They say that silence is golden, except when you have children, in which case it becomes suspicious!
But silence is certainly powerful and that is borne out in this week’s parsha. Our parsha tells us that when the Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim, the dogs did not bark. The Mechilta writes that for all generations, dogs receive a reward for this. They are given the meat of an animal rendered treife, that the owner cannot eat and this teaches us that HKBH does not withhold reward for any creature.
But didn’t the frogs in last week’s parsha do so much more? They swarmed into every nook and cranny of every Egyptian home and even jumped into hot ovens, literally killing themselves in order to do the will of their Creator! And the dogs merely didn’t bark! Why reward dogs for all time and not frogs?
Rav Osher Arielli offers a wonderful answer. Sometimes, showing restraint and not speaking is even more impressive than jumping into a hot oven.
We all know how tempting it is to respond or have the last word. Overcoming that temptation needs enormous self-restraint.
Lockdown also needs much self-restraint and discipline. Home study is difficult, not just for youngsters who must organise themselves, in addition to trying to concentrate for many lessons a day, but also for other members of the family who are juggling more balls than normal. There seems to be added layers of complexity in everything we do.
We are now in the third week of term and it is hugely gratifying to see so many students trying hard and stepping up.
As parents there is much we can do to help our children. First of all, taking care of ourselves and remaining positive so that there is a happy and upbeat atmosphere at home. But also encouraging our children to take daily exercise, get some fresh air, eat healthily, and do acts of kindness.
I know of a young man, not even bar mitzva, who calls a family friend twice a week. She is an older lady who is on her own and he tells her a few jokes. It keeps him busy and positive on a crusade to find jokes that will make his new friend laugh and it certainly brightens her otherwise very lonely day.
These days may be challenging but, as ever, they are full of opportunities to teach our children resilience and self-discipline.
A lesson not just from this week’s parsha, but for life.
Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi J Golker