As Jews, we are taught that Hashem runs the world and that we are all in His hands. As it is written in the Torah, “The hearts of the kings and noblemen are in the hands of G-d.” However, we tend to forget. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all like to take control. That can include control of family, friends, and associates, sometimes even of a shul or a neighborhood.
Many times, we are caught up in situations that make us angry and upset because things didn’t go the way we wanted or planned. Why do we get so upset if we know that it’s all from Above and it’s all good? This anger is caused by our forgetfulness. Deep down in our hearts, we know the truth. We know G-d is one, we know everything that is written in the Torah is correct, and we know that we must obey all the commandments of the Torah in order to have a good life.
We are made up of our physical components and our spiritual ones. Our physical elements usually pull us toward pleasures and self-centered actions which will make our lives physically better and more comfortable. Our spiritual side, otherwise known as our soul (neshama), is always pulling us upward toward Hashem and His commandments. Our neshama wants us to be better people, to be happy and thankful at all times, and to leave all our worries up to G-d, just like children leave all their worries up to their parents.
This ongoing tug-of-war exists in us all. Jews and non-Jews alike. No matter who we are, finding the balance between doing what is right and doing whatever pleases us at that moment is a constant battle for us all.
I have many wonderful children, each one something special and different. Finding the right approach and connection to each one is challenging and requires great listening skills, to hear what it is they really want me to know. Similarly, we must also learn to listen to ourselves – and the highest form of listening is to a greater entity called the Almighty.
With our children, whom we care for and do everything we can for from the time they are born, we tend to think that we control them. They must listen to anything and everything we say. When they are small that might be possible. However, as they grow up into adults and become independent, we control them less and less. Letting go, or in other words letting our children make their own decisions and take control over their own lives, can be very challenging for us as parents. The best thing we can do is to bring them up in a non-controlling atmosphere to begin with – one of respect for their thoughts and for others, even while they are still small.
When our grown-up child comes to us and tells us something that we didn’t expect, and we feel that it should be done differently but they don’t listen, we might feel hurt or insulted. But we must respect their right to choose what they believe is right for them. As Jews, the Torah guides us on the right path, and still there are so many different ways we all think. Our job is to do good, think good, pass good on, and remember that we are not in control of anything – including our children whom we care for beyond words.
Usually, the closer we are to someone, the greater our urge to control or to tell them what to do. Therefore, let us practice respecting the desires and wishes of those close to us, and see how and where we can help them fulfill their dreams. Instead of getting frustrated that things are not going as we want and getting insulted, hurt, and angry, let us use our energies in a positive way and go into this new year able to know when to let go and how to respect the wishes of all, especially of the ones we love.