Opinion: Bedtime


bedtimeBy Yochanan Gordon

While I am beginning to write this article, my son Nison who is in the room just to the right of me, is slowly stopping to cry. It is after ten o’clock at night and it’s just way past his bedtime. Earlier this evening we had dinner at my sister and brother-in-law in Woodmere and we were there until after eight. On a nightly basis we try getting him to sleep between the hours of eig ht and nine. Tonight, like every night we are trying to get him to sleep and once again he is putting up a fight.

The truth is that it is saddening to hear him cry. Although I know the reason behind his crying and I am certain that he is okay – still, a cry is a cry. Hearing a baby cry is just one of those things that parents get accustomed to. But the truth is while we do get familiar with the sound we certainly do not want to become immune to it and the fact that it is still saddening is definitely a healthy feeling.

I always wondered what goes through the mind of a child when a parent is doing their job by putting them to sleep or trying to feed them and they just cry because they feel that they are being wronged. Do they actually feel that they are being mistreated? The truth is the time will come when they too will realize that they cannot function without eating and sleeping. But the question still remains – how=2 0do they feel at this point in time during their developmental stages?

A child can never know the intentions of a parent. A good child would always realize that no one cares more for him or her than their parents. This would dictate that if a parent treats a child in a way which is met with their opposition, it is only because the child does not understand. It is only when the child gets older, more mature and is married with his or her own children that they will begin to understand the magnanimity of the decisions that a parent has to make and what they do for their children on a moment to moment basis.

I am sure that all the parents who are reading this article can relate to what is being written. We realize and accept wholeheartedly that our job in life is to raise our children to be the best that they can be. Most importantly, we cannot allow the immaturity of our children to dictate or even cause us to second guess our decisions on their behalf. G-d gave us as parents the foresight and fortitude to persevere through these trying times and He instilled within us the intuition knowing that what we are doing is correct and so we continue and try to explain to them that we know better and one day they will understand.

All this conjures up memories of just a few years back standing on the sidelines watching my parents raise my younger siblings, commenting here and there along the way about what I agreed or perhaps disagreed with, adding that when I get married and have children of my own I will do things differently. Well here I am, the journey has just begun and I am already starting to realize how complex the life of a parent can be. Night after night I hold my dear son in my arms and as I gently walk with him toward his crib I know he realizes what’s to follow as he innocently begins to whimper. At that time, however, I put on a stern face, all the while thinking, that I am doing what is best for him and I wish he would just understand. So I proceed to put him down in his crib and as he is about to lose his temper I rub his back, say shema, sing Hamalach Hagoel and hope that by that time he would feel tired en ough to go to sleep on his own. Needless to say that is usually not what ends up happening.

At this point I am sure many of you more experienced parents who have already married off most or at least some of your children and now enjoy the presence of your grandchildren are saying, “let him wait a few years and he will then see what complex and difficult parenting is”! The truth is that you are absolutely right, this is just about bedtime and the relatively small things that go into tending to an infant. However, as he grows up so will we and we will take in stride all the tactics that are required towards successful parenting.

While all this superficially seems like a glimpse into the lives and struggles of new parents, truthfully speaking, on a deeper level it is an article that pertains to each of us in our relationship with G-d – our Father in heaven. We are currently living through irregular times. All the safety and security20that we have become accustomed to on a multitude of levels has been compromised and is in further jeopardy on a daily basis. The questions abound. The stricken victims are in desperate search for answers, while the rest of us await the verdict of our own fate. But at this point, we have to pause and take a few steps backward, before all the questions and reassure ourselves that we and our families have entrusted our lives into the hands of G-d Almighty. If we can confidently trust our judgment on behalf of the lives of our children, we should be completely sound in regards to G-ds treatment of us. We are finite, He is not. He created us and the world that we reside in. He has given us everything that we have and will continue to ensure that things move on as planned. Unlike us, He has no biases or favorites and is just looking after the betterment of the world towards bringing the final redemption.

The Gemara relates a story of a Tanna who lived in utter poverty. Finally, at the point of desperation he turned his head upwards and called out to G-d, beseeching that He adjust his lot in life. At that very moment a Heavenly voice shot out, “I can change your lot in life but first I would have to revert the world to nothingness and begin anew . We cannot question the ways of G-d! We can call out in prayer, beseeching His divine mercy on our behalf! But just to question because we simply do not understand does not cause matters to change – certainly not for the better.

The Gemara in Berachos in regards to the mitzvah of Shiluach Hakein, which is a mitzvah discussed in this weeks Parsha explains, “Anyone who says that G-ds mercy extends to the nest of a bird should be silenced”. We are familiar with the commandment of sending away the mother bird prior to taking its young. This should not be viewed as an expression of G-ds mercy, rather a decree warranting no rhyme nor reason other than the fact that G-d commanded us to do so. I don’t know if this is a recent phenomenon or a practice that has been set in place for a long time, but it seems that people like to reveal reasons for various situations or scenarios both fortunate and unfortunate.

A similar lesson is imparted in last weeks Torah reading, where the Torah forewarns against visiting charlatans or performing wizardry to see the future. As Rashi clearly explains on the words of Doresh el Hameisim, “As Jews we are supposed to accept our fate willingly, not trying to avoid or anticipate a situation that will become our destiny”. As children of G-d we too are obligated to realize and come to terms with the fact that He wants only the best for us. And while it may seem at times that we are being mistreated we have to surmise that we just don’t understand – if we expect our children to draw the same conclusion.

We say in davening, “To tell of his kindness during the daytime and remain faithful by night”. Night and day are essentially two parts of the same day; the difference is only in the appearance. While children may not enjoy going to sleep, it is necessary and they will one day come to realize that without it they can’t function. Each of us, in our day to day lives are met with situations and scenarios that are representative of night and day, celebrations which we anticipate and the sad realities of life which we choose not to think too much about. The days of our lives are met with a much greater appreciation as a result of t he nights which precede it.

According to all accounts we are at the furthest point of history prior to the dawn of a new era. As our literal nights progress it gets darker and darker. The same holds true for the figurative nights which seems cannot become any darker. However, at this point it is imperative that we recall the days and our inseparable love that G-d feels for us, bringing us to realize that everything we experience is ultimately good (not just for the good) which we do not realize at this point in time. When we put our children to bed at night and they begin to cry so do we. We cry because wish that they would realize the goodness that is being bestowed upon them at that moment. G-d too cries when we are filled with sadness as a result of the experiences in our lives which we fail to penetrate and realize the true good within them.

Immediately prior to the passing of our patriarch Yaakov he wanted to reveal the end of days to his children who were gathered around his deathbed. When the divine spirit was removed from him he was concerned that it was done as a result of some of his children not being worthy of receiving such a divine secret. At that moment, in unison, the tribes of our Father Yaakov recited Krias Shema affirming their steadfast faith in the Almighty.

We too, at this late stage in history, should unanimously affirm our resolute and unwavering faith in the Almighty and ask him to finally bestow upon us good fortune which is apparent to us with the era of Moshiach Tzidkeinu swiftly in our days Amen.

Yochanan Gordon is a contributing editor and sales manager at the 5 Towns Jewish Times and can be reached for comment at YGordon@5tjt.com.

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