Yesterday Manette and I took Danit to college. Like millions of parents we convened at dorms at the appointed time, ferried luggage and boxes up staircases and elevators, became acquainted with a roommate and parents, helped to unpack and set up too many belongings which just barely fit -transforming a dorm into a micro-home. We assisted in decorating half a room, simultaneously suggesting where to hang a picture and stepping back - allowing her to make her decisions. We walked the tightrope of being involved and restrained; wanting to be in charge and knowing that this is one of many next steps when she needs to be in control. It was a judgement call. We managed- saying goodbye and driving away with a few tears shed by all of us. And now she is on her own.
Like many parents we have sought to instruct our daughter in making the right choices; whom to trust, how to withstand negative peer pressure, be independent, “remember to be safe “and “do not ever forget that we love you.” Time and again these past days leading up to this departure I have wondered to myself “what more could I say to her?” knowing that as many times as I say “make the right choices” and “don’t ever forget that we love you.” it would never be enough and I could always reiterate the message.
Like many parents Manette and I wished her well, knowing we had to trust in her own abilities. But, different than other parents, we as Jewish parents affixed a Mezuzah to the doorpost ( inside the door and using sticky stuff) and we all said the Mezuzah Brachah and She-he-cheyanu. Including her roommate, we blessed them to make good choices and reminded them to be menschen, relying on our faith in Danit and our own imperfect parenting.
This week Jews the world over will read Parshah R-ay, the fourth Parshah of Devarim/Deuteronomy. Like parents leaving university, Moses bids farewell to his people. Unlike millions of parents though, Moses will never see his “Children” of Israel again. His final farewell must last for all recorded Jewish history. Knowing his words are limited Moshe opens this portion of his speech with the following words;
"See, this day I give you the choice -- a blessing, a curse."
Moses ultimately realizes that It all comes down to individual choice. We can only do so much in the ways of speechifying. Sooner or later every person will make choices and some of those choices will yield blessing and some will yield downfall. As parents, we must rely on training, modeling, loving guidance, instilling Jewish values of honor and compassion and imprinting Jewish traditions of righteousness and justice within our children. The rest is up to them.
May all of our children starting a new chapter in their lives learn from their mistakes and grow in the paths of responsibility, maturity ,humanity and integrity.
May all of us do the same. Let us all choose wisely beginning on this anniversary of Moses's challenge-blessing and every day thereafter.