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Boring Parenting? Committed Parents.

There are precious parenting moments as when your child embraces you in a loving hug. There are proud parenting moments such as when you overhear your child displaying kindness and sensitivity to another. There are fulfilling moments of parenthood as when you help your child overcome a challenge. And then there are the humdrum, uninspiring, and dull parenting times like when you’re driving the third carpool of the day or filling out an insurance form in triplicate. While we feel fulfilled in the exciting parenting times, other tasks make us feel boring and mundane. That’s a mistaken approach. A parent’s value is not based on the worthiness of their actions, but rather on their underlying commitment to be present in both the fulfilling and humdrum parts of their children’s lives. Beneath the surface of a mother rocking her baby to sleep and cleaning her toddler’s vomit lies the same single commitment to her children.

Human nature tempts us to value significant parenting acts and discount tedious ones. Yet this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Behar (Leviticus 25:1-26:2), gives us a new perspective. Although the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai occurred way back in the middle of Exodus, this section begins with the following verse, “And the Lord spoke to Moshe (Moses) in Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you come to the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath to the Lord’.” This mitzvah (commandment) instructs the Jewish farmers in the Land of Israel to rest from agricultural work every seven years for the Shmita, the Sabbatical Year. (If you are interested in seeing modern farmers and their wives keep this mitzvah, I recommend these short video clips of Jamie Geller interviewing farmer’s wives during the most recent shmita year.

It’s surprising that the Torah specifies that the laws of shmita were given at Sinai, when that isn’t unique to the Sabbatical Year. All 613 commandments were taught at Mount Sinai. Why is this specific commandment selected as the example that reminds us that all laws were taught at Sinai? Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin (1823-1900) teaches that it would be easy for us to assume that only the lofty commandments were taught to Moshe at Mount Sinai and all the rest are second-tier mitzvot given at less inspiring historical times. By stressing that the laws governing planting, pruning, and harvesting the land’s produce were taught at Sinai, the Torah is teaching us that the seemingly humble, mundane commandments are spiritually equivalent to aspirational ones. Hashem (God) is as involved in the way we farm our land as He is in our prayer or worship service. 

A parent’s devotion to their child is equally present in diaper changes and graduation ceremonies. It’s tempting for us to downplay our daily parenting accomplishments because they seem so trivial, yet that is a mistake. It is precisely in the down to earth, seemingly mundane acts of service that parents demonstrate their commitment to their children. Our children’s development isn’t as dependent on the grand vacations or annual birthday bashes as it is on our being there for and with them through the nitty-gritty of their daily lives. Boring parenting tasks are not the hallmark of boring parents. Instead, boring, humdrum tasks are lovingly completed by committed parents who are present in both the exciting and mundane parts of their children’s lives.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Sgt. Shira Shohat, 19, of Modiin who was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7 in the observation room of the Nachal Oz IDF outpost where she was trying to direct IDF troops to counter the terrorist invasion. May Hashem avenge her death and bring comfort to her family.


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