After a month of Jewish holidays, I am thinking about how to bring all of the intentions that I committed myself to starting in Elul to fruition: To follow through on commitments I make, to get less angry, to be more generous.
There’s always a certain zeal that accompanies new beginnings. A kind of full throttle – I am IN!
And while there is a place for that, there is another lesson I am learning from the prayer for rain that we said at the very end of the prayers on Shemini Atzeret at the end of the Jewish holiday cycle. It struck me this year as particularly poignant.
Rain should fall,
For blessing and not for a curse – L’bracha v’lo l’klala
For life and not for death – L’hayyim v’lo l’mavet
For feast and not for famine – L’sovah v’lo l’razon
All the rain that we pray for should rain down, and water dry plains for the benefit of farmers and farmland everywhere. We have all been aware when rain pour is out of balance and destroys crops, homes, and lives. The recent Hurricanes Ida and Sam are still fresh on our minds.
Rain, which is so necessary and life-giving, when it comes down in torrents, is no blessing at all. When the measure is off, then what began as life-sustaining can become deadening. With rain as a guiding metaphor, trying to understand what the right measure of qualities we want to inculcate into our children is the art of living soulfully as a parent.
-I want to give my pre-teen the freedom he craves, and know that even though he may resist them, he needs us to set firm boundaries.
-I want to give my youngest every opportunity to do things by herself and also know that sometimes we need to get things done and a measure of curtailing her independence to keep the whole family moving along, also has its place.
-I want to take my child’s lead about what her interest is and also be clear that I am not available all the time to guide her, because I am also focused on my own work.
For blessing and not for a curse – L’bracha v’lo klala
Some of us are the kinds of parents that want to pour ourselves into our children, and others of us are stricter, knowing that strong boundaries cultivate disciplined and well-adjusted children. I invite us all to remember the lessons from the prayer for rain. Just enough. Too much of one quality can drown all of our good intentions.
May all of our prayers be answered in the days and weeks ahead, all in the right measure.
Blessings for the journey,