Parenting Lessons from the Holy One — A poem for Parsha Eikev (Aliyah 3)

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Do not say to yourself . . . "Because of my righteousness, God has brought me to possess this land . . .

Deuteronomy 9:4

We brought our kid to Jewish camp two weeks ago.
We armed him with all the socks he could need, face masks
in his preferred color, and every essential one could
need in the wilderness.

All we asked was that he write us postcards
even just one, so we had a sense that he was alive.
We wrote him by the system provided every single day,
but our trips to the mailbox proved fruitless.

We made it so easy…the postcards already stamped
and with our address on them. They were tiny too,
barely space to write three words
He could have written I am alive.

Even send back a blank postcard and he could
tell us later he thought we were psychic.
I would have found that hilarious! But now,
less than a week before we pick him up

and we don’t even know if he’ll still be there.
We’ll dutifully show up. We’ll pile his dirt
into our trunk. We’ll take him to brunch.
We’ll take him to goddammed Hawaii.

We won’t do these things to reward righteous behavior
but because this is what he has been promised.
This is our obligation as parents. We would bring him
to the wilderness, and then carry him

back across the river to his promised land.
This is how the Israelites got across their river
despite decades of complaining and a golden calf,
despite rebellions and broken tablets.

The Parent of all parents would not leave
His children in the desert.
and neither will we.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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