A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
According to the ancient Jewish divisions, chapter 16:1 begins a new portion in the book of Leviticus. The verse begins, “And God spoke to Moses after the death of Aharon’s two sons, when they approached before God and they died.” Ancient Jewish wisdom asks why the Torah tells us that the instruction that will follow was given after Aharon’s sons died. It answers with an allegory about a patient receiving detailed instructions from a doctor. The patient might be tempted to ignore them. However, if the patient is told, “These are your instructions, follow them or else you will die just like Mr. Ploni died,” he will feel the warning more viscerally and is more likely to obey orders.
The day after the death of Aharon’s sons was the right time to communicate relevant laws to future priests. There are right times and wrong times to try and instruct or correct people. It’s interesting that one of the sins of Nadav and Avihu was their inability to wait for life to unfold in the right time. These sons of Aharon used to say to each other, “When will these old men, Moses and Aharon, die so we can be the leaders of the nation?” That time would have come eventually, but they were unable to appreciate that there are wrong times and right times and to wait until the time was right.
I’d also like to point out that the lesson God instructs the priests right at this time, adjacent to the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, is one of timing, “…he should not come at all times into the Sanctuary.” Rather, there is a specific time on the specific day of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) when it is the right time.
What can we mothers learn from this? Timing matters. Sometimes we want to tell our child something, to correct them or direct them, and we feel the urge to say it now because we want the relief of unloading our pent up emotions. But that is often not the right time to speak. Rather, we should have patience and wait for the time to be right before we correct or direct. We need to do it at the right time for our child when they can listen and learn in the best way.
I will end with the reminder of what we already know; connection precedes direction. Almost always, if not always, the best time to teach our children is when they feel connected to us, in a state of closeness and love. When we tap into our loving relationship with our children, when our children feel close to us, that is the best time to teach. I don’t know if this is the Torah’s message here, but I will note that the context of this discussion is the Yom Kippur service, the day that we are closest and can come closest, into the Holy of Holies, to God.
For today, let’s try to find the right times and try to create the right times of loving connection before we direct or correct our children.