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Thursday, 10 September 2015

The cost of raising a child

Daf Yomi Nazir 19

According to Moneysense, it costs on average close to $250,000 to raise a child.  Between food, clothing and everything else, parents invest a fortune in their children.  And that’s not even counting Jewish day-school tuition!

But any parent will tell you that there’s no better investment.  Apart from the spiritual reward you receive for partnering with G-d in creation, the reward of nachas in this world is unparalleled!

Queen Helena’s son once went out to war and she declared, “If my son returns in peace from the battlefield, I pledge to be a nazir for seven years.  Sure enough, her son returned from the battle and she became a nazir for the next seven years.  At the conclusion of the seven years, she made aliya and Beis Hillel – who maintains that nazirism observed outside of Israel does not count – instructed her to adopt a further seven years of nazirism.  At the end of those seven years, she came into contact with impurity, thus requiring her to start all over again.  Consequently, she was a nazir for a total of twenty-one years.

What wouldn’t you do for your kids?  Any parent will tell you that the investment it takes to raise a child is so much greater than the financial.  The emotional, psychological, mental and physical outlay is absolutely astounding.

But of course, we believe that there’s more to life than meets the eye.  The most important ingredient for success in this world is the Divine blessing.  All our efforts merely provide the vessel for G-d’s blessing.  “My power and the strength of my hand” do not engender prosperity; Heaven’s blessing is the key to success.

Queen Helena understood this secret of success and was willing to sacrifice her personal comfort for the sake of her son’s safety and security.  What wouldn’t you give to guarantee that your child traversed the battlefield of life peacefully?  Helena – a queen who had access to all her heart’s desires – was willing to abstain from certain worldly pleasures and conveniences for twenty-one years for her child!

 What are you doing to draw down G-d’s blessing into your family?  What sacrifices are you making to open the storehouse of Heaven for your children and yourself?  

Sometimes you make all the spiritual effort, only to wonder whether your efforts were in vain.  Don’t quit!  That’s what happened to Queen Helena.  After seven years, she finally felt relieved at having kept her promise to Heaven, only to be told by Beis Hillel that she had to start all over again. 

Imagine your rabbi told you that for the last seven years you were doing something ritually wrong and that all your hard work was for naught.  How would you respond?  Maybe you’re told that the kitchen you thought was kosher was not quite right.  Or the tefillin you were putting on each day were invalid.  Would you throw your hands in the air and say, ‘Forget it!’  or would you persevere? 

Now, it goes without saying that the Almighty rewards your efforts if your heart was in the right place, even if you didn’t quite achieve what you set out to accomplish.  But it can feel really defeating to find out you’ve been doing things wrong all along.   Queen Helena would not give up – she was willing to start all over again and do another seven years of nazirism!  And then when G-d threw her a curveball by placing her in the vicinity of impurity, she still didn’t give up!

Success emanates from the One Above. Whether it’s your children’s success or your own, make sure you’re connected to your Heavenly source to draw down the blessing.  May you merit unbounded prosperity and success in every area of your life and never giving up even when things don’t go quite as you planned!  

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