It has always been my feeling, that children come to this world, as if from another world… new souls in little helpless bodies, unable to provide for themselves, full of curiosity; not knowing our language; not knowing our ways. But eager to take part in this world, and to be accepted like everyone else.
I do not believe that they belong to us. I believe that they are entirely independent creatures; that have just been parceled out to those already living here, for us to help them adjust, and care for them, until they’ll be able to care for themselves. Sometimes, they’re very similar to us… and this is a blessing, because we can imagine ourselves as little children, starting over in life. But this is just imagination… for they are never identical to us.
And sometimes they are very different from us, and we have to be extremely careful, not to give them advice or guidance that would be right for us, perhaps, but wrong for them. We have to take care, in any case, not to insult them, not to belittle them, not to be insensitive, not to think of them as objects, or toys, or possessions.
I have friends, who don’t like to hear me say that life is a series of tests. But that’s the way I see it. And I believe, that when raising children, the scores we get are connected to the independence of the children we’ve raised; whether they are self sufficient, whether they are happy in life, whether they’re able to deal with the difficulties and the hard times.
Of course, it’s not so simple. Because each of us has free choice. We can make mistakes. We can be tempted down a path that is dangerous or destructive. These poor choices, are not the fault of the parent. And some of us, come to this world with disadvantages. One is born a hunchback, and another a cripple. One with a hair-lip, and another with very little intelligence, or blind, or deaf. We are not all born equal. We are all born different. I’ve heard that even exceptional beauty can be a disadvantage, or exceptional talent or strength. And when a parent is given a child that is disadvantaged in some very difficult way, parenting becomes a much harder job. Often, it changes the life of the parent completely.
Years ago, I was studying the story of the beginning, in the bible. How man was created in the garden of eden, where he was not obligated to do anything but enjoy life. And then he eats the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and is tempted by the snake… and eventually finds himself thrown out of the garden, and having to work to provide for himself, and his woman bears children in pain. It occurred to me that this is a parable on childhood, and the exit from our parents’ home. How wonderful it is to be taken care of and provided for. But we have that innate curiosity. The desire to understand the world around us. And that is the tree of knowledge. Sometimes, our parents try to protect us from some difficult subjects, turning them into pleasant fairy tales… bending the truth a bit.
And then, as we grow older, passion awakes in us. We have sexual desires. The snake stands up, and tempts the woman… not so much with the pleasure of his company, but with the fruit… the fruit of knowledge, the fruit of her union with her man. But then life moves on to the next phase. No longer children… no longer free to run around naked enjoying all the wonders of the garden of eden. Now we have to work for a living, and suffer the pain of bringing children into this world.
This week, I spent time with friends, and with children and grandchildren. This holiday lasts a week. And this evening, we will begin the last day of the holiday, which like the first day, is similar to a Sabbath. Not exactly the same, but it is a day given to more spiritual focus. Perhaps one day, I will go into the subtle differences of holiness and holy days… but for now, my blessing to all my readers and friends, may we all find strength and renewal in these spring days, and happiness and productivity.