A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
When school starts, fads tend to pick up. Remember fidget spinners? Deuteronomy 17:14 gives mothers a perspective on trends and fads that we may find helpful. It says, “When you come to the land that Hashem, your God, is giving you, and you inhabit it and settle in it, and you will say, ‘I will place upon myself a king like all the nations around me…’”
Sure enough, this is what happened. When the prophet Samuel was nearing the end of his life, the Jewish people came to him and said, “Make for us a king to judge us like all the other nations.” (1Samuel 8:5) Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that the concept to appoint a king is one of the 613 commandments of the Torah. (Deut. 17:15) We were supposed to have a king once we were settled in Israel.
But, the line, “just like all the nations that surround us,” was not part of the original idea. That is included in Deuteronomy as a prophecy, describing what will happen—and it was not a good thing. We were supposed to ask for a king because it was the right thing for us, but not because any other nations had monarchies. Right request, wrong reason.
I don’t know if you have kids at all similar to mine, but pretty much as soon as I give something or permission to do something to one of them, someone else is bound to come to me and say, “Since you said so and so can do this, can I also do it?” Probably, just as you do, I respond, “What your sibling does has no bearing on what you do. Ask me again for what you want, but this time don’t tell me what someone else has, just focus on yourself.”
This is the message we can learn from the way the Jewish people ended up asking for a king. Monarchy may be the right choice, but not for the wrong reasons. We were supposed to ask for a king because we were commanded to do so, not because the neighboring countries did.
This is an important message for us to give to our children. Life is not fair, and we are not given equivalent gifts in this world. Our children will be in situations their whole lives long where they see other people having things and doing things which they won’t be able to, or shouldn’t, have or do. If we can help them learn from a young age that we should each focus on what is right for us, regardless of what anyone else has or does, we are giving them a valuable tool for life. Yes, everyone else in your class may have a fidget spinner, but even if you should have one, the fact that others have it is not the reason for you to get one.