Parents and the Big Picture

The Big Picture always gives me fuel to energize my life. Drawing away from the detailed mundane facts of the situation, and looking at it in higher terms always helps me pull out of my cramped, subjective position, into one where I feel I can (at least somewhat) participate in the injunction “Let Us Make Man” (which according to Rabbi Twersky, is Hashem speaking to man himself about the dynamic, Divine partnership that we have together with Him in creating our lives).

So, a part of this picture is that Hashem has blessed us all with parents who have given us amazing gifts and strengths. Even though we are all responsible for our own teshuva, them being who they are has allowed us and encouraged us to grow into the kinds of individuals who could and have come to this place in our lives. I know that Hashem chose my particular parents to give life to me, to be my nurturers, knowing that this kind of artistic, idealistic American home was exactly what my neshama needed, in order to grow into the truth seeking baalat teshuva I have become. (And, as well, our parents, and the scattered sparks that they embody, and the special Jews we have become are part of what Am Yisrael has needed, in these post-Holocaust, pre-Mashiach times.)

Yes, it has not been an easy road. Yes, there have been obstacles and difficulties set up by my choosing a different path from theirs. And very often, the gifts and blessings that I have received are in the lessons I’ve learned from struggling with my situation. Yet, the more I am in touch with my sense of gratitude towards them, the more I identify and cherish what their particular gifts have been for me, the more I continue to interact with them coming from that loving, appreciative place, the easier it becomes to let go of my expectations of how things should be, and to really accept, believe and be content with my portion. (And even if I do hold onto these expectations, my folks have absolutely and objectively been amazing, incredible people throughout this whole journey, especially considering what their expectations were here, and how they’ve dealt with the package they got.)

2 comments on “Parents and the Big Picture

  1. You said it so well, Sarah. And as my children grow into young adults, it becomes easier and easier for me to empathize with my parents and how it must have felt for them growing through my journey to mitzvot. Most parents believe their way of life to be, if not the best, then a very ethical, moral, responsible, and correct way to be in the world, and they raise their children with these well-chosen values, and in the best way they can, doing what they feel will benefit their children the most to grow into the most actualized people they can be. When we reject those values and their way of life by choosing the Torah, the disappointment they must feel at not being respected for who they are and what they have built, must be tremendous. The sudden loss of common ground, common values, and shared interests, all because we changed, must be so difficult for parents to deal with, and they may go through the whole range of emotions in the grief cycle, mourning the future that would not be. I think that the more we can keep this in mind, the more compassion,gentleness and shalom bayit we will have in our relationships with our folks.

  2. Chava, you are so right about the big picture. Keeps things in perspective. It is also true that the environments in which we were raised (generally) must have been fertile ground for the growth that would later take place. Surely the open-mindedness and acceptance of differences allowed me to even consider such a drastically different lifestyle and way of thinking and relating than the one I was born into. You have made me think about this from the parents perspective, funny, I don’t know if I ever really thought about that in depth. Yes, they also had/have expectations and in some way we are defectors to the way in which they tried to lead us. Well from that perspective, most of them seem to handle it valiantly. Don’t know if I would handle change as well with my own kids. Now you’ve given me something to ponder. Thank you.

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