| Parshah |

Parshas Ki Sisa: Solution Evolution

We praise Hashem for His unique ability to repair everything


“And the nation saw that Moshe was late coming down from the mountain, and the nation gathered against Aharon and said to him, ‘Get up! Make us gods that will go before us….’” (Shemos 32:1)


Amere 40 days after accepting the Torah, Am Yisrael committed the worst sin in our national history: making and worshipping a golden calf. What was the immediate cause of Cheit Ha’eigel? Rashi writes that when Moshe didn’t return at the time they expected, Klal Yisrael erroneously concluded that he’d died, leaving them distraught and confused about who would lead them.
Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Greenwald, a renowned psychologist in Monsey, wrote a book called Eitzos V’Hadrachos containing advice he received from the Steipler. In it, he discusses common mistakes that people make, one of which is the attitude that for every challenge a person confronts, he feels there must be an immediate clear resolution. He’s perturbed not only by the actual problem, but also by his inability to respond.
Such was the case with Klal Yisrael. The proper response, writes Rabbi Greenwald, would’ve been to wait patiently to assess the situation and rationally determine the best course of action. Had they slept on it, the issue would’ve resolved itself when Moshe returned the following day. However, they felt such a burning, pressing need for immediate action that they opted for an ill-fated plan that changed the course of history (Rabbi Ozer Alport, Parsha Potpourri).

Years ago, I took a parenting workshop for young mothers. At the first session, the leader handed out a questionnaire to help us better identify our strengths and weaknesses. One question was: Are you able to solutionize? Me? Solutions? Sure! I love finding solutions!

Cranky two-year-old? Put him to bed early.

Five-year-old doesn’t want to brush her teeth? Sticker chart with shiny stars and an electric toothbrush as a bonus.

Solutions were easy for a creative, out-of-the-box personality like myself. I could patent them and make a business of it: Solutions&Resolutions@faigy.com.

We, too, have a tendency to feel we must immediately solve all our problems. This galvanizes us into making bad choices that compound the original situation and often make it worse.
Rav Yisroel Reisman notes that we often find that the Gemara raises a difficulty with no apparent resolution. Yet the Gemara moves on, as Chazal understood that not every question has an easy answer.
Similarly, when we find ourselves in challenging situations where the correct response is unclear, rather than rashly trade one set of problems for a new set, we should mentally acknowledge the difficulty, but give ourselves time to assess the issue calmly and rationally, rather than feeling compelled to rush and make an immediate decision that we’ll likely regret.

I remember when my five-year-old was petrified of Purim. The problem? All the Haman effigies that people hung out their windows — and in Yerushalayim there were many. The solution? We created our own Haman, scarecrow style, with a sheitel head and the face drawn by that child. The fact that the Haman was now his own creation took away his fear, and Purim became joyous to him again.

So when I got the questionnaire, I checked off that box with gusto. I knew how to solutionize. No problem too big or too small.

In the first blessing of Shemoneh Esreh, we refer to Hashem as “Koneh hakol, Owner of everything.” However, the Vilna Gaon writes that the word koneh is also connected to the word mesaken, to fix. We praise Hashem for His unique ability to repair everything. We must internalize the concept that we may not have a good solution for every difficulty that we face, but rather than make it worse, we should leave it in the capable Hands of the Koneh Hakol.

Time goes on and problems keep coming. The issues facing me now involve teenagers, shidduchim, mothering marrieds, and grandmothering. Everything has become much more complicated than the quick fixes of my earlier years. Are the problems bigger? Or have I realized the depths of their complexity? All I know is that I’m much less confident to jump right in and solve everyone’s problems.

Grandson doesn’t want to go to school? Have you spoken to him? Do you know why? Is he scared?

Yeshivah gedolah choices? Should we ask a sh’eilah?

My answers have become questions, as I try to uncover the layers behind each challenge. The issues swirl around me, confusing me with their many facets and intricacies.

Time and again, I reach for my well-worn Tehillim. This solution remains foolproof.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 883)

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