Leap of faith: keeping it real in the summer holidays

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Leap of faith: keeping it real in the summer holidays

“The Eternal One would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (Exodus 33:11)

While the summer holidays are a time that we can make treasured memories, they also bring a lot of stress for parents. As I know full well, with three of my own, trying to give your children that ‘perfect summer’ can bring a lot of undue pressure – especially when trying to juggle it with working, running the house and everything else.

The first thing to say to anyone looking for inspiration is please don’t turn to our patriarchs and matriarchs for parenting advice. One of the first things we see in our Torah is Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac… and it doesn’t get much better from there. Isaac and Rebecca set their kids against each other, taking one side each, while Jacob’s poor parenting skills include favouring one son, Joseph, so much that his 11 siblings try to murder him.

I think it is better to look to God as the parental role model. Just like we must all do in life, in the Torah we see a God that adapts as needs change. At the start, in the Garden of Eden, God is very instructive – telling Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit and expelling them when they do. But through the Torah, God learns to be more patient, to be where the people are at and to support them.

By the time Moses is leading the Jewish people in the wilderness, we see a much more forgiving and understanding God, giving Moses help to deal with an increasingly grumpy people stranded in the unrelenting heat.

As we, too, struggle in the heat, I think of what Moses asks from God – to be panim el panim (face to face). What Moses wants most from God is face time, and that is true of what our children want of us. We can spend lots of time and money creating amazing experiences or going on incredible holidays – but the most important thing is to be present and in the moment. Something we learned during the pandemic was how precious that face time with our children is, and this summer gives us a chance to recapture that. What we can learn from our Torah is that the next six weeks is not about spending a fortune or creating the most magical holidays ever, but simply making time to be panim el panim.


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