Before I had my daughter, I worked at a synagogue. I was a full-time religious school teacher and immersed myself in the life of the community. A few times a year, we would have a communal Shabbat dinner for all of the families. After the kiddush and before we ate challah, I would lead the families in the traditional blessing over their children. I liked to share a little parable with them. I wanted to share that same story with you.
Rabbi Zusya, a great Hasidic master of the late 18th century, used to say, “When I die and meet God, God will not fault me for not being Moses. God will not ask me: ‘Why weren’t you Moses?’ but God will ask me, ‘Why weren’t you Zusya?'”
In parenting, our goal is not to turn our child into Moses. We don’t want to force our children to become the best readers, the fastest runners, the smartest scientists, the strongest pianists–or our vision of who our kids ought to be (though the Tiger Mom wouldn’t agree). But rather, our goal is to help our children live up to their individual potentials as human beings. It is our task to listen to their needs, help them develop their interests, and do what we can so that when they are asked, they can state with certainty: “I was me.”
So when a friend shared with me these words for blessing my daughter, I adopted them as my own. They’re written by Marcia Falk, a modern-day liturgist (prayer-writer): Heyeyh asher tihyeh. Veheyeh baruch ba’asher tihyeh. Now I wish for each of you this same blessing: Be who you are, and may you be blessed in all that you are.
(And click here for the traditional blessings for your child on Shabbat).