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Monday, 6 July 2015

Don't be shackled by your past

Daf Yomi Nedarim 42

I was once counseling a middle-aged fellow about his marriage. 
‘The problems in my marriage are really all my parents’ fault,’ he said.
‘Oh, why’s that?’ I asked, ‘Do they mix in and try to exert control?’
‘No, they’ve passed on,’ he replied, ‘but my childhood was terrible – my parents got divorced just before my bar-mitzvah and I was shuttled back and forth between Toronto and Winnipeg.   And now my rotten childhood is impacting the way I deal with my wife and my own children.’

Rav and Shmuel both taught: If one said to his friend before the shemittah (sabbatical) year, ‘These possessions of mine are prohibited to you,’ the friend may neither enter his field, nor may he partake of the overhanging fruit branches once shemittah has arrived.
Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish both taught: If one said to his friend before shemittah, ‘My possessions are prohibited to you,’ he may not enter his field, but he may partake of the overhang once shemittah arrives. 
Let us say that the debate is as follows: According to Rav and Shmuel, a person can prohibit something in his domain even once it has left his domain.  But according to Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish, a person cannot prohibit something from his domain once it has left his domain. 

Many people go through life with ill-feeling towards their parents that they just can’t shake.  They feel scarred by their upbringing, long after they’ve left their parents’ home and guardianship.   They just can’t help blaming all the pitfalls of their life on the after-effects of their poor childhood.

But that’s no way to live your life.  Listen to the sage words of Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish: a person cannot prohibit something from his domain once it has left his domain.  There comes a time when you have to take the reins of life and get over your difficult childhood.  You might have had a challenging time as a child, but now you are in your own domain.  Your parents cannot prohibit you from having a good life once you have left their domain.  Now you alone are in control of your life and destiny!

Take control of your life!  The past cannot change, you are the master of your future.  You have the ability to dictate your destiny and determine the consequences of your actions and choices.  May you merit living life according to your own choices alone and freeing yourself from the shackles of your past!