I pray for my children

Thursday, 12 May, 2022 - 5:21 am

“I pray for my children, that they won’t inherit my complexes” (in the original Hebrew: seritot – scratches, wounds), so sings the talented Chanan Ben Ari, and he is joined – both out loud and silently – by thousands of parents. This talented man manages to take everyday words and touch people from all sectors of society. He sings everyone’s feelings, and the truth is that he doesn’t sing at all – he prays; and tens of thousands pray with him. because that’s the way it is: Who doesn’t want to pray for his or her children? There is even a Yiddish version of this prayer.

I have Zoom sessions with parents who are searching for advice how to improve themselves. These are courageous people who look themselves in the face and wish to fix whatever is broken, heal the wound – and perhaps also the wounded – improve their listening skills, and, overall, know how to correctly express the love their hearts are filled with, allowing it to reach the son or daughter who are hiding behind a wall of silence, thinking that no one cares about them.

In one of these discussions, someone mentioned that song and said, “I really do pray that they won’t inherit my complexes.” I thought about it a lot and said to him, that so far as I know, even if I will succeed and they won’t inherit my complexes, they will probably acquire fresh, new ones – straight from me. Because that’s the way the world works. We pass on these things from one generation to another, get wounded or burned, deal with our wounds, but, apparently, we have no choice but to create new wounds in our children.

“You have seven children,” I said to him, “all sweet and good, may they be healthy. Each one is a world to himself, a completely different person, not only physically, but also emotionally; not only in the way he or she thinks, but in the way he or she feels. That is the reason that you can see children of the exact same parents, some of which will grow up and live with the feeling that their mother and father are the best in the world, and others will say otherwise, or even the opposite. Two children of the same parents, of the same family. One will live with the feeling that her mother is always there for her, and the other will perhaps experience the mother as someone who cannot accept her. And there isn’t much we can do about it. Every person has different feelings of deprivation, different tools they were given, and they will experience life in their own way. We cannot force them to feel what we want them to feel.

We can, though, wish to become better, more authentic human beings; so that the people closest to us will be able to really know us, know our hearts, know what really makes us happy and also what really saddens or worries us. They should be able to really get acquainted with us.

Pray that you should know to give your children at any given moment what you can give. But remember, there are times when you can give your all, and there are moments when you can’t – and that’s okay.

Pray that you will know to give them the tools to cope with the wounds that you and your wife will cause them, that they should know to rise above them and through them.

We will pray for ourselves – that we will enable the souls that Hashem has placed in our care to perform their mission in the world without fear.

“I pray for my children,” I sang with him, “that they won’t be afraid of my complexes, that they won’t be deterred by their own complexes, that they should always be happy.”

In honor of parashat Emor that we will be reading this Shabbat in the diaspora. This is a parasha of child education. As Rashi says about the first passuk: “Emor ve’amarta – ‘Say’ and ‘You will say’ – to warn the big ones about the little ones”. And the Rebbe was particular to understand the word lehazhir – to warn – as coming from zohar – to glow. In other words, the adults should make sure that the children shine like the heavenly lights.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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