By Aryeh Ben David
Published in Ayeka’s newsletter
September 22, 2015
It’s a good thing we didn’t invite you to eat with us last Friday night.
Things started off normal enough. I came home from shul with my wife Sandra and daughter Lilach. Lilach’s older sister, Raaya, was asleep on the couch. Pretty normal for our officer who doesn’t get much sleep during the week.
We started singing Shalom Aleichem and then Aishet Chayil. I don’t have a very good singing voice, but I make up for it by banging on the table. Apparently, one shouldn’t bang on the table when someone else is sleeping in the room.
Raaya called out from the couch for me to stop the banging.
Undeterred, I picked up the pace and volume. After all, it is my house and I am the master of my castle (ahem). Anyway, I like to bang on the table on Shabbat. (My wife might add that there is also a very young immature boy hiding inside this very mature rabbi.)
This did not go over well with the sleeping daughter. Raaya got up, looked at me like one of her disobedient soldiers, and ordered me to stop.
Then, in another move of pure parenting genius, I smiled at her and said, “What a grump-pot.” She did not appreciate this. Especially after I said it a second time.
Things nosedived pretty quickly after that. She gave me a look, “The Look”, and then declared that she didn’t want a blessing from me and took off downstairs.
Whoops. Disaster. Didn’t see that coming. It was one of those “Now I have no idea what to do as a parent” moments.
My dear wife, the epitome of compassion, gave me a withering glance (The Look), which silently conveyed: “Did you have to say it a second time? Did you think that was funny?”
In the span of a few moments, Shabbes was down the drain. The next day was formally declared a demilitarized zone.
Everyone was in a bad mood. My wife tried some mediation, but neither Raaya nor I were in the mood to compromise or surrender. I’ll spare you the bloody details.
Motzei Shabbat, I was reading in my chair in the living room. Raaya came up the steps. Red-eyed. She shared how painful the last 24 hours had been for her. That took a lot of strength. I learn so much from our kids.
We talked quietly for a few moments and then shared an endless hug. The air in the room changed. I gave her the Shabbes blessing, just 24 hours later. It was especially powerful.
What do I take away from this?
It really is amazing how quickly things can break down.
It really is amazing how fragile we really are.
It really is amazing how “being right” can destroy worlds.
It really is amazing how much strength one needs to be vulnerable.
And it is really amazing how forgiveness can heal the world.
Yom Kippurim – the day of slicha u’mechila – is about to begin.
Let’s start healing the world. One relationship at a time.