The waters in any desert are a hot commodity. As the ancient tribes of Bnei Yisroel traversed the desert on the journey to Mt Sinai, parched with thirst and exhausted, they came upon water that was bitter! We can well imagine the response of the crowd, who, as the Chumash tells us, murmured against their humble leader Moshe Rabbeinu. How could this happen to us, why do we deserve this?...Moshe was then shown a tree, which when thrown into the waters, turned them into sweet and potable streams. The people partook of the water to quench their thirst, and then moved on.
As they entered the wilderness of Sinai, the Israelites’ lack of food made them once again despair and complain, wishing that they had remained in Egypt to at least die of starvation amongst the relative luxuries and comfort of their homes. Once again, the people were shown salvation from their lack of food with an abundance of “manna”—a heavenly food that tasted as one wished, and which continued to feed them continuously in the desert. Later on Bnei Yisroel again quarreled with Moshe, demanding drinking water. Again a miracle occurred, and water came pouring from a rock that Moshe was instructed to hit with his stick.
In the end, the Israelites suffered an attack from the Amalakites. And, according to our tradition, the One Above, removed himself from protecting the Jews due to their consistently, negative attitude towards all the open miracles He had provided for them, and yet allowed this encounter to happen as a consequence of Bnei Yisroel’s lack of appreciation. There are many lessons to be learned from this in our role as parents.
Parents are often exposed to their children complaining. There is a delicate balance between providing for our children’s needs on time, and having children learn patience and resilience in light of adversity. Not everything happens in life right when and how we want it. Often, it even turns out for the better, but complaining is certainly not the reason that it turns out that way. If anything, the negative responses to things only bring down the mood and resolve of a person, or entire family unit, making it difficult to be a happy, content human being. Gently stopping inappropriate complaining and whining is an important strategy that needs to be implemented in the parent-child relationship, so that children learn to trust that parents will provide what they need, but not always exactly what they demand.
THIS WEEK: Remove yourself from a child’s whining, and guide him back to appropriate ways of expressing his needs through soft and gentle speech. Give him opportunities to see your goodness, as the benevolent benefactor that every parent should be. He will then have a model as to how to respond to adverse reactions from others, as well as learn resilience and self-restraint in the long run, in light of the sometimes bitter experiences in life.