Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Teves 5759, December 22, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Big Lessons From Little People

A few months ago, I got a job in the gan of my community. It has turned out to be a delightful experience. The part that I find most interesting is, of course, the kids and all the funny and smart things that they say and do. It is very gratifying, as well, to watch the shy child become more extroverted or another one learn to share graciously. It is exciting to watch the children learn to wait their turns or to sing in unison. The speed at which children can grow and change is amazing.

What has affected me the most, however, is the spiritual lessons that I have learned from observing them and these are the things that I hope will stay with me once the job has ended.

As a former social worker and therapist, I have spent many years helping adults face and define destructive behavior in order to make adjustments to gain quality of life and have better relationships. Whatever techniques are utilized, however, self image is difficult to change and self worth is often elusive. Many people feel that they will never be able to act any differently. They feel hopeless. Yet it is a problem most of us have, to one degree or another.

Not so with my four-year-olds! Ten minutes after cooling out time in the corner and they are new people! They are ready to apologize, ask forgiveness for whatever the aveira was, make amends and presto! They feel good as new. It's obvious. They are laughing, smiling, and playing once again, participating fully, not avoiding anyone or carrying a grudge, not sulking and, most of all, truly convinced that they will NEVER commit that particular sin again! And if they do - they act completely surprised! I am so moved!

Observing their hopefulness and their belief in themselves has impressed me deeply. I want to recapture that optimism again, as I believe it is essential to real tshuva. Even if the same child makes the same mistake the very next day, he is, again, completely sincere in his repentance ritual. He has his time out to think and say that he is sorry; he promises never to do it again, makes amends and really means it with all his heart. I can feel this instinctively as I search their innocent faces, listen to their voices and watch their bodies move. They truly believe in their own tshuva. Therefore, they are happy to rejoin the group and begin once again to learn and play and grow. How beautiful they are in their innocence and how I love them! Despite the fact that we are not little children and our sins may not be so small or easily mended, that is not the point here. It is a question of attitude. They have taught me a very valuable lesson: just go forward! Life is too exciting to be consumed with unnecessary guilt or with the past. Maybe you really will NEVER do `it' again.

Believe in yourself and get on with life! Live the present in joy and Hashem will help!


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