April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Lech Lecha: 400 Years a Slave

Bereishit 15:13

-All I’m saying is, it wouldn’t kill you.

-Yes, Mom, it would. It would actually kill me.

-Just take a few years. Settle down, get married. Have a few kids. Then you can go to medical school.

-Never going to happen.

-Why not?

-I took all the science courses. I aced my MCATs. I did all the volunteer work and worked in a lab during the summer for three years. And I got into Einstein! I’m going to medical school, Mom.

-But I want to have grandkids! Esther Paltrowitz got married in the middle of college and now her mother is pushing her grandson around the neighborhood in a beautiful stroller. Such nachas.

-The grandkids will come in good time. It’s not like I’m never getting married. I just have to keep moving forward with my plans right now.

-And what kind of doctor is it you want to be again?

-A pediatric gastroenterologist.

-That is a whole lot of syllables, young lady. I don’t know about this.

-It’s going to be great, Mom. I promise.

-But don’t you want to have kids?

-Of course I do, eventually. But I have other goals, too.

-Mrs. Kanner wants to introduce you to her son Jeremy. He’s in law school.

-Nice for him.

-And what about that boy you dated in college? Pinny Solomon? I hear he’s still on the market.

-Sometimes there’s a reason somebody’s still single.


-Let’s just leave it at that.

-I know I should be proud. My daughter, the doctor! But I guess I’m a little bit selfish, too.

-A little?

-Oh, come on, cut me some slack!

-OK, OK. It’s not like I don’t understand where you’re coming from. But you have to get used to the idea of delayed gratification.


-Yes, seriously. It’s a very Jewish concept, you know.

-So I’ve been told.

-No, really, Mom. It’s all over this week’s parsha.

-I guess you’re going to tell me about it.

-You guessed correctly. When Hashem tells Avraham that He is going to make his descendants into a great nation, but first they would have to be slaves for 400 years, do you think Avraham was thrilled?

-I suppose not.

-Definitely not! It would be like God telling him, “You will have many successful descendants someday who will attend excellent colleges and produce lots of grandchildren, but first they must go to graduate school for 400 years!”

-Chas v’shalom!

-OK, it’s for four years, but then residency comes after that. Be patient, Mom. Avraham was patient. Sarah was patient. You can be patient.

-Maybe that portion of the Torah is just God’s way of telling Avraham that it’s natural for Jews to suffer, so he should just get used to it. Four hundred years of slavery is just the beginning. Exile is coming too, and eventually, their children are bound to disappoint them.

-I don’t think so, Mom. I don’t think there’s a lot of disappointment going on here. Just as for the Israelites the slavery was necessary for their evolution as a people, so too my becoming a doctor is needed for me to grow as the person I want to become. So, we have to let my future unfold slowly, just like the forefathers and foremothers in the desert had to.

-Delayed gratification, you say? I don’t know if I can get used to this.

-You’re going to love it.

By Larry Stiefel

 Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics.


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