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Thought for the Day: Lessons from a Three Year Old to Understand השם נתן והשם לקח; יהי שם השם מבורך

It's only a little true that I spoil my three year old granddaughter, but she definitely knows whom to ask when she wants something.  The other morning, she walked over while I was standing at the kitchen sink and said she wanted "that".  I don't know how the window sill over your kitchen sink looks, but we have accumulated enough stuff there to accomplish anything from eating to simple household repairs to first aid to complex arts and crafts.  In any case, I needed more clarification than "that".  After several false guesses (each punctuated with a "no; that!" from two feet off the floor), I finally hit on the desired object: scissors.  Not big pinking shears, but children's safety scissors.  So I gave them to her.  She immediately opened their jaws and prepared to do surgery on one of her sister's "shopkins".  I, being more than a little suspicious of her need for scissors anyway, just as immediately took them away from her.  This, naturally, was followed with her throwing herself to the floor and shrieking inconsolably.  (It was accompanied, just as naturally, by the aghast cries from the other adults in the room of "What were you thinking?!"; directed at me, of course.)

Basically just a normal morning in any house with young children.  (Ok, maybe having a naive zeidy added a bit to the cacophony.)  Normal, but being as we are now in the עשרת ימי תשובה (Ten Days of T'shuva; I flat refuse to translate "t'shuva" as "repentance"), I thought what lessons might I learn from this essentially normal occurrence.  (Which, of course, is not at all normal; which, of course, explains all the eye rolling in my house.)

The עשרת ימי תשובה are a period of intense closeness between HaShem and His beloved nation.  Prayer and t'shuva are always good, but (as the Rambam notes at the beginning of Hilchos T'shuva) during this time the individual is heard/hearkened to at a level usually reserved for petitions a the national level.  HaShem is waiting to hear from us and will seek to answer even barely comprehensible requests.  More than that, though, He will help us to be successful and protect us from hurting ourselves.

Why did I give her the scissors?  Because I love her, yes; but it could just as well because she is cute and it's fun to give her what she wants.  Why did I take them away?  That was definitely because I love her; no amount of tantruming was going to sway me to give her something with which she was likely to hurt herself or others.  So, again, why did I give it to her; knowing that was a possibility?  Because I love her and want to give her the freedom and opportunity to grow; which includes making mistakes.

We are tragically swayed by the surrounding culture to misunderstand our own Holy Scripture.  Iyov is not a nebbich suffering servant; he is an exalted tzadik enduring and reacting with all his humanity to whatever HaShem has to offer.  השם נתן/HaShem gives, because He loves us.  השם לקח/HaShem takes because he loves us intensely.  יהי שם השם מבורך, HaShem is the ultimate and only source of all blessing.

I had originally thought to entitle this TftD as: When Prayer Is Not Answered; Using the Tools HaShem Gives Us; but upon reflection, changed to its current title, because I realized this is more than just about prayer and doing mitzvos; this is about our entire relationship with אבינו מלכנו/Our Father, Our King.

One more lesson, and perhaps this is more valuable than anything else.  That tantrum -- as intense as it was -- lasted less than a few minutes.  She got up, wiped her tears and broke out into her trademark bubbly personality and winning smile.  As if nothing had happened; because, truthfully, nothing had happened to our relationship.

Then she asked for the black permanent marker, as I recall...

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