it comes to other things, suddenly we think that we can get results without working…


I Don’t Have Time

Someone goes to his Rabbi and says, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any income.” The Rabbi asks him, “Do you work?” The man answers, “No.” The Rabbi says, “I assume you are looking for a job, and can’t find one?” The man answers, “Oh, if I wanted to work, I have plenty of opportunities. But I don’t have any time to work. Morning prayers take so many hours, and by the time I’ve had breakfast and read the newspaper, it’s already lunch time... and on and on. I have such a full day, I don’t have any time left for work. What does Hashem want me to do exactly?”


A Big Joke – Or Direct Result

Obviously, such an answer is not acceptable. What does this lazy guy want – that cash should fall from Heaven onto his doorstep, without him doing a thing? On the other hand, he’s right – he’s far too busy to work… Either way, I don’t think any of us would agree with such excuses.


That being said, I want you to recognize that this is a parable for another situation, where we use the exact same reasoning, but in this case, no one finds the situation unacceptable. Rather, the reasoning is considered to be a valid excuse…


I am talking about raising our children. People complain about problems that they have with their children, but if you ask them, “So what are you doing about educating them?” the parents justify themselves, saying that they are so busy with their work, and they have so many things to take care of, and therefore, they have no time to invest in their children. And somehow, everyone accepts such reasoning. No one seems to realize that this answer is no less foolish and ridiculous, than the answer of the lazy bum who doesn’t have time to work.


I hope you can see that in both cases the undesirable results are directly caused by the original actions (or lack thereof). Just as you cannot complain that working is too hard or time-consuming for you, and therefore G-d must provide for you using unnatural means, so too, you cannot expect that G-d will raise your children for you, since you are too busy to do so yourself!


Let’s be even more frank: Deep in your heart, working and making a living is important to you. But raising your children, is less so. Therefore, for something that is considered to be less critical, you are simply not available to put your energy into it.


Order of Priorities

Our lives are frazzled and rushed. We simply cannot accomplish everything that we need to do, forget about what we want to do. Therefore, our lives run according to our priorities. We give priority to the things we find important, and somehow find the time to ensure that they get done. The lower down on the list, the less likely it is to get done now, or ever, or as regularly as we otherwise might like. Therefore, if educating your children was really important – you would find the time for it!


We find that in the Torah portion of Matot that the tribes of Reuven and Gad ask Moshe Rabbeinu if they can settle the fertile land on the other side of the Jordan River that the Jewish people just conquered. In their request, they say that they will first build protected areas for their flocks, and then cities for their families. They put the primary importance on their livelihood, and gave it preference over worrying about the needs of their children.


Moshe Rabbeinu was utterly shocked: The children come first!!! What is going on? Of course income is important, but you can’t get your priorities reversed. First you are to build cities, and only then worry about protected areas for your flocks!


Where are You Investing?

This is a message that all of us must take to heart. You can learn all sorts of advice and great ideas about how to raise your children and educate them properly. But if you are not willing to invest your time and effort – then you can’t expect anything! No different than someone who doesn’t work cannot expect to have income. And if you want to tell me that you don’t have time, then you need to realize that the big issue is not really time, but your own priorities.


And if you really do want to fix the situation with your children (or prevent them) – this is where you must start. Re-consider and re-work your daily schedule according to what your priorities should be, so that the most important things comes first, and the secondary is made – secondary. Then, you will certainly find time for the most important thing – which is your children! Because ultimately, your life is determined by your priorities.


Now, some of you might respond, “What about the schools? Isn’t educating the children their job?” The truth is, that having a school system which keeps the children busy during a large portion of their day starting from age 3, does make things easier for us. However, this does not cancel our responsibility to invest time and energy in our children! In the end-all and be-all, your children’s teachers do not bear responsibility, or suffer, if your child ends up on a negative path. But you do. As the phrase goes, at the end of the day, you sleep in the bed – not the teacher.


The Proper Investment

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you. So now you are wondering: What is the first thing you need to make time for? PRAYER. Every single day – prayer and more prayer – by both parents.


You might think that your children are sheltered by their school, but it’s absolutely not true. Even in the best schools, you need a lot of Divine Assistance (seata Dishmaya) that your children should have only good friends and good relationships with excellent teachers who know how to educate with love and encouragement. That’s not to even talk about your children being saved by the very serious dangers that lurk in every corner, both physically and spiritually. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard too many stories of tragedies that have happened in even the best places – sometimes even because of one single child who led them astray.


Pray about everything! Ask G-d to help your children have good teachers, and a good relationship with them. To have only good friends, who come from good, upstanding families. To find fantastic schools that will meet the unique needs of each child. That your child should have Divine Assistance, along with their teachers and staff. Rebbe Nachman teaches in The Aleph-Bet Book (Sefer HaMiddot) that when you pray for someone, they come to love you. When your child’s teacher loves you because you prayed for them - they will invest more in your child! And of course, pray that your child will love to learn Torah, have fear of Heaven, have emuna, and come close to Hashem.


You cannot be with your child 24/7. Ultimately, you don’t know everything that goes on with them while they are away from you. But if you pray for them – those prayers will accompany them wherever they go!


A Final Note

I don’t want to minimize the importance of making time for your children on a practical level as well. You must be in regular contact with your child’s teacher, to oversee their progress and tackle problems while they are still small. You need to oversee both their studies, and their character traits, and work to mold them into upright, good human beings. You must always have your “finger on the pulse”! And of course, to simply talk to them. Make sure that you have private time for each child at least once a week as well.


According to the effort is the reward! May you be rewarded with pleasure from your children, and their children, amen!


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