May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Making Space for Each Child

Something fascinating takes place during this week’s parsha; something so subtle most of us wouldn’t notice it had the Midrash not called our attention to it.

Parshat Tetzaveh is the only parsha in the Torah, since Moshe is introduced in Parshat Shemot, that does not contain Moshe’s name. All other parshiot in the Torah explicitly mention our nation’s leader. Our parsha is the exception. While it’s clear that Moshe is part of the ceremony that takes place in the parsha, his name is not mentioned at all.

Why is this? We know that all details in the Torah are by design; nothing is by chance. So why does our parsha specifically omit Moshe’s name?

I would like to share a simple, yet very poignant, answer that my father, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, shares in his “Unlocking the Torah Text Shemot” (pg. 243). Parshat Tetzaveh focuses on the creation and fashioning of the bigdei kehuna, the clothing that adorned the kohen gadol. As such, “Parshat Tetzaveh is ‘Aharon’s parsha,’ the section of biblical text that introduces the glorious role that Aharon and his descendents will assume across the ages.” Therefore, Moshe deliberately steps out of view during this parsha—to allow his brother Aharon to be front and center, and in the spotlight.

Moshe’s actions here are particularly astounding if we consider the Gemara Zevachim 102a. The Gemara quotes Rashbi, who maintains that initially Moshe was meant to be the kohen gadol in addition to all his other responsibilities. However, due to his continued refusal to accept his mission at the burning bush, Hashem withdrew the honor of the kehuna and gave it to Aharon instead.

We could imagine, then, that when the time comes for Aharon’s anointment as kohen gadol, Moshe may feel regret or jealousy at the opportunity lost. And yet, we see none of that. Instead, Moshe graciously moves aside, allowing Aharon his “moment to shine.”

One of the constant challenges of parenthood is finding a way to give appropriate time and attention to each child. I remember when my wife and I had our first child; somehow, she managed to keep us both busy. When our second child was born, we played “man to man,” one parent per child. Once number three came, we had to shift strategies, as we were outnumbered and needed to divide our time and attention between all the children. This challenge only grows as the family grows, and as the children get older, and generally needier.

What often results is that the louder and more active children receive most of the attention, while the quieter, calmer children receive less consideration. This is not anyone’s “fault”; parents are human, with a limited amount of time and emotional energy. It is natural to be pulled toward those that demand of us more, either explicitly or implicitly.

And yet, the message of our parsha is crucial for us to consider. Moshe was the Jewish people’s greatest leader, and received much attention and publicity that came with that role. Yet he was acutely aware that his brother Aharon had a tremendous amount to contribute to the Jewish nation—and when it was Aharon’s turn to be featured, Moshe took a step back and allowed Aharon to be in the limelight.

As parents, we must make sure that each child is given the proper attention and time that they deserve, and an opportunity to “shine.” Those children who are low maintenance are no less deserving of our attention—even if they don’t openly demand it as much. While it’s natural that at times we may need to focus on one child more than the others, we must be mindful to recalibrate when possible and not let a unique situation become the norm by default.

However, it’s not simply about the quantity of time spent with each child, but more about the quality of the time that we dedicate. A couple of suggestions to consider:

1) Every child has talents and interests unique to them. It’s important to encourage each child to develop those interests and talents in enjoyable and meaningful ways. Doing so will help each child experience their uniqueness and feel appreciated for it. In this way, there will be an area where each child is naturally able to “shine.”

2) Many parenting experts suggest making time each week for a parent to spend time with each child—a time when the child has the undivided attention of the parent. Such an experience can be incredibly meaningful, both for child and parent. Even in situations where this idea seems daunting, if we think creatively there are many potential moments when a parent could spend a few minutes with each child alone—perhaps most significant would be the moments before bedtime. If we parents can ensure that a child is given at least a few minutes of “alone” time at bedtime, those moments have the potential to be tremendously impactful.

We parents are human—and limited in our time and emotional capacity. It is not necessarily realistic to spend equal amounts of time with each child. Yet if we are thoughtful and strategic we can ensure that every child is given the time and attention that he needs, as we make time for each child to have their “time to shine.”

Wishing everyone a Shabbat shalom!

Rav Yossi Goldin is the menahel tichon at Yeshivas Pe’er HaTorah, rebbe at Midreshet Tehilla, and placement adviser/internship coordinator for the YU/RIETS Kollel. He lives with his family in Shaalvim and can be reached at [email protected].

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