A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
While discussing the role of the Levites, Numbers 3:4 mentions Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu who had previously died. The verse says:
“Nadav and Avihu died before God when they offered an alien fire before God in the Wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children…”
This verse makes it seem as if they died for two reasons; first, for bringing a sacrifice they shouldn’t have and second because they didn’t have children. What is that about?
The Chassam Sofer, a transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom, explains why their not having children contributed to their deaths. Having and raising children is the ultimate path to self-development. I have a friend who has a blog about her homeschooling family. Her motto is “Homeschooling builds character….In the mother.” She is so right, but it isn’t just homeschooling, it’s parenting. Raising children forces us, their parents, to stretch and grow way beyond any measure we did before having children. You thought you had cultivated the character trait of patience when you were in high school? Wait until you’ve been kvetched (whined, complained) to all day long and then you get woken up right after you’ve fallen asleep. That’s when you begin to learn about patience!
Nadav and Avihu never had children and so they weren’t the best versions of themselves that they could be. They weren’t as sensitive to appropriate and inappropriate behavior as they would have been had they been through the great character development program called having children. And so, in a way, the fact that they didn’t have children was a key factor in the mistakes they made that caused their deaths.
And so, my friends, each time we feel challenged or stretched beyond our comfort zones by our children, each time we grow by being the adult in the room, by acting with greater wisdom and maturity than we thought we could, our children are the ones making that growth possible. We thought we helped our children grow and develop, but the Chasam Sofer reminds us that our children also help us grow and develop. It is their immaturity, their neediness, their constant watchful presence that spurs us higher and higher helping us become our greatest selves.
I wish you a beautiful day of love and joy with your children, a day where we and our kids will grow together higher and higher.
Susan’s note: While Rebecca’s words are spoken and written for mothers, I would like to add a few words in case these words spread beyond that group. God does not bless everyone with children, including those who yearn to raise a family. This piece of ancient Jewish wisdom does not condemn anyone who is childless to a life of stagnation or immaturity. It does highlight that, just as someone who is blind cultivates other senses to compensate for the lack of sight, someone without children must recognize that there is a lack of certain opportunities and find other means to achieve the goal of growth that having children most easily provides.