To Strike With a Shoelace…
Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 2, 2006
Yocheved shared an absolutely beautiful Story, that I thought would make a good Dvar Torah for this Shabbat – which is Shavuot, by the way!
“Thought I’d share this neat experience: When the girls were very young (they are 10 and 11 now) I read a midrash that said if you must strike a child, do so with a shoelace. I felt this was what G-d wanted for my children and that corporal discipline was an unneessary tool in their case. So I committed to this.One day, about a month ago, my little girl, Yemina was in a “funk”. She gets really moody sometimes and was really barking at her older sister, Zipporah, who is far more easy going. I had had about all I could take with her yelling at her sister and I went to my bedroom. A few minutes later, Z came in and was crying about something Yemina had said to her which was really ugly and demeaning and not worth reporting. I told her to send in her sister.
A few minutes went by and I knew my blood was boiling. I love a peaceful, quiet home, and Yemina was systematically dismanteling it. Then I prayed, and I decided not to do all the typical, “Straighten up or you will find yourself grounded, or eating by yourself, and so on. I abandoned all of that and asked G-d to give me wisdom. A minute later she appeared, sulking, arms crossed, her beautiful features twisted into a sour scowl. I didn’t say anything because wisdom hadn’t come yet. I didn’t know what to say without my arsenal of tricks. So it became quiet and frankly awkward and uncomfortable. Then, I said (very gently), “Yemina, I think you might be out of balance. Your yetzer ha-ra has been running unchecked lately.” I looked at her, she began to rock but clearly had nothing to say to me. Then I said, “you can feel it can’t you?” She bowed her head lower and started to sniffle. I went to her and held her with all the love in a mother’s heart.
I told her I loved her so much, and that it made me hurt when I saw her hurting and that we could pray together and start to feed the yetzer ha-tov in her by purposely doing good things so that it would grow stronger than her yetzer ha-ra, and that pretty soon, it would be so easy to control her bad impulses because they had been kept under check with discipline. She held me so tightly I thought she’d pinch me in two! And she wept a truly penetant and heartfelt cry for help. Ever since that day, things have never become so out of hand. I remind her of the inward check-up and she knows what is going on. I really think she didn’t know why she felt the way she did, and her anger and confusion was part of her lashing out.
I am really glad that MY Yetzer Ha Ra didn’t stay stirred up when dealing with her, because I would have missed a a real pinnacle turning point and a very tender moment. For what it’s worth– Shalom! Yocheved” Ref: “Rav said to Rav Samuel bar Shilat: If you hit a child, strike him only with a shoestring.”(Bava Batra 21a)
I am not going to comment further here – I might in my Torah Blog – but here this story stand pretty well for itself.