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Are Your Kids Good-Looking?

Are Your Kids Good-Looking?

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I once mentioned to my grandmother that in my experience, every mother thinks her children are good-looking.

“Not true,” was her immediate response,Every mother thinks her children are good-looking “if mine weren’t, I would have known.”

I guess I was right.

The question is, would parents still love their children if they didn’t think they were intelligent and beautiful and talented?

We all make the right noises about loving our children for themselves, irrespective of what they accomplish or how intelligent they may be. Yet, you have to admit, it’s easier to be proud of them when they’re up on the stage receiving an award than it is when you’re called into the principal’s office for a little chat about their behavior.

Personally, I can’t help myself. When I hear my children conspiring together to clean up their rooms “as a surprise for Mommy,” or when I watch them voluntarily practicing a new skill or learning some Torah by heart, I automatically feel more loving.

But I wish I didn’t.

It’s not exactly a moral failing on my part, but if I truly want to become a good parent, I must work on my failings and feelings, so that I demonstrate the same love during their occasional bouts of misbehavior.

In the portion of Emor, we read descriptions of all the festivals and their unique observances. On Passover, we eat matzah and avoid chametz. On Rosh Hashanah, we blow the shofar. A week later, on Yom Kippur, we fast. This is then followed by Sukkot, celebrated by shaking the lulav and etrog and living in a sukkah.

However, the holiday we commonly call Shavuot is simply referred to in the Torah as Atzeret, “the day of rest.” Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev justifies the rather boring title by pointing out that Shavuot has no unique mitzvah and that resting from work and keeping the laws of Yom Tov is actually the way we celebrate.

The Rebbe once discussed this concept and questioned why indeed Shavuot doesn’t get its own mitzvahs. You would think that the day that G‑d chose us as His nation and gave us His Torah would be marked with some distinctive mode of commemoration. Sure, we’ve developed the custom of eating cheesecake and ice cream, but that’s hardly biblical.

The Rebbe explained that our relationship with G‑d is actually best expressed through Shavuot, the mitzvah-less festival. G‑d chose us as His nation not for what we do, but for who we are. He wanted us. We didn’t need to offer anything inWe don't have to do anything to deserve His love particular to initiate the relationship, and we don’t have to do anything special to deserve His love.

Stripped back to its fundamentals, even when we do nothing at all, even when we are just resting, we’re still the people that G‑d wants. He gives us His gift of Torah as an expression of His unbounded, absolute love.

We are His people and He is our G‑d. He loves us, He chose us and He will continues to believe in us for all time.

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum is spiritual leader of Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation and co-director of L’Chaim Chabad in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.
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