A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ Post by Rebecca Masinter
Deuteronomy 18:13 says, “You should be tamim with Hashem your God.” Tamim is a difficult Hebrew word to understand. It is alternatively translated as simple, blameless or perfect. None of these capture the whole picture. One of the main transmitters of ancient Jewish wisdom, known as Rashi, beautifully discusses this Hebrew word. His elucidation here is especially appropriate considering that the verses surrounding this one deal with the forbidden practices of magic and sorcery.
We are not to try to uncover the future, to predict it, or stress about it. Rather we are supposed to look to God as the one who gives us each moment, and we should accept each moment as it is, with simplicity. At one and the same time, plan, work and strive for the future while also trusting in the moment. While “simple” has a negative connotation in English, simplicity is a different ball game. Here it is clearly intended as a lofty aspirational value. This is such a powerful statement and such a challenging concept.
This idea may be especially challenging for mothers. After all, we are the ones who are responsible for the future generation! Surely we need to worry about the future! Surely if anyone has a right to feel anxious about what is coming down the line it is a parent whose job is to raise a child for the future! But, no. Apparently, that isn’t our job. Yes, we build for the future. Yes, we do our best to help each child be prepared for his future. But no, we don’t run in circles and try and make the future unfold the way we want it to. No, we don’t get anxious or stressed about what will be. We try to accept with simplicity everything that God brings upon us in the moment.
I’d like to suggest one reason why I think this idea is challenging for some of us and what we can do about it. I think mothers tend to extrapolate from today’s reality and worry that what is today will always be the reality. You know what I mean, don’t you? For example, a mother who is worried that her son is bored in school can very quickly assume this means he will always be bored in school. Before you know it, her mind has jumped to what will happen if he’s bored in school forever: what if he starts disrupting the class, maybe he’ll be kicked out of class, eventually he’ll be kicked out of school, he’ll end up in the streets and be estranged from God. All these calamities can run through a mother’s head simply because her son told her he was bored in his first week of school.
Or maybe a mother got a call from her child’s teacher that her daughter was mean to a classmate today. That mother’s brain can jump right from today’s instance to the whole future of this child, worrying about what this means in a much bigger, more general way than the incident requires.
I think a message we can take from this verse is to accept life as it unfolds and let God take care of foreseeing the future and bringing it about.
Walking this way with God, not stressing about the future, is also a great lesson to teach our children. Especially as anxiety in children has skyrocketed in recent years, this may be a lesson we want to consciously teach them over and over. We can share with our children that we can trust in God and accept what He gives us at this moment without worrying about the next moment. It’s truly a lofty vision, but one that will help our children day today just as much as it helps us.
I want to thank each one of you who has reached out to me to tell me you appreciate the ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ column. It really means a lot to me when I hear that you are reading and enjoying it.