5 Tamuz 5781 / Tuesday, June 15, 2021 | Torah Reading: Chukat
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White and Bright - Hitbodedut for Parents    

White and Bright - Hitbodedut for Parents

Why is a white shirt a metaphor for the soul? Day to day we go through so much emotional wear and tear that our souls really need to go to the cleaners…


We just celebrated my daughter's first birthday. It has been a year of ups and downs. My wife needed her thyroid gland removed immediately after her pregnancy, plus another surgery. Our baby also needed to have a brace put on to help her hip bone attach properly to her leg bone. It was a huge year for doctor visits. I don’t know how I could have done it all without personal prayer.


I’m sure you can all relate to a time in your life where you became extremely wrapped up in something important to you. Maybe it was the birth of a child, or a new important job, whatever it was, did you ever reach your breaking point? I did last month. Trying to be the best husband I could, I was doing my best to change diapers, take the baby on walks, wake up in the middle of the night, get my exercise routine in, clean the floor, go to work, etc. All was well, until I just couldn’t move one morning. I had been hit with complete exhaustion. My body felt like it had a fever and I was bed ridden for nearly three days.  I had no strength and couldn’t accomplish anything.


Now that I am feeling better I am trying to bounce back since my rhythm was really offset. But what has kept me in line throughout this past year is none other than a steady daily session of personal prayer. I try to do this early in the morning before the baby and wife wake up so that its quiet and I can focus. Plus by doing so you aren’t taking away time from any of your responsibilities to them. But if you do this, make sure to get in a nap later in the day, a sleepy Dad is an ineffective Dad.


Why does Rebbe Nachman place so much emphasis on personal prayer (see Likutei Moharan II:25)? Isn’t committing to an hour a day too strict, too much? I hear that, but I’ve tasted the success with it and can attest to the miracles of having a mini-Shabbat daily. It is also fair to say that unless you have really been in a situation where you have no one else to turn to but Hashem, it can sound too serious. But if we all objectively looked at our day, we really owe so much to Hashem, at least to say thank you for all we have. Are you like me? When Shabbat comes you put on that shiny ironed white shirt and you feel like a million bucks? Then after the third meal you go pray the evening service, make Havdalah and finish Shabbat. How does your shirt look then? If you are like me it’s got stains of wine, fish and sauces all over. If you think about it, it’s just a shirt, but really it’s a metaphor for us. Day to day we go through so much emotional wear and tear that our souls really need to go to the ‘cleaners.’ The solution is to take that hour, and just share with Hashem what’s been going on in the day from the morning till your current situation. Say thank you for what you have, make amends on any mistakes you did, and request for the future. It’s that easy, and it will keep your soul sparkling clean. I promise!


Parents today have a lot of work, we are fighting different battles constantly. I suggest reading “Garden of Education” by Rabbi Shalom Arush. If I were to sum up the book very briefly it would be “Work on yourself to always be happy, and your kids will follow your path.” Unfortunately for me, I don’t see enough happy kids following the path of Torah. They feel forced and that they are losing out. Maybe you and I as parents can change that. It’s you and I against their secret Facebook addiction. Who will win? It depends if we start to wear a smile.


If you feel stressed out, and even Torah learning isn’t bringing you to joy, it’s time to shake yourself off. What I mean is start having fun your way. Rebbe Nachman mentions that sometimes in order to maintain your happiness you need to let loose. Some great things to do are the following:


1. Make a new playlist of your favorite music and then listen to it while you go for a personal prayer session.


2. Enjoy a good chocolate bar or hot cup of coffee and then go exercise for an hour.


3. Look up clean jokes to memorize and share with your loved ones.


4. Surprise your children, play fun music in the house and dance with them.


While fighting the ups and downs of life, always remember that by fighting for your joy, success will shortly follow after.

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