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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

I'm going out of my mind

B'shalach 

An elderly man included a stipulation in his will stating that his son may inherit his possessions only once the son becomes a shoteh, a fool. After the man’s passing, the Tanah Rebbi Yosi b’Reb Yehuda, charged with carrying out the will, didn’t know what to do with this information so he took the son to Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korcha. As they approached the house and looked through the window, they saw an astonishing sight: Rebbi Yehoshua was crawling on his hands and knees with a leash in his mouth while his young son was leading him around. Shocked and unsure, they knocked on the door. When they presented their question, Rebbi Yehoshua laughed and said, “If only you had come a bit sooner you would have had the answer to your question!”

The father who wrote the will was stipulating that his son marry and have children. Having children and caring for them requires a father, in a certain sense, to become a fool, to go out of his mind.[1] This aspect of fatherhood is challenging. Some of us find it difficult to lower ourselves to our children’s level, and others are the opposite—they become possessed when playing with their children, effectively becoming children themselves, making the game about themselves instead of about their children.

My father, whose yahrtzait is today, the 11th of Shevat, was a living example of this paradox. He was no fool. He had a brilliant mind and was very knowledgeable in nigleh, nistar, and the ways of the world. But he also knew how to “lose his mind” when necessary. He told us funny stories, played ball with us, and learned Torah with us on our level. He toed this fine line with his students in his yeshivah for baalei teshuvah as well. In the beis medrash they saw his ability to relate to their level of understanding Torah, and on the baseball field they felt his care and understanding for their struggles. In truth, the ultimate teacher of this act is our Father in heaven.

Traditionally, during the month of Shevat when we commemorate the day the Lubavitcher Rebbe assumed leadership, Chabad chassidim learn a maamar titled “Basi l’Gani.” One of the themes of the maamar is the idea that Hashem contracts Himself in order for us to relate to Him. He hides His light in simple acts of mitzvos so that we can bond with Him through them. To illustrate this, the maamar gives the example of a father talking childishly with his kid. The father lowers himself down to the child’s level, even becoming downright silly, because he loves him so deeply. The father invests his entire essence into this interaction. And Hashem does the same for us. Chazal say that Moshiach will come b’hesech ha’daas, when our minds are removed from it. But doesn’t this contradict the principle of “I await his coming every day”? Rather, Moshiach’s coming will be brought about through us going out of our minds in doing good things to hasten his coming. May it be speedily in our days. Gut Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier [1] Yalkut Shimoni Tehilim 92 (846).

The Flint family l’zecher nishmas Reb Avraham Michoel ben Yaakov Shimon Halevi a"h

The Moshe Group Moshe and Rivky Majeski