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Thought for the Day: Your Rod Comforts Because Your Staff Comforts Me

Any time I can justify telling a cute story about my grandchildren, I am grabbing that opportunity.  But first... a testimonial.
Hi, my name is Michael.  I am a potcher.  I have not potched my grandchildren in 59 days.
There.  I feel cleansed.

Thanksgiving weekend last year, I went to spend the weekend with my younger daughter and her children to help out while her husband was away on business (bringing Jewish San Francisco teens back to Torah).  We went for a walk on Shabbos and her daughter (Avigayil, a real pistol and a half) ran out into the street, stopped, turned, looked at me an laughed.  I was terrified both by how quickly and recklessly she moved, and even more by the clear intent of the act.  More than that, though, I knew this was not the first time; the last time had left her mother shaking in fear after retrieving Avigayil and getting her safely into the car seat.  I strode to her and gave her a solid potch.  I then apologized profusely to my daughter; I have a very solid policy of not interfering with the parenting of my children.  Despite my best efforts, my children have, bli ayin hara, turned out wonderfully and I do not want to take any unnecessary chances with the next generation.

What brought this up?  A few days ago my daughter told me that Avigayil had two things to say about her zeidy (that being me).  First, "Zeidy is my friend, I want to go visit him."  Awww.  Second, "Zeidy potches if you run into the street."  Oh no...

On reflection, though, I realized that it's not so bad.  My granddaughter knows I love her; I am her friend, after all!  She also realizes (in that context, apparently) that the potch was for a very specific event.  Moreover, Avigayil has not run in the street again.

To be effective, tochacha always has to be given in that manner.  The mochi'ach has to love the recipient and the recipient has to feel that love.  The tochacha has to be specific and only after you have established a loving relationship.  The mochi'ach can feel no pleasure in giving the tochacha, only happiness that the recipient will not again put themselves in harm's way.  Well... at least not that one harm.


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