• Leann Shamash

The Long Car Ride: Parshat Eikev

#parsha #parshateikev #dvartorah #thelongcarride #goingtocollege #parentsandworries #parentsandchildren #parentsalwaysworry #enteringthepromisedland #warnings #moses #moseswarns #allthoseteachings #teachyourchildren #goingtocollege #thejewishpeople #moses #deuteronomy


Going backward in time a little, here is last week's Dvar Torah on Parshat Eikev. Here's a quick review of the Parsha from ReformJudaism.org

  • Moses tells the Israelites that if they follow God's laws, the nations who now dwell across the Jordan River will not harm them. (7:12–26)

  • Moses reminds the people of the virtues of keeping God's commandments. He also tells them that they will dispossess those who now live in the Land only because they are idolatrous, not because the Israelites are uncommonly virtuous. Thereupon, Moses reviews all of the trespasses of the Israelites against God. (8:1–10:11)

  • Moses says that the Land of Israel will overflow with milk and honey if the people obey God's commandments and teach them to their children. (10:12–11:25)


Parshat Eikev, is a parsha that is filled from top to bottom with lots of history and warnings and reviews of past events. This parsha reminds me of a parent speaking to her children before the child goes away to college. I envision the parent sitting with their child in the car on their drive to a university, let’s say far from home. This is the parent’s last opportunity to review parental teachings with their beloved and sometimes obstinate or rebellious child before the child is dropped off at her dorms and she begins life on her own.


Think about that car ride? The windows of the car are closed, there is no escape. The child eager to leave home to learn and experiment in all the things that college has to offer and the parent is terrified to lose control. The parent has been practicing this speech in her mind for weeks, no years..... All of the fears that the parent harbors begin to emerge and once they emerge, the soliloquy can go on for hours. "Do you remember when you did this and what happened? Well, learn from this and never do it! Don’t forget to brush your teeth, make sure to choose the right friends, don't experiment with A, B and C because if you do then surely terrible things are going to happen to you!!!"


The list isn’t pretty and the consequences are even worse. The parent has a lifetime of worries and warnings bubbling inside and this is it, her final chance! She knows that when she has dropped off her child and the child enters into that dorm room and leaves her parents behind, her child will never be the same child again. The good old days will be over and she will be forever changed. And with those fears in mind the parent doesn’t choose one lesson to impart; instead the list is endless, for indeed parents who love their children more than life, but harbor their own insecurities about their children, can no longer see that offering one or two examples of how the child should live as she exits their home, but instead go on and on, touching upon fear after fear, lesson after lesson as they make this final drive from what has been their home to this new home, this place that has been promised and waited for and indeed the parents have sacrificed for. (parents go on and on...you get my drift...sort of like this last sentence!)


So many warnings, so many fears! "Have we raised our children right? Can we trust that they will remember the rules of living that we have taught them over the years? Will they be ok?" The words keep coming because the fear of a parent letting their child out into the world is also bottomless.


What about the budding adult sitting in the car? Still with an adolescent brain, hoping to start school and to find freedom and to learn and to live and live well and experience life; How does she hear this speech that keeps coming? If her earbuds are out of her ears, the words wash over her like water. One warning flows into another and the budding college student sits in a haze of words swirling around her like a swirling river.


When does the child stop listening? Does she listen? Does she heed her parent’s heart felt warnings? It’s hard to know just how much child will hear and process because there are so many warnings, so many words, so many "I told you so's" and warnings that the words blend together like a long scary song that she hears, but does she?

Soon this long car ride will come to a close and the frightened parent will soon be forced to take the bravest action of her parenting. Eventually she will help her child unpack. She will make her child's bed one last time and realize that it is time to leave. Reluctantly she will close the door of the dorm room and leave her child to live her life, hopefully well equipped with life lessons to choose “the way”, the “right way”. It is the parent’s job to worry and to teach and yes, to warn and exhort and thunder and cajole and offer rewards, but then it is time to let go. It's time to watch and wait and worry and see how these lessons, Your lessons, have been assimilated and whether this child will go on and prosper. The jury is out, the next chapters are yet to be written.


PS I've given my subject a female pronoun. I've also referred to the parent as a she, because maybe, just maybe it reflects my thoughts. Rest assured that dad is in that car as well!






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