Musings While Shoveling 20-odd Inches of Snow

The WORD – 12/29/10. When it becomes clear that the meteorologists might actually be right and a huge winter storm is heading in our direction, we immediately start thinking about whether we have enough gas for the snow-blower (I didn’t!) and salt for the driveway.  We start checking to see whether we have enough food in the refrigerator to get through a couple of days.  We make sure that we have wood for the fireplace in case the furnace goes.  In short, we want to ensure that our families will be safe.

On the other hand, our kids tend to think about snowmen, snow forts, sledding, skiing and – of course – hot cocoa.  And if the storm happens to come when school is in session, then all kids respond with two words:  “Snow Day!”  In other words, they see the fun in a storm and not the potential danger.

As I was shoveling snow from my driveway on Monday, I remembered a similar big snow storm from my days in Pittsburgh.  Our house in Pittsburgh had a short – but very steep driveway.  The day after the storm, I was walking up my snow-covered driveway with a young Jonah in my arms when I fell and slid several feet down the driveway.  Jonah giggled because it was a fun ride and probably wanted to do it again.  I, on the other hand, still remember it nine years later.

Why does this memory stick with me?  I think that in that one moment I realized how fragile and dependent an eighteen-month old child can be.  After all, it probably never occurred to him that he could fall and get hurt while in his father’s arms.  My arms — and his mother’s arms — represented the safety that he had come to know in his short life.

Clearly, this whole concept went over Jonah’s head.  However, I gained some new insight into my responsibility as a parent to provide a safe and loving environment for my children. It’s why adults worry about the snow-blower and salt while the kids get excited about snowmen and hot cocoa.  Sure, we like having a good time too, but we know that someone has to be looking at the big picture.

This was reinforced for me as I looked at this week’s Torah portion. When Moses came to the Israelites to tell them that God was going to free them, they did not believe him.  The Torah tells us that “they would not listen to Moses, their spirits crushed by cruel bondage (Exodus 6:9).”  In other words, they were not accustomed to arms protecting them from the dangers of life.  When faced with a new situation, they did not see the potential for fun and excitement.  They only saw the potential for cruelty and harm.

When we take care of the details in life that allow young people to grow up safe and secure – whether in a snow storm or any other situation – it has an impact on their view of the world for the rest of their lives.

Happy New Year!

RAF.

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About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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