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QUALITY TIME WITH OUR CHILDREN

Thursday, 4 December, 2014 - 12:39 pm

A young Jewish man seeking spiritual enlightenment decided to enter a monastery. He joined one particularly strict sect. The head monk told him, at his indoctrination, that they were sworn to TOTAL silence. They could not speak one word at all. However, every five years, they would be permitted to speak two words. After five years of total silence, the head monk indicated it was now time for him to speak his two words. The Jewish kid said, “Food bad!” And then he resumed his silent meditation and study. Another 5 years passed and the head monk again indicated it was time for him to speak his two words. The Jew said, “Bed Hard!” And then he resumed his silent study and meditation. Another 5 years passed and the head monk again indicated it was time for him to speak his two words. The Jew said, “I quit!”

The head monk shook his head and said, “I knew this was coming. You’ve done nothing but complain for the past 15 years!”…
It is by all counts a provocative story and it is unclear why the Torah finds it necessary to record it.
 
After the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot—a nephew of Abraham—and his two daughters took refuge in the wilderness. They didn’t realize that the apocalypse they had just witnessed was a localized event. They thought that the whole world had been obliterated. They therefore figured that it would be up to them to repopulate the world and save humanity from extinction.
 
However there was just one little problem. You need a male and a female to create life and the only male left alive, to their minds, was their father.
 
The portion of this week, Vayeira, relates the story:
 
It is by all counts a provocative story and it is unclear why the Torah finds it necessary to record it. Lot’s daughters get their father drunk, they have relations with him, and two children are born. Granted they thought they had to do it to ensure human survival, but why does the entire royal line of our people King David trace its origins to the incestual relationship between Lot and his daughter? Moshiach himself—the ultimate leader who will transform world-consciousness and usher in moral perfection and the final redemption—needs to be a descendent of Moav, the son born from the union of Lot and his daughter!
 
Why is this? Surely G-d can take someone else who has, if not a perfect pedigree, at least not an ancestry that includes incest?
 
One of the greatest Rabbis of our times was Rabbi Moshe Feinstien, considered the foremost expert on Jewish law, he has written thousands of letters responding to questions in Jewish law, all published in the eight volumes of “The Letters of Moshe.” His halachic rulings are widely quoted in contemporary rabbinic literature.
 
Rabbi Moshe used to share an incredible story that happened in the winter of 1921 in Luban, Russia which he witnessed firsthand.
 
A man in Reb Moshe’s town, a distinguished and prominent member of the community, became suddenly deathly ill from a most peculiar illness: his tongue became terribly swollen and infected. From his sickbed he requested that the Rabbi of the city, Reb Moshe Feinstein, come visit him. When Reb Moshe entered the room, the man asked that everyone leave. He remained alone with Reb Moshe and then he related to Reb Moshe the following incident which occurred only a few days earlier.
 
Last week, the ill man began his story, it was Parshat Vayeira, the portion where the story of Lot’s daughters is recorded. I was deeply troubled about the fact that Moshiach would come from this promiscuous intimate union between a drunken father and his two daughters. Even if they felt they had to do what they did, how did they have the audacity to publicize it, to the point that one of them named the baby “Moav,” which means “from a father,” intimating that he was born from her father? How can they not be ashamed of their licentious behavior? Shame on them! I started to ridicule the daughters of Lot and speak of them with much distain and disgrace.
 
The man continued relating his story:
 
That night I had a dream. Two very old women appeared to me. Their faces were covered. They introduced themselves as the daughters of Lot. They said that in “the world of truth” they heard my questions concerning their behavior and they have come to set the record straight and explain themselves.
 
We, explained Lot’s daughters in the dream, were Abraham’s grand-nieces. Abraham had a reputation of someone who experienced miracles. In addition, we were saved via a miracle from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We had the “Street cred”, so to speak, to claim that the child we were carrying in our wombs was not conceived from our father, but was rather impregnated by G-d. Due to our spectacular family history, we could have gotten away with the lie; our reputations would have remained as pure, sweet and white as snow and sugar; people would have viewed our sons as demi-gods and us as saints.
 
So why did we choose to publicize that our sons were conceived from their own grandfathers? It is because we knew that one day in the future, a Jewish boy born from a Jewish mother, who would not behave so nicely, would make the claim that his mom did not need a male to impregnate her; for G-d did the job. This Jewish boy would then be embraced by millions or billions as the Messiah!
 
So thousands of years before the birth of this new religion and this new claim about a virgin’s birth, the daughters of Lot publicized to the world that a child can only be from a physical mother and father! G-d does not impregnate any women!
 
They wanted to ensure that the Jews and the world await for the real Messiah!
 
They were the ones who demonstrated that Immaculate Conception was an Immaculate Deception!
 
And since the daughters of Lot sacrificed themselves and their good name over millennia, for the single purpose of rejecting the false Messiah and holding up the fort for the real Moshiach, they in turn merited to have the real Messiah come from their progeny!
 
The ill man continued to relate his dream to Reb Moshe:
 
The two women went on to chastise me for embarrassing them and speaking of them in such disgraceful and lowly terms. Words have power and denigrating great people has deeply negative effects. They told him he would need cleansing and forgiveness for what he has done. They compared his sin to the sin of the spies who spoke slander of the Holy Land, and their tongues too were infected. They told him that he too would pass on as the spies who slandered the Holy Land.
The man finished telling his story, turned his face to the wall, and passed away.
 
Reb Moshe Feinstein, standing at his bedside, was stunned. Here, he just received living regards from two women, the daughters of Lot, who lived some 3700 years earlier and whose stories are recorded in Genesis! Now Reb Moshe was no superstitious fellow. He was extremely grounded, practical, and down to earth. For him Judaism was about law and order, not miracles and dreams. Yet he realized that this was no fictional novel. The man told him the story moments before his death and the insight he shared made so much sense! All his life, till his last day in 1986, Reb Moshe repeated this story which he experienced with his own eyes back in the winter of 1921.
 
Many of us parents make the mistake of thinking that our children, can grow up without parents being emotionally fully present in their lives, without developing very genuine, deep and intimate relationship with our children on their terms, not only on our own terms. What a present a parent can give his or her child is irreplaceable. That sense of confidence, of stability, of security, of empowerment, of fun and good humor, of unconditional and unwavering love, is what each father must give to his child.
 
The function of Shabbat is for every parent to escape the chaos of the outside world and to become an absolute father or mother. To be completely present, spending deep, real and powerful quality time with each of the children.
 
Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky
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