Thursday, June 27, 2013

pre-mashiach era

I think that generally my children listen to me, respect me, do not speak to me with chutzpa, and are appropriately respectful to authority, even when they disagree.

Note the use of the word "generally."

This morning I forgot to wake Chana up to go to a museum trip that she didn't want to go on.  I forgot to tell her about it the night before.  We had discussed it when I signed her up, and probably the week before, but unless I let her know that the next day's schedule is different, she wakes on her own schedule.  (For example, I never have to wake her up for Parkour, since it is every week and she knows when we have to be out of the house.)

She dislikes most trips.  Even though I staunchly maintain that learning how humans lived 100 years ago is best discovered via museums where you can actually see how they lived, she thinks it is boring and complains about most field trips.*  So start off with her standard dislike of trips, then compound her unhappy mood by waking her up by shockingly saying, "It's time to leave right now this instant," add into the mix that she is twelve, and you have a grouchy pre-teen that is sulking for the entire trip and thereafter.
(*Perhaps I will one day write a post about how Chana and I navigate her dislike of field trips.)

When she came home, I very much wanted to do Chumash.  However, I knew that if I brought it up, she would snap at me.  She might, indeed, valiantly try to control herself from snapping at me.  She might begin snapping at me, take a deep breath, and continue in a more controlled tone.  (She also might yell at me angrily.)  The gist would be that she is tired, cranky, not in the mood, and she's not doing Chumash, and I shouldn't even ask.

Knowing this would be the likeliest outcome of requesting to do Chumash, I decided to skip it, spent some time talking to her about my morning and the many things that came up--not excusing me forgetting to wake her up with enough time to get ready to leave, but giving her some perspective, and just generally reconnecting emotionally and trying to open myself to her bad mood and understand her feelings.

When she felt better, and I felt like she wasn't sulking and wasn't angry at me anymore, immediately the urge came up to tell her to do Chumash.  Again, I felt that although she would probably be able to control herself even more certainly, she would still be upset at being asked to do Chumash.  So again, I controlled myself and refrained.

Although I stand by my decisions, and think that they were correct and made with her best interest and the best interest of my relationship with her and her relationship with Torah, a part of me feels like what is wrong with our society.  How does it come to this, that a mother is nervous to ask her young daughter to do something that is part of her daughter's daily responsibilities?  How are parents afraid of their children?  How is it that I have to take into account that my children might lose their tempers and feel outraged that I ask them to do something?

I consider my children respectful.  I sometimes hear children speak to their parents and I am horrified.  I would not tolerate my children speaking to me that way.

And yet, a lot of the method, in this generation, to raise children who will not speak to their parents that way, is to be extremely careful about what things will infuriate the children.  To choose carefully what to ask for and to choose words and tone carefully.  To speak respectfully to them, and to learn to de-escalate when the dialogue gets heated.  To back down when they are stubborn, and to discuss it at least 24 hours later when things have calmed down. To separate the discussion the chutzpa tone from the discussion of the actual issue.  All of this takes diligence and patience and a great deal of evaluation and thought.  And practice.

I cannot help but think that there were other generations where respect for authority was more ingrained in society.  Where children and teenagers were conditioned from a young age to respect their elders and to listen to them.

I'm not saying that is necessarily the better way.  Questioning authority leads to the removal of injustice, the removal of corruption, the removal of bureaucracy, and to innovation and creativity and discovery and freedom.

Furthermore, I've said many times, as much as children "should" respect elders, elders "should" behave in a way that is worthy of respect.

However.  It does astonish me that parents cannot simply ask their children to do things and expect compliance.

In Gemara Sotah 49b it says:
b'ikvah d'meshicha chutzpah yasgeh

Before Mashiach comes, brazenness will be rampant... Truth will be hidden, youths will embarrass elders, and elders will stand in front of the small;
 A son will disgrace his father, a daughter will stand up against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies are his household...


  1. shout out to Dr. Emily Amie Witty for finding me the gemara source. Thank you!

  2. This might be relevant....

    ג ייראה מפשוטן של דברי הנביאים, שבתחילת ימות המשיח תהיה מלחמת גוג ומגוג; ושקודם מלחמת גוג ומגוג, יעמוד נביא לישראל ליישר ישראל ולהכין ליבם: שנאמר "הנה אנוכי שולח לכם, את אלייה הנביא" (מלאכי ג,כג). ואינו בא לא לטמא הטהור, ולא לטהר הטמא, ולא לפסול אנשים שהם בחזקת כשרות, ולא להכשיר מי שהוחזקו פסולין; אלא לשום שלום בעולם, שנאמר "והשיב לב אבות על בנים" (מלאכי ג,כד).

  3. my translation:
    it seems from the plain meaning of the prophets, that at the beginning of the days of mashiach will be the war of gog and magog, and that before the war of Gog and Magog, a prophet will stand for Israel to straighten out Israel and to prepare their hearts, as it says (in malachi), "behold, I sent to you Eliyahu the prophet." And he will not come to make tameh the tahor, and not to make tahor the tameh, and not to disqualify people who are assumed kosher, and not to kasher those who are presumed pasul. but rather to put peace in the world, as it says (in malachi), "And he will return the hearts of the fathers on the children."

    Aside from the fascinating quote (from rambam, i think) that the navi won't answer shailas of tuma and tahara (I always thought he would say who is really a kohen and who isn't), it seems to be saying that the job of the navi will be to straighten us up and to bring peace.

    Am i to infer from this that i'm fighting a losing battle and that children are inherently disrespectful? like i said, i think it CAN be done. (though at this point i'm only 1/5 finished so who knows what will be.)

    Do we need a prophet to help us out here?

  4. heres the hesber...

    The Qs would be as follows. What's the relevance of the pasuk to peace?

    In general the psychologists talk about dictators and their psychology. They had very punitive parents and the emasculation they feel as a child is expressed in destruction of the world. Hitlers father was a nut-job, and his libido found an outlet in art until outside forces didn't allow for that expression.

    The same exists for chavez and achmidinajaad. Thus the peace, and lack of aggression will come about through making this idea salient.

    ((Perhaps the rambam is saying that this navi will be fully cognizant of the fact that all of our issues are a function of our childhood and in general kids have some anger towards their parents-all taking place during the superego development.)

    The problem with our Dor is that they are too much into tzidkus(ppl are very machmir on stuff), and the yishur yisroel would be an attempt to get everyone on the middle path as per the first rambam in deos-the straight and good path. People don't recognize that it's their father figures who cause this hakpada.

  5. I think R bachya in maamer guela says this navi will come from shevat levi...

    1. it's a stira in the rambam-he then says.. ויש מן החכמים שאומרים שקודם ביאת המלך המשיח, יבוא אלייהו.

    2. It's the old story of humanity. Kids need a lot of love, they are pretty much helpless...and sometimes there is a miscommunication. It tends to be that fathers can come home after a long day of work and displace some rage. Thats frightening for young children and has long term effects.

      The pasuk is saying that the peace will come about through "returning hearts of fathers on children"...meaning there will a culture of proper child rearing. The returning of hearts=making this idea salient.

      All neurosis tend to stem from bad parenting(ocd in particular).

      I mentioned the dictators because sometimes punitive fathers cause for such destructive personalities. There are of course many other neuroses that stem from bad parenting. The peace will come about through proper education about this reality...

    3. connect the word yishur to the word yishur in hilchos deos...(the straight and good path.)- [ג] שני קצוות הרחוקות זו מזו שבכל דעה ודעה, אינן דרך טובה; ואין ראוי לו לאדם ללכת בהן, ולא ללמדן לעצמו. ואם מצא טבעו נוטה לאחת מהן, או מוכן לאחת מהן, או שכבר למד אחת מהן, ונהג בה--יחזיר עצמו למוטב וילך בדרך הטובים, והיא דרך הישרה.

  6. I dont have the time to comment on all the thoughts relating to your well written blog.. but I will say one thing...

    I have long ago REFUSED to be any childs alarm clock who is over 10 years old.. I buy them all their own clocks.. including shabbos clocks with multiple times ( for choices of minyans and naps) as well as weekday settings.. I will not be responsible for someone elses time.. I have enough keeping track of my own schedule and keeping to it...this btw includes waking up husbands ( only one lol) ..

    Everyone in my family is aware of the natural consequences.. or not so natural consequences of not getting up on time. IMHO being responsible to be ready for what is expected of you is a GIGANTIC life lesson that should be learned early and is invaluable. If my schooled kids miss the bus.. its their job to figure out how to get to school ( staying home IS NOT and option) With regard to homeschooled kids.. I think it needs to be viewed in the realm of show me you are responsible and then I will treat you as a responsible person with age appropriate privileges.. no responsibility, no seems an appropriate Midah kneged midah approach to me.....just imho..:). Getting your self to be up and ready on time will be really useful later in life! and even now!