Friday, January 17, 2014

The Most Wonderful Gifts of All

I continue to be reminded about how much good common sense is found in the texts of our Jewish heritage in my daily study of Gemara. So, here I am in the middle of Masechet Shabbat and lo and behold on 10b we have the following elements of discussion: When one conveys a gift upon another person, they should inform him about it. This is discussed in terms of Moses being “gifted” by G-d with a radiant face and perhaps needing to better understand this change. As the discussion continues, it is suggested that the incredible gift that G-d gives is Shabbat, the day when we can live like royalty and not be workers, so to speak, able to experience a higher level of existence. Then in typical Gemara fashion there are some stories regarding Rabbi Chisda who says he will give a gift to the one who gives them a new teaching. This then morphs, as these discussions often do (and keep in mind I am doing major editorializing here to make this a clearer concept) to the type of gifts we give to each other, referencing specifically the coat that Yaakov gave to Yosef, which as we know, caused so much contention. We then come to a lesson that we should treat our children equally and not give one of them a far better gift that will cause jealousy and so many problems, as we know happens through the story of Bereshit/Genesis.

Okay, so as I was reading this text, I was so excited. First the idea of checking in and acknowledging that people have received what we have given them is interesting in terms of the idea presented here versus social conventions as to whether or not we should do so. Then we note that words of wisdom and important experiences are the most valued and important gifts and that material gifts can cause serious problems if we are not careful. Finally, we should treat our children equally (not meaning the same necessarily), giving them each what they need and not favoring one above the other. Such great advice for living our lives.

So there I am sitting at my kitchen table, which is where I sit when I am learning Gemara. Straight ahead of me is a beautiful collection of cards that have been chosen, written and given to me by my children. They are truly beautiful expressions of their gratitude for what I have given them, but more important to me, they are indicative of the amazing gifts they have given me by becoming these incredible people who are making such important differences in our world and showing me day by day that they are now able and eager to pass on to others what they have learned by being part of our family. Their wise words are truly gifts to me and the experiences we have all shared are so much more powerful than the various material things we have bestowed upon each other.

I love each of my four children the most. That is to say, I am honored by what they have become and cannot express the extent of my gratitude for how each of my children continue to maintain the extremely close relationships that have been the soul of this family through the years. Parenting is an amazing adventure to be sure. You give everything you have and it is so clear to me that even with that, you still get so much back. I hope and pray that each of my children will come to know the incredible joy and gift of parenting I have experienced. And may we all learn the true meaning of gifting and the value and nature of the gifts we give!

I will end in honor of the words of Masechet Shabbat by wishing all a Shabbat Shalom – may you enjoy the peace, experience and the words of wisdom you acquire this coming Shabbat and in all that follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment