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Parenting from the Parsha- Parshat Tetzave – Making Space for Each Child

Something fascinating takes place during this week’s parsha- something so subtle, that most of us would not notice had the Midrash and Gemara not called our attention to it.

Parshat Tetzave is the only parsha in the Torah, since Moshe is introduced in Parshat Shmot, that does not contain Moshe’s name at all. All the other parshiot in the Torah include some sort of reference to our nation’s leader- either a description of his actions or a quote of his interactions with G-d and/or Bnei Yisrael. Our parsha is the only exception – although Moshe is part of the events taking place in the parsha, his name is not mentioned at all.

Why is this the case? We know that all the details in the Torah are by design-nothing is left to chance. Why, then, does our parsha specifically omit Moshe’s name?

I would like to share a simple, yet very poignant answer that my father, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, shares in his Unlocking the Torah Text Shmot (pg. 243). If we look at the content of Parshat Tetzave, we find that it mainly discusses the creation and fashioning of the Bigdei Kehuna, the clothing that adorned the Kohen Gadol. As such, “Parshat Tetzave is ‘Aharon’s Parsha’, the section of biblical text with introduces the glorious role that Aharon and his descendents will assume across the ages.” Therefore, Moshe deliberately steps out of view in this week’s parsha. Although he is a pivotal part of the proceedings, he allows his brother Aharon to be front and center, in order to share the leadership spotlight.

Moshe’s actions here are particularly astounding if we consider a point made by the Gemara Zevachim 102a. The Gemara quotes Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who maintains that, initially, Moshe was meant to be the Kohen Gadol in addition to all of his other responsibilities. However, due to Moshe’s continued refusal to accept his mission at the burning bush, Hashem withdrew the honor of the Kehuna and gave it to Aharon instead.

We could imagine, then, that when the time comes for Aharon’s anointment as Kohen Gadol, Moshe might feel a pang of regret or jealousy at the opportunity lost. And yet, we see none of that. Moshe, instead, graciously moves aside, and allows Aharon his “moment to shine”.

One of the biggest challenges of parenthood is finding the way to balance the time needed for each and every child. I remember when my wife and I had our first child- and how our new daughter somehow managed to keep us both busy. When our second child was born, we were able to play “man to man”, one parent per child. Once number 3 came, we had to shift strategies, as we were now outnumbered, and needed to find a way to divide our time and attention between all of the children. This challenge only grows as the family grows and as the children get older- and, generally, needier.

What often results in these dynamics is that the louder or more active children receive a lion’s share of their parents’ attention, while  the quieter, calmer children are given much less  consideration. This is not anyone’s “fault” per say- parents are human, with a limited amount of time and emotional energy. They are therefore naturally pulled towards the children that “demand” their attention more, either explicitly or implicitly.

And yet, the message of this weeks parsha is crucial for us to consider . Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest leader of the Jewish people, and rightfully received the attention and publicity that came along with that role. Yet he was acutely aware that his brother Aharon had a tremendous amount to contribute to the Jewish nation as well- and when it was Aharon’s turn to be featured, Moshe made sure to take a step back and allow Aharon to be in the limelight.

As parents, we must make sure that each of our children is given the proper attention and time that they deserve, as well as a time to “shine”. Those children that appear to be “low maintenance”  are no less deserving of our attention- even if they don’t openly  demand it as much. While it is natural that, at times, we may need to focus on one child more than the others, we must be mindful of the need to recalibrate when possible, and not let a unique situation become the default norm out of habit.

It  is, however, not simply a function of quantity of time spent with each child, but much more about the quality and nature of the time that we dedicate to each . Just a couple of suggestions to consider regarding this issue:

  • Every child has talents and interests that are unique to them. It is incredibly important to allow each child to develop those interests and talents, in ways that are enjoyable and meaningful. Doing so will help each child experience their uniqueness and feel appreciated for it. In this way, there will be an arena in which each child is naturally able to “shine” and feel special.
  • Many experts suggest that a parent should make  time each week  to spend one on one time with each child- a time when the child knows that the child has the undivided attention of that parent. Such an experience can be incredibly meaningful, both for child and parent. Even in situations where practically this possibility seems daunting, there are many moments throughout the week when a parent could spend just a few minutes with a child alone- perhaps, most poignantly,  the moments before bedtime. If we parents can ensure that despite our busy schedule, each child is given at least a few minutes of “alone” time at bedtime, those few moments have the potential to be tremendously impactful for the child.

As we noted above, we parents are human- and limited in our time and emotional capacity. It is not necessarily realistic to spend equal amounts of time with each child. Yet if we are thoughtful and strategic, we can ensure that every child is given the time and attention that he or she needs, as we make time for each of our children to have their “time to shine”.

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom!

About the Author
Rav Yossi Goldin is a teacher and administrator who teaches in a number of seminaries and Yeshivot across Israel. He currently lives in Shaalvim with his wife and family. He can be reached at yossigoldin@gmail.com.
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