June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Some children grow up living in their parents’ shadows. For some, the shadows are only literal, and once they grow taller, they find their own identities. However, other children have parents whose accomplishments are so important and well-known that these children feel pressure to do the same. It can be tough to feel like “So and So’s Kid” and instead of being your own person.

Roberta Moses, DOCTOR Roberta Moses to us, grew up in a similar situation. Her father cast a King Kong-sized shadow wherever he went. Roberta’s dad was a world-famous author, actor and inventor. On top of that, he was an Olympic medalist in track and field, and an accomplished pediatrician. Oh, and then there was the matter of his name, Robert Moses. Imagine having a father like that and having almost the exact same name! Yes, growing up Moses was hard, although it was rewarding as well. Robert Moses, despite being very busy, was a wonderful father and family man. He took his wife and children on many of his adventures, and did what he could to help his children follow their dreams.

Of all the Moses children, only one, Roberta, wanted to follow in her father’s medical footsteps. Since she was little, Roberta spent as much time as she could at her dad’s office. She had an endless supply of questions about being a doctor, and her favorite board game was, you guessed it, Operation. Roberta was proud of her father’s accomplishments and fully intended to join her father’s pediatric practice one day. And as it turns out, that “one day” eventually came.

After graduating medical school, Roberta followed her own path. She spent three years at a hospital, three more years at clinics in South America, helping some of the world’s poorest people. Roberta then spent the next seven years at different positions around the United States. This way, Roberta could practice medicine and see the country. Finally, Roberta returned home to join her father’s practice. In fact, Robert Moses was ready to retire from the practice and work part-time. He was hoping to hand Moses Family Medicine over to Roberta, who had become an excellent pediatrician in her own right.

As skilled of a doctor Roberta was, the transition to taking over the practice was a challenge. For whatever reason, Roberta had a problem feeling like the real leader of the practice. Okay, the reason was actually pretty obvious: her world-famous superstar father doctor with almost the exact same name was still working at the practice! Although he only had a few patients, he liked to hang around and help Roberta, offering her medical, business and other advice. Roberta truly appreciated her father’s help; he had been doing this for years and this was her first time running a practice. However, she needed to find a way to shrink his shadow down to being groundhog-sized.

Thankfully, Roberta had a good enough relationship with her father to discuss this challenge with him. Dr. Moses Senior completely understood, and together, father and daughter made a few changes. First, the original Doctor Moses decided to only take patients from new families. This way, he could introduce himself as an “associate doctor” so the newbies wouldn’t know his original status. Secondly, he decided that he would have set hours at the office. He would see his patients, spend a maximum of an hour keeping an eye on things, and then head out. Roberta suggested her father use his newfound free time for something constructive, so he decided to try knitting.

Despite these changes, the atmosphere in the office still felt like Dr. Robert was the boss. He tried his best to stay out of the spotlight, but the other associate doctors and nurses still came to him for advice more often than to his daughter. It probably didn’t help either when he brought in home-knitted hats, gloves, scarves and sweaters for everyone at the office. His “fashion” creations were now the talk of the office, and the employees would use them for betting: loser has to wear an original Dr. Robert sweater out in public. Roberta didn’t know what to do. She needed to take charge, but she could never ask her dad to disappear!

Fortunately for Roberta, her father decided to leave the practice independently. One morning, father and daughter were standing near each other when a nurse called “Doctor Moses!” Roberta turned around to respond, but quickly turned back when she realized the nurse was trying to get her dad’s attention. Robert noticed this as well, and also when it happened twice more that morning. So, Dr. Robert went around the office saying his goodbyes and taking down every reference to him—photographs, his name, the sweaters he hung in the coat closet. The next day he legally changed the name of the practice to Sunshine Family Medicine and had the sign outside the office changed to match the new name. Dr. Moses was not sad; he was doing what was best for his own daughter.

With Dr. Robert out of the picture, the employees at the office became nervous. Could Roberta accomplish what her father had? Would the practice keep the same level of success? Well, any doubts were completely erased over the next few months. Roberta quickly stepped out of her father’s now-normal-sized shadow and began to shine. The atmosphere is the office was as positive as ever as new patients and families seemed to be signing up on a daily basis. Of course Roberta was a bit suspicious about all of this. Was Daddy behind the scenes? Were these new patients being recruited by her father? Did she really earn this success or was it still a result of her dad’s reputation?

To find out, Roberta first asked her father. “No, sweetie. This is all you. I haven’t called in any favors or pretended that I am still at the practice. In fact, there was an article in the paper about my retirement. The author made it clear that I am completely gone.” Roberta wasn’t completely satisfied, so she had the office send out a survey to their new families. When the responses came in, Dr. Roberta was finally able to smile. The results clearly showed that her presence, expertise, and attitude was the reason new families came and stayed. Fittingly, Roberta was reading the results outside on a cloudy day. When she finished, the sun broke through, revealing her own shadow on the ground.

Megillat Esther famously does not include Hashem’s name. The most popular explanation is that Hashem was controlling the story, but behind the scenes. The message is that even when you can’t see His hand, Hashem is always making things happen. However, maybe the opposite is true. In this week’s parsha, Tetzaveh, Moshe’s name is also left out. This is completely fitting because the parsha is all about Aharon and the kohanim. In order to properly give Aharon the spotlight, Moshe’s name is removed, giving the kohanim their well-deserved moment.

Perhaps this is the lesson of Megillat Esther. Sometimes we use Hashem as an excuse. “I could try again, but I failed, so that’s what Hashem wanted.” “Why should I try to make the world a better place? If Hashem wants things to improve, He will make it happen.” Omitting Hashem’s name from the Megillah could be a lesson to us all. Sometimes Hashem takes a back stage so that we can step up. Take a look around. If it seems that Hashem isn’t helping out—maybe He is waiting for you to. Let’s make the world a better place, one opportunity at a time.


Yair Daar is the middle school dean of students at Yeshivat He’Atid. He can be reached at
[email protected].

By Yair Daar

 

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