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Faith in the Future: The Ultimate Parenting Mindset

Imagine a scenario where you suddenly have to leave the home that you and your family have inhabited for hundreds of years. There’s no time to delay; you’re leaving so quickly that the dough you’re kneading won’t even rise.  Now, here’s my question. What will you pack? I can think of many things I would take, including family pictures and our favorite books. However, I don’t think I would race around packing musical instruments. Yet funnily enough, the women who left Egypt without time for their dough to rise, packed tambourines for the journey. 

Exodus 15:20 in this week’s Torah portion of B’shalach tells us, “And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aharon, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances.” Rashi, (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040–1105) teaches an amazing idea. “The righteous women in that generation were confident that God would perform miracles for them and they accordingly had brought tambourines with them from Egypt.” 

Isn’t that astounding? The women busily packing their family’s belongings felt such confidence and faith that they packed their instruments to be able to sing songs of gratitude in the future! While faith is a virtue for every person, the Torah makes a point of demonstrating the unique level of faith attained by the women of that generation. Women, mothers of children, embody faith. On a basic level, the very act of bringing a child into this world is an expression of faith. Shrinking birth rates are symptomatic of rising anxiety about the future. Higher birth rates (such as in Israel) reflect the optimism of the population. It’s no coincidence that the Hebrew word for faith, (Emunah) shares its root with the word for child raising (Omein). 

There is a deeper connection between faith and raising children. A parent looks at their young child and doesn’t only see the toddler or preteen in front of them. A parent’s vision extends to the future as they visualize the adult that child will one day become. Motherhood would be bereft of its magic if we didn’t have hope for our child’s future. A parent’s faith that their child will grow out of their current stage and thrive in the future gives them strength to withstand sleepless nights, teary tantrums, and temperamental teens.

This week, we celebrate the holiday of Tu B’Shvat (15th of Shvat) on the Jewish calendar. Tu B’Shvat marks the new year for the fruit of the  trees, but  it is celebrated in the midst of winter long before any fruit appears. (Tu B’Shvat has significance in the Torah’s agricultural laws as observed in the land of Israel.) It may seem strange to celebrate Tu B’Shvat long before flowers blossom and fruits grow, but the lesson of Tu B’Shvat is the same lesson the women in Egypt knew. Yes, it’s now the middle of winter, but we have faith that deep inside the trees, the sap is beginning to rise, initiating a process that will culminate in beautiful flowers and delicious fruit.

Faith enables us to look beyond the challenges of the moment and see the potential of the future. Every parent embodies faith and every parent needs faith each day they devote to raising their children. Yes, it can be frustrating to deal with our children’s exasperating realities. Yes, it can feel hopeless  when our child seems interminably stuck in a difficult place. Yet, deep down we have faith in our children’s futures. Just as the sap rises in the hearts of trees, hidden and invisible months before flowers blossom, our children grow and mature deep inside long before we see the results on the outside. Our mission is to have faith in their futures. Faith that they will mature, faith that they will grow past today’s challenges, faith that they will live beautiful, meaningful, productive lives. Faith is the hallmark of parents who dedicate themselves to raising the next generation long before they see the fruits of their labor.

I felt compelled to write about faith this week on the heel’s of today’s tragic news of 21 reservists killed in Israel. The heroes murdered by Hamas terrorists were husbands, fathers, sons, and grandsons. Most were Jews, but the group also included an Israeli Bedouin and Cedrick Garin, born in the Philippines. They were all dedicated to the hopeful mission of freeing the world from evil, and therefore I know they were all men of deep faith. May their memories be a blessing and may Hashem bring comfort to their families.


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Jan 26
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Wonderful inspiration, as always!

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Thank you. I appreciate hearing it.

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