Birth – The Mission Begins

Birth – The Mission Begins

 

Wisdom

Birth Means You Matter

As we forge ahead in our busy lives and grow older and further away from the moment of our own birth, few of us pause to appreciate just how miraculous that moment was.

In order to fully understand ourselves and live a meaningful life, we must return to the very beginning and look at the significance of our birth.

What your birth means is that you are G-d’s chosen one.

Your birth was not an accident; G-d chooses each of us to fulfill a specific mission in this world, just as a composer arranges each musical note precisely.

Each person matters; each person is irreplaceable.

Your life is always leading you towards your destiny, and every single moment is meaningful and precious.

Wisdom

You are G-d’s Investment

Many people seem to feel that because we didn’t choose to enter the world, our birth is a stroke of coincidence or serendipity.

Birth is G-d’s way of saying that He has invested His will and energy in creating you; G-d feels great joy when you are born, the greatest pleasure imaginable, which encompasses the potential for all your future achievements.

Practice and Theory

Attuning Oneself To Our Purpose Creates the Feeling of being Alive

At birth, the soul enters the body, creating a life that sustains itself; an autonomous human being.

A fetus, of course, is a living organism complete with a functioning brain, heart, and limbs. But it is only an extension, albeit a living one, of it mother’s being.

The moment of birth marks the beginning of our mission on earth, which is to transform our material world into a vehicle for spiritual expression and G-dliness.

Life is much more than simple biology. It is about growth, development, and fulfilling our potential.

A person is not fully alive unless he or she is attuned to his or her soul’s higher purpose, unless he or she realizes his or her mission.

Wisdom

Contemplating life’s Purpose

Many of us sense a spiritual side to our lives.

Because we are so busy with our daily lives and so hungry for instant gratification, we forget – or never take the time to learn – why we are here in the first place.

Practice and Theory

True Life

Each of us has a choice: We can merely be biologically alive or we can be truly alive, spiritually alive!

Even as adults we can live the way a fetus does – eating drinking and sleeping, a complete person missing its most vital element – its soul.

Or we can take advantage of our capacity to be spiritually sensitive, and participate in the world.

Wisdom

The Blessing of Birth

There is no greater blessing than the capacity to give birth, for it is the one opportunity we have to truly create, and to create something from our own flesh and blood.

Birth is an utterly mysterious act, the physical creation of something out of nothing.

No matter how technologically advanced we become, the smartest men and women among us will never be able to replicate the mystery of birth.

Because a new child will one day have the power to have children of his own, birth also gives us access to infinity, to eternity.

Practice and Theory

Birthing is Creating

Bearing children, therefore, is our one opportunity to act in a truly G-dlike way, as a true Creator.

Practice

The Awe of Creating

The next time you see a newborn baby, observe their parents. They cannot help but feel immeasurably moved, experiencing a feeling of deep love, a sense of wonder that they were able to create something so awe-inspiring.

Practice and Theory

The Knowledge From Birth

A new parent instantly realizes that life is about much more than our narrow world of vanity.

Suddenly the things that give us such pride – the money we have amassed, the business we have built – all pale in comparison to this simple astounding accomplishment.

Practice and Theory

Realigning our priorities

We don’t create the time to appreciate the constant miracles of life – of which birth is the first.

Whenever a friend or family member has a baby, therefore, we should recognize the birth as an opportunity to think about our priorities and to appreciate the power of the eternal.

We must exercise our responsibility to bring life into this world and to live fulfilled lives.

Practice and Theory

Appreciating the value of Birth

We need to properly appreciate the ability to create life.

Birth is a gift from G-d.

When you have been given this greatest of gifts, the ability to create life, you must not suppress it; just look at all those people who would do anything to have a child.

Suppressing the ability to bear children can also have a negative psychological impact, for human health is dependent on using all our faculties, all our innate emotional and spiritual gifts, especially the power to create life.

Birthdays

 

Practice and Theory

Recalling Your Foundation

If we are to appreciate the fruits of life, we must first appreciate the tree that bears the fruit: birth itself.

Birth is your beginning. It is a window to the chance of a lifetime; the chance to fulfill your unique mission.

So a birthday is a momentous occasion, to be commemorated just as a nation commemorates its birth or as an organization celebrates its founding.

A birthday is a chance to remember the day that a major event occurred, to celebrate and give thanks and to reflect upon how well we are fulfilling our calling.

Practice and Theory

The renewed capacity for your successful spiritual mission in life

Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on our birthday each year: The same energy that G-d invested in you at birth is present once again. It is our duty to be receptive to that spiritual energy.

By committing to a life guided by G-d’s will and by using the abilities and resources we were born with to perfect ourselves and society, and to make the world a good and special home for G-d, we become receptive to the this force.

Practice and Theory

  • A birthday is a time to celebrate birth itself, the joy of life.
  • A birthday is also an occasion to rethink your life: How great is the disparity between what I have accomplished and what I can accomplish?
  • On your birthday think about: Am I spending my time properly or am I involved in things that distract me from my higher calling?
  • How can I strengthen the thread that connects my outer (body) and inner (soul) life?
  • A birthday can also teach us the concept of rebirth.
  • To recall our birthday is to recall a new beginning.
  • No matter how things went yesterday, or last year, we always have the capacity to try again.
  • Your birthday is a refresher, a chance for regeneration – not just materially but also spiritually.
  • On your birthday, gather with family and friends and study something meaningful together.
  • There is no better way to celebrate a birthday than to commit to a new special act of goodness.
  • It is easy enough to say you are grateful; it is far better to show it. You show your Creator you are grateful by helping out someone else.

 

Practice and Theory

On your birthday do something kind, something that you did not do yesterday.

Do it, not because someone suggests it; But simply because your inner goodness, your soul wants to express its thanks for being born and alive.

Wisdom

Such an act of kindness gives G-d great pleasure, because He sees that the child in whom He invested, the particular child he wanted to be born on a particular day, is living up to its potential.

Of course nothing gives a parent greater joy than to see one of His children helping another.

This is the true experience of birth, the true beginning of a life of meaning.

 

Childhood – The Dawn of Life

Practice and Theory

As white as snow!

A child is the most precious gift G-d has given us – a new life, as unmarked as fresh snow, whose parents have been blessed with the opportunity to nurture, protect and teach so that the child becomes a productive and good human being.

Every quality of a child is there for a reason, and must be cultivated.

Every child carries great resources, the potential for the entire future.

How you raise this child will not only influence the child’s life, but his or her children’s lives and their children’s lives ad infinitum.

Practice and Theory

Children – The Greatest Pleasure

In our society we may see childhood as a transitory stage, and children merely as adults in the making.

People sometimes look at childhood and education as a pure investment – some statisticians have even calculated the age at which a person becomes worth more than the amount that was spent on his childhood, care and education.

How we see children very much reflects on how we see ourselves.

If we are overly concerned with our material comforts then a child may seem like a nuisance, interrupting the world we have carefully constructed for our own gratification.

But if we are in touch with the sublime in our lives or at least seek it out, a child’s curiosity and vivacity will enchant us to no end and be a source of the greatest pleasure.

Practice and Theory

 More than we can teach our children we can learn from them

It is extremely important to understand children for what they are, not for who we see them as.

Whereas an adult is shaped by man and society, the child is shaped by G-d.

Because of their innocence, their curiosity, and their purity, children stand closer to G-d than an adult.

And so the great secret to childhood is not that our children have much to learn from us, but that we have much to learn from them.

Wisdom

The necessity of the innocence and truthfulness of the childhood years

Have you ever wondered if it might not be easier if we were all created as mature adults instead of as children, fully functional and able to provide for ourselves?

But there is a beautiful lesson in childhood itself – above all, that a child is genuine and innocent, and that such innocence is the foundation of life.

If we were born as adults already prepared for the struggles of life, we would never experience the magic of childhood, the freedom to explore life with your wide open eyes, indiscriminately, unselectively.

Childhood gives us that chance to soar through the sublime before we trudge through the mundane.

Wisdom

Children’s Trust

What do we think when we see a child’s hand reach for her mothers’ and follow her wherever she goes?

We surely don’t need anyone leading us by the hand.

But the child’s receptivity and vulnerability, his simple faith comes from a very deep pure place – from the very essence of the soul, which is receptive to that which is beyond itself.

Wisdom

The Benefit of a Child’s Imaginative Mind

As adults we like to think that we are in control. After all we have spent years developing our ideas and sharpening our minds.

But which is truly more fundamental: an adult’s intellect or a child’s innocence and faith?

Whereas an adult has narrowed his hopes and expectations, a child dreams and wonders.

The same goes for education: a child’s mind is not clouded by the self interest of the adult, concerned only with how he will benefit from a certain idea.

Wisdom

The Magic of Wonder

While educating children, it is vital to cultivate this spirit, this faith, this genuine curiosity.

Otherwise much of the information we impart will be misdirected; instead of allowing a child to experience a sense of awe at G-d and His world, we push him or her to analyze and categorize everything.

Think of a child’s first trip to the Grand Canyon.

Which is more significant: to drink in the sight with awe and think about what it all means, or to boil it down to a pile of data and statistics?

Wisdom

Children are naturally Spiritual

We must be especially attentive to cultivating the G-dliness in children, the awe that comes through spirituality.

Children have a glorious gift for realizing that the here and now, the visible world, is not always what is most important.

Allow a child’s imagination to wander, for it recognizes that we are all part of something greater than ourselves.

Children innately have a deep thirst for the ethereal and the natural sense of wonder and faith that is so receptive to spiritual matters.

Wisdom

Balancing the immaturity and the positive imagination of a child

Still we must remember that a child is vulnerable and impressionable who has been put in our care, entrusted to us for his or her well-being.

We must take into account the two opposing elements of a child’s nature: the curiosity and openness to learn versus a spirit of frivolity; and strive for a balance.

A parent or educator who is too concerned with discipline might rob the child’s free spirit; on the other hand we cannot be so lenient as to let a child wander without direction.

Practice

The most important ingredient in education is truthfulness

The main ingredient in shaping good behavior is truth; these truths, especially about G-d, and about right and wrong, should never be arbitrary.

A child is naturally sincere, and compromising the truth is anathema to sincerity.

A parent’s tentativeness or ambivalence toward the truth will come back to haunt the child; it is vital that a child learn clarity and conviction, which are the roots of every decision a healthy adult will make.

Practice and Theory

How To Treat a Child

Once you fully accept and understand that a child is a gift from G-d, the question of how to treat him or her becomes quite simple.

The child does not belong to you; he or she belongs to G-d!

And G-d entrusted you with the child, coupled with a commandment to protect and nurture.

Children do not need to be taught fear; they have natural fear.

So for example, before punishing a child we must take great care to think: Am I doing this in the best interest of the child, or because he or she made me angry? There is no place for ego in raising a child.

Practice and Theory

A child should never be made to feel fear

A child must be given the right to live his or her childhood free from fear.

Practice and Theory

Encourage good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior

It is always better to encourage good behavior than to have to punish bad behavior.

 

Even when discipline is necessary, it must be carried out with the utmost sensitivity and love – remember, if you hurt a child you are hurting G-d.

Practice and Theory

Intimidating children is evil

The intimidating of children that masquerades as discipline is an affront to G-d who has asked us to care for these precious souls with sensitivity.

Wisdom

Children should be taught to respect their parents because this is God’s wish

A child should be taught to honor his parents not because they are authority figures, with controlling power over their children, but because it was they whom G-d chose to bring the child into the world.

Wisdom

Learn from a child’s amazement

Beyond innocence there are many other things about children that we would do well to study and learn from.

Consider a child’s pure sense of amazement when he or she discovers something new.

The child may not have the sensory tools to fully comprehend this new experience, but do not be deceived: a child absorbs the experience far more deeply than an adult might.

Wisdom

A child’s mind must be treated with sensitivity and respect

 

Why is it that we can hardly remember what we read yesterday yet we can remember what we learned in nursery school?

A child’s mind is extremely fertile, and must be treated with sensitivity and respect.

Practice and Theory

A child’s focus

 

A child is also very single minded, when a child is in the moment he or she is completely immersed in the moment.

An adult will often anticipate and personalize, thinking, where is this conversation heading? What does it mean for me?

A child can teach us to truly focus, to fully absorb the moment as it exists.

Wisdom

Using a child’s egocentricity for the good

Since it seems to a child that his parents and the rest of the universe exist merely to cater to his needs, a child can easily begin to think that he or she is the main focus of life.

The adverse effects of such an attitude are self-evident; indeed, in addition to enhancing our inherent positive qualities, weeding out the negative parts of our base behavior is a main focus of education.

But the child’s egocentric instinct also has a positive side; he is utterly convinced that his existence has meaning and that his deeds have a consequence.

This is one part of childhood that we especially need to cultivate – the conviction that every one of our thoughts and deeds is of real, even global, significance.

Maimonides wrote that a person “Should see the entire world as half good and half evil, so that with a single good deed, he will tip the scales for himself, and for the entire world to the side of merit.”

Wisdom

A Child’s Openness

It is easy to dismiss the simplicity of a child as a mere lack of knowledge.

But such simplicity contains a certain power, an integrity and sincerity that may begin to erode as we rush to acquire wisdom and sophistication.

We may get frustrated when a child cannot keep still, but this activity is a sign of healthy vitality; the external movement is reflective of the internal movement. It expresses a certain restlessness and spiritual angst.

Consider how a child will look at one simple object and ask more questions than we could have ever imagined: Why is it that way? How did it get like that? What is it for?

This questioning, this movement that assumes the form of curiosity, should never be discouraged.

Childhood is the one period in life when a person is free from the concerns of survival; it is the one opportunity to be totally dedicated to learning the value system through which all of life’s experiences will be filtered.

Practice and Theory

Teaching more rather than less

We should never worry about taxing the mind of a child.

We need to be realistic about how much a child can retain, but it is better to be taught more and retain less than to let a part of the mind remain unused.

And, since we haven’t yet discovered the true capacity of a child’s mind to absorb information, a child should embark on a rigorous schedule of study.

Practice

Morality

The first thing a child must be taught, of course, is the foundation of life – the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong.

This gives direction to all his other studies and life choices.

Practice and Theory

Cocooning Meditation

As adults, we should try to re-create the cocoonlike state of childhood.

Take ten minutes out of your day and go back to the state of mind of a child, when you had no material worries, when your only concern was learning how to conduct your life in a productive, meaningful way.

See how refreshing it is to substitute prayer, study, and good deeds for bill-paying, shopping, and running your business.

Practice and Theory

Learning form our children

A child, through his innocence and curiosity has many of the traits that we most crave.

We have been so buffeted by life and so conditioned to think only of ourselves that we lost touch with these beautiful traits.

As is written, “The hearts of the parents will return through their children.”

Once parents have resigned themselves to a certain way of life, they sometimes can’t even consider the possibility of change.

But, because they will do anything for their children in the course of teaching them to lead a meaningful life, parents do indeed stand a chance of changing.

So childhood is not just for the child; it also allows parents to tap the purest part of themselves: their souls.

Especially in our turbulent generation, it is often the children who end up teaching the most profound values to their parents.

Practice and Theory

Teaching and learning from and to children

When you next spend time with your child – or any child – do not be causal about the experience.

Look at the child intently and realize: G-d has given you this gift to nurture and care for; to teach good habits and the difference between right and wrong.

Your attitude toward this child and the sensibilities that you will impart to him will be crucial to how his life develops and how he influences others.

Now how much time can you possibly devote to this enormous responsibility?

And most important of all: Allow your child to be himself and to teach you how to live a more meaningful life.

 

Practice and Theory

Your child should represent the values of your home

When someone sees your child they should immediately be able to see, that this child is the son or daughter of a religious home.

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