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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Give the Child Some Space

Parshas Vayikra

The person in our home least affected by the coronavirus situation is our youngest daughter. The world has turned upside-down but to two-year-old Musia, what could be better? She has mommy and tatty home at all times! If only we could all be that care-free child. Traditionally a child’s formal Jewish education begins with the first pasuk of Vayikra. Why? “Let the pure ones come and engage in pure matters,”[1] explains the midrash. Children are naturally free from sin, and the Book of Vayikra is all about purifying oneself and becoming closer to Hashem. The significance of the child’s purity is emphasized in the very first word: vayikra. Most letters in the Torah are uniformly sized, but the alef in vayikra is noticeably smaller, hinting to a conversation a child may have with his or her parents. The child asks, “If Hashem’s goal is that I eventually study Torah and perform mitzvos as an adult, why did He create me as a child?” And the parent answers, “Your childish sincerity and simple faith are the foundations of Yiddishkeit that can only be cultivated as a child. The adult you’ll become is shaped by the child you are now.” Even as adults we continue the child-adult cycle. We spend most of our day doing grown up things, like going to work, paying bills, and dealing with important decisions. But each morning we have an opportunity—before beginning our daily responsibilities—to connect to Hashem as a child.[2] And today, with our minds consumed with concern for the health of our families and the frightening financial reality, it is more vital than ever. I cannot stay sane under grown-up pressures like these, unless I begin my day as a child.   The pull to “adulthood” is strong, but we can control it to some extent. There’s a thirst for knowledge and updates about the virus, but can the adult in us wait a few minutes—give the child some space? One WhatsApp message can spiral us into adulthood, but we can postpone it until we’ve tended to the child in us.    We can begin the day with a child-like modeh ani, recognizing that Hashem is with us and has granted us another day. Then, depending on how much our personal situation allows it, go on to say brachos, perhaps learn something, give tzedakah and daven.  We always have been (and always will be!) children of a loving and all-powerful Father. Everything we’ve ever had is from Hashem, and everything going on right now is orchestrated by Him. Reminding ourselves of this reality will give us the boost we so desperately need. So let’s embrace our chance at childhood. Lean into it. Use it to enhance our unavoidable adulthood. Let’s do it for ourselves and our children. The world may be upside-down, but our Father in Heaven is home with us, all the time. Good Shabbos, and besuros tovos by everyone, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

[1] Vayikra Rabbah 7:3. [2] See Sicha of Parshas Vayikra 5740 (1980). 


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