A Thought for the Week
Ki Teitzei 2002
Many years ago a woman in Yerushalayim told me a
story. She was a wonderful woman, she kept
the Torah faithfully, had a large family, many guests on Shabbos and
davened every day. She even published a book.
She had one spiritual crisis. Of course she loved all her children but she
had one child that she just didn't like. She
found herself picking on him, blaming him for
things he didn't do, not hugging him as much as the others. It was a
terrible situation. She struggled with this and worked on herself
for months but somehow to her, the child had no
chein. It happened that her husband became ill
and Rav C.P. Scheinberg came to their apartment to visit. The
Rav knew nothing about this very private condition that was ripping
apart this woman's family and heart. The whole
family waited with anticipation knowing that
their Rebbe was about to visit. When he knocked, the mother,
followed by the whole family, came to greet him. Rav Scheinberg
entered with his usual grace and for some reason
immediately focused on this little child. He
cupped the child's face in his hand and looked at the mother and
said, "You know - all your children are beautiful but this child
has the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen."
This mother told me that for the first time in
the child's life she saw his eyes. They were beautiful. She shared with me
that from that day on whenever she looks at this child all she sees
are his eyes. Her attitude and her whole relationship changed.
I do not believe this was a punishment. If we were punishing nations the Egyptians would have come first. It's just that without the ability to appreciate an act of goodness that was done for you and without the ability to see and remember the positive in other people it is impossible to be part of the Jewish community.
The inability to recognize goodness will interfere with every aspect of Yiddishkeit. How can someone stay married without hakaros hatov? How can one do the mitzvah of honoring their parents if they are blinded to the good that was done for them from the time of their childhood? How can one bring out the greatness in their child if they can't see their good? How can one be part of a community or have friends without good vision? How can one have a relationship with G-d if they can't appreciate Him? How can we love our children if we can't see their eyes?
There are people in this world that have a knack for seeing the negative and the downside of every person, situation and place. There are people that even under duress somehow find the positive even where no one else can seem to find it. It is the person that can find the good that can practice Judaism.
As we start to wind down on the year 5762 we have to do some serious attitude checking. We have to ask ourselves some difficult questions. Do I find myself being critical more often than complimentary? When I meet someone new do I first take notice of his or her beautiful aspects or of their ugly parts? Am I able to say thank you easily or is it always a struggle?
In the Ten Commandments Hashem introduces Himself to us with a very compelling argument. "I am your G-d. I am the one that took you out of Egypt and put you on your feet." G-d is saying; "I don't need you to be philosophers or kabbalists, but I do need you to be able to show gratitude. If you can do this you can become my children. If you can find those eyes you can be a Jew."
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"