For The Sake Of Our Children – Shavuot 5777
For the sake of our children
I have already spilt too much ink this week, and although my words may have left one or two people ‘feeling’ better, I doubt that it made anyone ‘be’ safer. That 2nd option though, is the remit of the Government and Local Authority and on Shabbat I will be looking at the lessons I have had to learn from my last two weeks; coming straight from an amazing charity bike ride along the length of Israel into the madness (and inspiration) that has been Manchester this week. Today though I want to look at the juxtapositioning of the brutal and targeted murder of a children’s concert with the upcoming Chag of Shavuot.
There is a famous Midrash that describes Hashem first offering the Torah to every Nation on Earth, only for them to reject it as they were unwilling to accept certain restrictions such as murder, Kashrut, family purity etc. When the Jewish Nation was asked, we famously responded, ‘Na’aseh vNishmah’ – we will do and we will listen.
However that wasn’t the end of the story, for Hashem then asked us for our guarantors; who could we put forward that would guarantee that we would indeed keep the Torah? Automatically our eyes turned towards our ancestors; Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaackov together with Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah. But Hashem wouldn’t accept them as they were already beyond this physical world. We offered our Rabbis and Teachers, but they too were rejected as being unable to ensure that the common man and woman would actually behave. We suggested our Prophets Moshe and Aaron, we tried our hand with the Celestial Beings, we even called on Heaven and Earth, but Hashem wouldn’t accept any of them.
In desperation, we suggested our own children, minors and infants; and with them standing as our eternal guarantors the Almighty was prepared to hand over to us His most precious possession the Torah.
The act of creating a child may be the most selfish and animalistic instinct that we have, but the lifelong job of raising and educating them, protecting and nurturing them is the most selfless and divine purpose of our entire existence. We pour our heart and soul into ensuring that they are properly educated, fed and clothed, we spend the vast proportion of our income and pretty much our entire existence on ensuring their safety and health and continued growth into adulthood. At times we may tear our hair out at their antics (regardless of their age and supposed maturity – sorry daddy), but nothing can move our hearts as much as seeing them achieve their potential. We will stand in the way of any danger that confronts our baby and we will enwrap them in our arms to protect them from all harm, real or imagined. They will disturb our sleep for years, but I for one cannot go to sleep without softly kissing their foreheads as they lie peacefully in their little beds.
We invest everything we have for the sake of our children, but at the end of the day they are our guarantors.
Hashem did not want Rabbis or Prophets, He was unsatisfied with our Forefathers and Mothers, He would not accept Angels or even Reality itself, all He wanted was the promise of our Children. And for over 3,300 years that is what we have given to Him.
This Shavuot, Wednesday 31 May, bring them along to Shul. Let them once again stand on the Bimah as we receive the Torah, our guiding light and moral compass, with our little ones acting as our eternal guarantors. I cannot physically (or politically) make anyone safer, but maybe we can feel safer and in some small way actually be safer, as we once again look to our children and their education as our promise for an eternal future.