| Parshah |

Mighty Mommy

One who controls his yetzer hara reaches that same level of mesirus nefesh as the shemittah observers

“When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land should rest a Shabbos for Hashem.”

(Vayikra 25:2)


The Midrash says that the pasuk in Tehillim, “Bless Hashem, His angels, those mighty in strength…” (103:20) refers to those who observe shemittah, as it says in Avos (4:1): “Who is strong? One who controls his yetzer.”
Why are specifically those who keep shemittah referred to as giborei koach — mighty in strength? Surely there are other mitzvos that require physical strength and spiritual stamina (Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Dorash Dovid).

It was the perfect spring day with blue skies and a gentle breeze. Despite all I needed to get done, I decided there was no way we could stay inside on a day like this. Feeling proud of my spontaneity, I piled the younger kids and a couple of grandchildren into the car, and headed to the beach in Ashdod.

We identify gevurah with koach, power, whether physical or spiritual. However, the Midrash shows that gevurah is actually a more potent power — that of being moser one’s nefesh, utilizing one’s entire being when facing challenge. Thus, the farmer’s gevurah is that of inner strength, the ability to accept an uncertain future for the sake of Hashem.
If one relies only on his strength, he’ll only fight if he’s convinced he’ll prevail. Yet one who’s willing to be moser nefesh, and fight even when he’s uncertain about victory, can muster energy far beyond his limited powers.
Such gevurah isn’t a given. It’s like the gevurah of the angels, who dedicate their entire existence to Hashem’s honor.

Mothering rule #1: Never expect your Best-Mommy-Award ideas to be reciprocated in your children’s behavior. Within ten minutes of the hour-long ride, I was regretting my impulsive attempt at fun mothering.

Shloimie was whining nonstop from the back seat, complaining that: his mosquito bite was infected, and he’d probably end up in the hospital; he was choking ’cuz his nephew wanted the window closed so he’d probably end up in the hospital; and if I didn’t buy him a drink soon, he’d probably dehydrate and end up in the hospital. Personally, the thought of spending time in the hospital was sounding more fun than the atmosphere in my car.

I gritted my teeth, trying to ignore him, but my frustration was rising fast. Couldn’t we just have fun around here?

One who controls his yetzer hara reaches that same level of mesirus nefesh as the shemittah observers. Here, too, victory is uncertain and the battles will always continue — two factors that drain one’s fortitude. Therefore, the Midrash cites the mishnah that one who fights the yetzer hara is a true gibor.

Five minutes later, I gave up. There was a small gas station off the road, so I pulled in, hoping a break would start us off again on the right note. Besides, we needed gas.

As we walked into the dinky room, I saw three big, burly truck drivers ahead of me. I eyed them cautiously as I took my place at the end of the line, keeping an eye on the kids, who were fascinated by a cloudy fish tank in the back corner. This had to be better than back seat bickering, no?

Then the first guy in line ordered a hot dog. The driver right in front of me started to mutter, “Do you think I have all day? I need to get gas, and you want to order a four-course meal?”

“What’s it your business?” The man in the middle turned around to make it his business. “He can order whatever he wants. Just like I will when my turn comes!”

“You better not get in my way if you know what’s good for you,” growled Third Guy.

I started backing away uncomfortably, trying to round up my kids. I wasn’t staying around to watch a brawl between some immature giants who had never graduated kindergarten.

“You be quiet!” Number Two snarled — only those weren’t the words he used. Shloimie’s eyes grew round. We didn’t use such words at home. I corralled the kids, and beat a hasty escape, sans gas.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, I shifted gears in my head as well. Kids may get cranky, but I was old enough and mature enough to behave myself.

I exhaled slowly, then swung into a loud off-key rendition of “99 bags of Bamba to share….”

Even Shloimie joined in.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 842)

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