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Why Are We Selfish?

Why Are We Selfish?

Lessons From the Belly Button

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Question:

Can you explain my children to me? I have dedicated my life to looking after their every need. But if I ask one of them to get me a glass of water they moan and groan. Why are parents so much more devoted to their children than children are devoted to their parents?

Answer:

We are all descendants of Adam and Eve, the first human
We are not just apes with intelligence, but ethical beings with a belly button
beings. We have inherited from them the basic ingredients of human nature. They didn't have parents. They were created, not born. They had no umbilical cords, they probably didn't even have belly buttons. That's why the desire to look after our children is human nature, but looking after our parents (and our belly buttons) are skills that don't come naturally.

The genes we pass on to our children are not enough. We must pass on to them a moral code too. If they are raised to think of themselves as mere intelligent animals, then they will follow their instincts, which program them to care for themselves and their young, not their parents. But if we teach our children that they are moral beings who can go beyond their genetic programming, then we raise them to know that life is about doing what is right rather than what feels right, what is good rather than what feels good.

We are not just apes with intelligence, but ethical beings with a belly button.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Shimona Brooklym February 10, 2013

Bellybuttons I find the notion of whether Adam and Eve had bellybuttons to be fascinating. Being that they are created by G-d, a navel would seem superfluous. But then each of us is created in the Divine Image. And WE have bellybuttons. So does G-d?

I understand the practice of navel gazing as an aid to meditation. It takes me to the source of my personal physical existence and connects me in a direct line (cord) back to Adam and Eve. And with the cutting of the cord, I am separated from my Mother's heart and become dependent on my own. As such, I am brought into plurality and must find my way back to the One G-d.

So did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons? Reply

Itta Shnayder Miami, FL January 31, 2011

Children To raise the children right, first you have to behave normal, to show the right example to the children. Reply

Gabby May 26, 2006

re: Did Adam have a belly button This questioner is what is so wrong with today's society, especially those who are ensnared with the "keep up with the Joneses" mentaility.

Today, too many people have done their children more harm by giving them everything they have every wanted and didn't stop to think that they were teaching them to be selfish. That's why we teach our children from the time that they can talk to say thank you and please.

This leads to the thought process that leads those children into selfishness and in fact keeps them from the joy of giving, which is so much a part of Judaism.

Too many parents try to be their childrens' friends instead of first being their parent above all.

My advice would be to sit the children down and explain how things will be different. And stick to the statement "if you don't show me respect, then I cannot reward that behavior." Reply

Tracey Star awhatukee, ariona May 23, 2006

I think we are afraid of our children. Afraid that they will not love us if we ask them to help us or themselves.
When we ask our children for help or to help themselves we need to know and trust that we are teaching them and they will love us for giving them the opportunities to be a better person, eventually if we have done our jobs right :)
We need to take pride that we are raising children that are NOT ONLY very intelligent but that are open, receptive and caring to all human beings! especially their mothers! ha! Reply

Edith Brown Silver Spring, MD via chabadsilverspring.com May 22, 2006

Why Are We Selfish It is unfortunate to say in the least we have become a society of ourselves as number one. We go to therapist who tell us we owe nothing to the wonderful souls who sacrificed their hearts, love, endless hours, finaces, and support. If we see an elderly person struggling to open a door - do we assist them or do we get angry because they are in are way and holding us up? We warehouse our parents and relive our guilt. Should a parent be less giving? No. A parent guides their children through Torah and must hope they have learned. Reply

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