Rebecca Masinter

Re'eh - Be the Change!

There is a prohibition in Parshas Re’eh forbidding Jews from eating blood followed by a fascinating phrase.: לֹ֖א תֹּאכְלֶ֑נּוּ עַל־הָאָ֥רֶץ תִּשְׁפְּכֶ֖נּוּ כַּמָּֽיִם׃…לֹ֖א תֹּאכְלֶ֑נּוּ לְמַ֨עַן יִיטַ֤ב לְךָ֙ וּלְבָנֶ֣יךָ אַחֲרֶ֔יךָ “ You should not eat it; you shall pour it on the ground like water. Don’t eat it, in order that it will be good for you and your children after you when you do what is right in the eyes of Hashem.” What is the connection between not eating blood and it being good for our children? The Kli Yakar's answer gives parents the simplest yet most powerful tool to raise our children. It turns out that ingesting blood engenders cruelty in a person, which is reason to abstain for ourselves. What about our children? וטבע האב נמשך גם לבנים The Kli Yakar reminds us that the nature of a parent passes down to their children. If we refrain from eating blood or doing other things that negatively impact our nature, it will also be good for our children. What we do impacts ourselves, our nature and character, and it also impacts our children. Similarly, each positive action we take isn’t just our’s, it impacts generations. While this is an inspirational thought on its own, there is an element of practicality here that is useful to all parents. There are times our children go through stages where we are very limited in how much we can directly change them or influence them to make wise decisions. There are times we have to step back and let situations evolve as we wish they wouldn't. One thing we can always do though is work on ourselves, and know with certainty that self-development has a powerful effect on our children. Even when we feel powerless to influence our children, we can always impact and change them by changing ourselves. One of my favorite stories about Henny Machlis is once she had a teenager who routinely slept late and missed davening. Henny didn’t go in and wake him up again and again. Rather, she got up early and started davening by herself promptly in the mornings . By changing herself she was also impacting change in her children. The Torah is reminding us of this important principle right here in Re’eh. Don’t eat blood, it leads to negative character traits, but by refraining from blood, you’re not only causing good for you, but also for your children. This is truly a powerful message for mothers.