As most (healthy) fathers know, sometimes (like most of the time) one has a need to seriously beat their children for being . . . well . . . children. Especially boys and teenage girls.
I had that feeling this morning after coming home from davening since there was “something in the air.” Of course, you can’t exactly hit your children (because that leaves marks) and you can’t just yell at them (because that leaves marks), but, as a man, you need to do SOMETHING violent.
So, I found the perfect solution: Yell at them all with a Scottish accent!
Not only can you insult them at whim, like calling them a “useless sack of meat," but you can give them practical advice on what to take to school for lunch, like “catching a cat, and ripping out its guts, and dip it in ketchup!” And, if you don’t have anything of intelligence to say, you can tell them that “I don’t want to see you wee-woping, no good yellow-belly, stomp-catcher again!” They have no idea what you said, you have no idea what you said, they laugh, and you feel better getting it all out of your system.
Just make sure to turn off the switch when they leave the house, so you don’t end up calling your wife a “useless sack of meat.”
It’s very important to remember that part.
The Gemara (Shabbos 88a) explains that Hashem held Mt. Sinai over the heads of Jewish people and warned them that if they did not accept the Torah, then this would be their grave. On the other hand, the nation previously stated, “We will do and we will hear” (Shemos 24:7). If they already accepted the Torah, what was the need for Hashem to threaten them?
The Midrash asks and answers this question. When they said, “We will do and we will hear,” that was in regard to the Written Torah. However, in regard to the Oral Torah, they needed a little . . . persuasion.
Why was there such hesitancy to accept the Oral Torah? Because, unlike the Written Torah, a person must toil and suffer to understand it well. The Written Torah is there. You can sit down and read it, but to truly excel in the Oral Torah, one needs to be focused and demanding on himself.
A young man in yeshiva once complained to Rav Shach about his inability to do well in the yeshivah. Rav Shach answered the following:
“Suppose that a man sees that a handsome profit is to be had in another country. Once he resolves to go, nothing can dissuade him. It does not matter to him whether the way is easy or difficult, whether he travels first class or third or whether the accommodations along the way are comfortable or not. All that matters is that he should arrive at his destination, so that he can conduct his business.
“By contrast, if he is going on a vacation, the conditions are very important to him indeed. If he hears, for example, that the ride is unpleasant and that he must walk part of the way, or that the accommodations are inferior and the provisions scant, he will undoubtedly cancel the trip.
“Similarly, a person in yeshivah whose goal is to grow in Torah pays no mind to the conditions around him. His gaze is focused entirely on his goal. By contrast, one who comes to yeshivah looking for a vacation notices every detail – Does he have a set with a view? Is it on the sunny side? And so on. For such a person, every difficulty spoils his mood and causes him to have thoughts of leaving.”
I once heard a talk given by a Navy SEAL, regarding the training that he went through in order to be accepted as a trainee. It’s not easy to say the least. They are given very little sleep, a lot of physical and mental challenges, and throughout the whole time, they are given incentives (read: distractions) to drop out. His description and stories of what they went through to become SEALs was mind-boggling. But, he said, what kept them going was the goal. They WANTED to be SEALs and no matter what, they were GOING to be SEALs.
One’s spiritual ambitions should be treated no differently. You have a goal? Focus on it, don’t get distracted, and GET IT.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!
p.s. Next week, there will be no dvar Torah. It’s going to be a very busy week, and on Thursday/Friday, I will be in Yerushaliyim making matzos (Thursday night baking . . . they couldn’t have planned it any worse for a guy living in the North).