The Midrash notes that Hashem does not “need” or “benefit” from the light provided from the the Menorah. Rather, Hashem commands us to do the Avodah of the Menorah for our benefit.
Likewise, later in this week’s Midrash, Rabi Abba HaKohen Bar Papa relates that his practice was to avoid passing crowds and groups of people so as not to obligate them to stand up when he walked by and not to bother them. When he related this practice to Rabi Yosi Ben Rabi Zvaida, the latter pointed out that by walking by he is not “bothering” people, rather giving them opportunities to demonstrate and work on their mida of Yira and Kavod (and chaval to take that opportunity away from them).
I can’t recall who off hand, but I remember reading about Gedolim who purposefully asked their children to do small favors and tasks to be zocheh in the Mitzvah of Kibud Av V’eim. Often when we ask kids to do things they are lazy in their response time and when finally get up to do it perform the task halfway or with low enthusiasm, frustrating us. This is usually because we need something from them, and expect them to do it immediately because it’s important to us and, let’s be honest, they owe us for everything we do for them and what we’re asking is small in comparison. However, this degrades the relationship into “score keeping”. We don’t sacrifice for our kids at the time because we expect one day we’ll be paid in return, and accidentally giving off that impression can cheapen our love in their eyes. What if instead when we ask for a something, we do it in the same way that Aharon was invited to light the Menorah, as an opportunity, greater than all the other Nesiim’s Korbanos. Honestly, this starts with us modeling that behavior: doing things for our parents, grandparents, elders, Rebbeim etc. with a positive attitude and exuding how lucky we feel to have the opportunity to do something for someone else. This applies to chessed and tzedakah too. Obviously anything we do with half a heart or begrudgingly will be copied by our children. I once heard from R’ Jacubowitz that in his home they fight over the opportunity to do “Hagbah/Gelila”, changing a baby’s diaper. In his home, the same kavod we give in shul (and people even pay for) is compared to the dirtiest part of caring for a child. Yet that attitude is what teaches everyone in the home that a Jewish child is special, and doing things for each other bring a person as much, maybe more, respect than receiving kibbudim in shul. Next time we’re frustrated with our kids attitude, lets take on ourselves to demonstrate more in the future our excitement in getting the opportunity to serve and care for others and to give respect and honor to our elders.
Shabbat Shalom, Have a great Shabbos,
Rabbi Ari Deutscher MSW