3 Shvat 5781 / Saturday, January 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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Who's Not Listening?    

Who's Not Listening?

Whenever he watched TV, he noticed that his daughter wouldn't listen to a thing he said the next day. It turned out though that the child wasn't the one who wasn't listening…


In the course of praying for my children, I try to thank Hashem every day for the gift of reading The Garden of Education. Without it, my children would have succeeded in driving me crazy.


The most important aspect for me of the The Garden of Education was learning that my children are my spiritual mirrors just like my wife. Rabbi Shalom Arush explains that while my wife mainly reflects my relationship with Hashem (my attitude and feelings towards Him), my children reflect my daily service of Hashem and what’s lacking in my actions. By learning to look at my children as my mirrors, with Emuna, I’m able to cope better with their behavior. I use their misbehavior to correct my own behavior. Once I see them as just reflecting my own poor behaviors back at me, it’s easier not to get angry or resentful towards them when they misbehave. Here’s a great example:


The other night I was trying to give my two girls a bath while they were both having trouble listening. I could feel my patience slipping, as I kept having to ask them both to stand up and stay still, while I lathered them up and rinsed them off. My older daughter was too busy playing with her toys. While I was busy asking her more and more loudly to stand up, she was off in fantasy land with her two toys on their latest adventure. After four or five times of asking, she finally stood up so I could soap her up. Then it was my little one’s turn. When I asked her to stand up, she was paying attention. She looked me right in the face and deliberately didn’t budge. It took asking her four or five times as well as including threats of no TV show before bed before she finally stood up. I found myself getting irritated and annoyed inside but after many previous failed nights of losing my temper, I’ve learned to just hold off until I have a moment to talk it out with Hashem.


When they were both settled and taken care of, I sat down to work their behavior out the Emuna way. My older daughter had been pre-occupied. She was just too busy playing to pay attention to me. It was almost not her fault, like a complete accident. I asked Hashem to show me where I had not been listening to Him in a similar fashion. The answer came in a flash: my own exercise regimen. Rabbi Lazer Brody had already told me to cut down on the powerlifting and bodybuilding type routines and stick to crosstraining and functional fitness. I had come to see on my own as well how the former styles only contributed to my own ego aggrandizement.


But it has been really hard for me to let go. Being known for being big and strong has been a part of my identity for so long. It’s been a real sacrifice of self to go into the gym with only the purpose of being in shape to do Hashem’s will and not for my own ego inflation. I had been slipping and transitioning back to some of the heavier lifts again recently when my daughter misbehaved. I thanked Hashem for the message and resolved to try and let go for good of the ego workouts. Most recently, with His help, I’ve been able to do that the last few weeks.


Now what about my younger daughter’s behavior? She had deliberately not listened to me multiple times when I had asked her to stand up. Again, I asked Hashem to please show me where I was deliberately not listening to Him. Again, the answer came in a flash: my own TV watching. Anyone who reads Garden books or listens to as many CDs as I have is surely aware of Rabbis Arush and Brody’s instructions to turn off the boob tube. Besides the anti-Emuna news, there are also the anti-Emuna ideas and reactions by characters in TV shows. Let’s not even get started with the threat to personal holiness. I had experienced many times already how watching TV at night eroded my ability to have Emuna the next few days afterwards. I saw time and again how few to no shows could allow me to keep my personal holiness intact. I had also experienced watching TV for way too long before going to bed and would be exhausted the next day. Yet I kept finishing off a tired day wanting to lie back and watch the boob tube for a while. It was here that I was deliberately ignoring Hashem’s warnings to let go of TV. I thanked Him for my younger child’s behavior, apologized, and resolved to do better in the future. We recently downgraded to no cable, just a few streaming services. I have stopped watching at night by myself and continue to cut down on watching when my wife and children have something on. Hey! It’s progress! I’m no angel.


Without Emuna, without The Garden of Education, I would have just eventually lost it with my kids. I would not have been able to tolerate their not listening to me. Now that I’ve learnt to use my children’s misbehavior to make Teshuva and change myself instead, I feel I’m slowly improving my daily service to Hashem. I’m also slowly succeeding in being a kind and patient father to my children. And I’m getting closer to Hashem!


Thank You Hashem for The Garden of Education and its author and translator. Thank You Hashem for blessing me through allowing me to read it and use it actively in my life. Thank You Hashem for helping me to be a better father and a better Jew each day!

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  thank you
aliza9/23/2016 6:46:45 AM
  TV out of the house - Best Loving thing I did for my family! You can do it. (only subject)
Lori9/21/2016 7:07:09 PM

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