| Parshah |

Kings Among Men

“And God called the expanse Heaven, and it was evening, and it was morning, a second day.” (Bereishis 1:8)

The second day of creation is unique since Hashem didn’t say “ki tov — it was good,” [as He did on all of the other days of creation]. Chazal explain that this is because the second day was marred by rejection, due to the division of the world’s water into two separate entities — waters above the firmament and waters consigned to the lower physical world. Why is this fair to the lower waters?

Comes the Eibeshter’s assurance that the waters underneath the firmament would have their time by supplying the nisuch hamayim in the Beis Hamikdash on Succos.

All good, right? Not! There’d be no Beis Hamikdash for another 30 centuries! That’s what you call equal status? And how does a “shpritz” of water once a year equal an eternal spiritual upgrade? Too little, too late. (Rav Yisrael Kleinman, Timely Messages)

Often it feels like I’ve raised two separate families. I’ve spent years raising my girls, cooking, baking, shopping, and enjoying them as an extension of me.

Then I entered my boys’ years, where I stood on the outskirts trying to teach them to make a bed, wear socks without holes, feeling like an alien in a Snails-Puppy-Tails Zone.

I’ve tried to adjust. To appreciate the intricacies of bicycle chains, to squelch my instinctive revulsion at their snail farms. But at no time do the clear demarcations set in more than at Succos time. Let’s face it. I may make a wicked cholent, but put a hammer in my hand and the world’s a dangerous place.

Many people are overly preoccupied with their status in their physical life. Yet in avodas Hashem, the Eibeshter revels (kiveyachol) in every Yid’s mitzvos.

You hear fantastic stories of big gedolim “shuckling” their lulavim and chasing off hurricanes. But Hashem wants little ol’ me to shake my lulav as well — with the same fantastic results. The biggest Rebbe cannot exercise his authority to convene a minyan, until a mere bar mitzvah boy finally walks in as the tenth man. So much for status and position.

This past week I watched in awe as my crew of guys went into action. We have several succahs for eating and sleeping, and each has its own infrastructure. Personally, the sight of so many small metal parts makes me dizzy. Each of those tiny tin thwiggies must match with an equal tiny thingamaggigy piece and then be fitted into a specific hole of equal dimensions.

But here’s my seven-year-old, who can’t put away his clean laundry, sorting screws with accuracy and speed. My 11-year-old, an absent-minded professor who can’t find his glasses when they’re perched on his nose, is labeling boxes and beams so they’ll be organized next year. My teens, who groan and moan if they need to lift a bag of garbage or groceries, are schlepping heavy boards and bundles of bamboos and enjoying every second of it.

I stand on the sidelines, once again an outsider, and ponder the paradox.

Probably the single most gratifying experience is the acknowledgment that you are relevant. The attainment of relevance may take years or even a lifetime of effort for a brief moment of glory, but that moment makes it all worthwhile. So too in mitzvos. It may just be a “shpritz” of a “mitzvaleh,” and it may be just once, but the impact is eternal.

The worldly waters were ecstatic to hear that in three thousand years, a soda bottle’s worth of their substance would create nachas ruach for the Eibeshter — something that even the highest angels couldn’t hope to obtain! Thus, their presence in creation was relevant, establishing their eternal worth.

One of my sons came dashing around a corner dragging something heavy behind him.

“You don’t have to stand and watch us, Ma. We know what we’re doing. We’re succah kings!” He punched his fist into the air.

Finally I placed my finger on the pulse that’s powering this procedure. My boys are kings of the moment. They’re sharp, savvy succah specialists, experts in the nuts and bolts of assembly and disassembly. And this knowledge feeds their energy and enthusiasm.

Forget made beds and tidy rooms, here I’m peeking into a kingdom where my pack of princes reign supreme.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 664)

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Tagged: Parsha