11 Tamuz 5781 / Monday, June 21, 2021 | Torah Reading: Balak
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A Child's Gift to His Father    

A Child's Gift to His Father

When we pray, we use the voice Hashem gave us. We elevate the spirit He created within us. We recite words from a prayer book made of trees that He has formed…


My son taught me a brilliant lesson today.


He did it in a gesture.


My wife and I were listening to him practice piano. He works really hard. After playing a challenging piece, his mom started to instruct him on where he could improve.


I got a little restless so I doodled on the piano, lightly pressing one of the outer keys.


Ever so gently, my son brushed aside my hand. He gave me a smile, his eyes asking me to stop. Several thoughts entered my mind. He kept smiling, but beneath his soft glance emerged a shadow of assertiveness.


He understood what I was thinking and answered in kind.


He said, "Daddy, my piano is very special to me. Please don't defame it with silliness."


Before I had a chance to form a thought, my baser instincts grabbed the microphone. I couldn’t help but think to myself, "I bought this piano. I paid for the lessons. Are you telling me to back off?"


That's when his look took on a measure of passion and determination.


"Daddy, the piano and lessons may be yours, but please understand that the effort is mine. I paid for this ability to play music with years of hard practice. When I was tired, I practiced. When my sisters were done with their homework and started to play, I practiced. Notes that were once impossible to make out became second nature only after hours and hours of real effort."


He concluded, "You gave me the stage, but I worked to make a grand performance. This is what's mine. This is what makes it so important. Please treat it with respect."


Then he started to play. All the work he put into developing his talent, he immediately applied to sharing with others.


What We Give to Hashem


My son showed me what we can give G-d, our Father.


When we pray, we are using the voice He gave us. We are elevating the spirit He breathed within us. We are reciting the words from a prayer book made of the trees that He formed from the seeds that He watered with His rain, which caused them to grow into a huge trunk with branches that can be processed into paper.


He paid for all of it.


What is ours?


The effort.


It's the focus behind each prayer that is uniquely ours. It's the sacrifice we make for observing every mitzvah, for performing every act of kindness and charity, or from restraining ourselves from temptation.


It's the effort. The lifetime of effort we make to always improve our ability to serve our Creator. That effort is what we can call ours.


Just like my son's music, it is up to us to share it.


If we are strong in our adherence to the laws of decent speech, we should be bold about it. Let people learn by setting the best example we can.


If we have a talent for focused prayer, we should pray for all of Israel. We should pray that everyone returns to Hashem and there is no anger amongst the Jewish Nation.


If we have a passion for learning Torah, by diving into it with all our hearts we redeem the world. We share with everyone the Divine Light Hashem shines onto the world in the merit of our learning.


My son taught me that it is a duty to show respect for the things in life we put our hearts into. It is the highest honor to take everything Hashem gives us and create something of our own and in that way share the gift God with which we have been blessed, with the world.



* * *

Living in Israel for the better part of our adult life, my wife and I have become really happy. Life here is beautiful. It isn't easy, but the challenges are real, infusing us with a sense of ongoing purpose, and even more satisfaction. My wife and I developed www.succeedinisrael.com, a 5-hour, 20-video series to give you day to day guidance on How to Live a Better Life in Israel, and to share our joy in experiencing life in greatest place on earth.

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