Parsha Eikev 7:13

Devarim 7:12 - 11:25

What Does G-d Ask Of Me? ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

Does it matter? Is it important to me? Am I up for what G-d wants? Can I fulfill G-d's desires? Do I want to fulfill G-d's desires? Questions like this flood my mind especially when I hear the rabbium offer their thoughts on what G-d wants. This is not one of those discussions... Before we go any further...

G-d wants me to take a step closer...

Stop focusing on the vast universe of problems in your life. Choose one area in which you can definitely move one step closer to G-d and do it! Do it by Rosh HaShanah. As of this parsha, that is about six weeks away...

The Path To Recovery
(The names in this story were changed.)
There was a Yid who got into trouble with the law. His name was Saul. He and his wife were unfortunately caught up in a domestic dispute. A neighbor called the authorities. That resulted in the arrest of Saul and his wife Rivkah. And their eight children were placed in non Jewish foster care for a period of time while things were being worked out. Saul had a very difficult time with his temper. Occasionally it would get out of hand. Rivkah would encourage Saul's problem by belittling him and egging him on. On several occasions Saul struck his wife and she threw objects at him, mainly dishes, cups, saucers and pans. These series of problems began after their third child was born. It grew worse until this horrible day that the authorities were called.

When the authorities arrived, they found the three bedroom apartment in shambles. Broken glass all over the living room, coffee table turned over with a broken leg and several broken chairs, among other things. The younger children were hiding in fear and crying. Both Saul and Rivkah were injured. They were taken individually to the hospital then transported to jail.

Saul related this story to me because he wanted to help other people understand when a relationship needs professional help. He was sitting in his isolated jail cell crying, hurting, embarrassed, angry - yes, angry - at himself for what had happened to his children, his wife and himself. He wondered, "How did this start? How did it get this far? How did it get out of hand? What went wrong? I study the Torah every day. And Gemara. Rivka studies with ladies of the community. We both come from good families.." He thought and he thought... It began when he insulted his wife. He was angry and he insulted his wife. I asked, "What did you say?" He looked at the floor then directly into my eyes and said, "I called her a goyish pig." He continued, "After that it was easy. I followed with other insults. Rivkah didn't respond to me originally but soon joined my horrible example. One thing led to another and..."

Thank G-d, the story doesn't conclude here. Before being released from jail, Saul visited with a professional domestic problems counselor. The counselor reached Saul. A contact was made regarding his behavior.

Saul entered the path to recovery. Now, after several years, he and Rivkah and their children are all on the path to recovery, thank G-d.

Saul said it all began when the counselor asked him, "Would you like to make this place your permanent residence? The government has a program called 'life without parole.'" Saul related that he handed him a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings of people that were domestic offenders and said, "Read it." The counselor then left the room.

Saul connected with what he read. Several hours later the counselor returned. They discussed what was required for Saul to change. "The changes were not complicated," Saul said. "It was like a man who smoked three packs a day. His doctor tells him, 'You're dying. You have to give the cigarettes up NOW if you want any hope of surviving.'"

Saul was fortunate. He had no illusions about where he was at. He accepted full responsibility for his improper actions and immediately took the first step towards G-d by that action. He didn't blame Rivkah or the neighbor who called the authorities. He took full responsibility for his improper action. It didn't stop there. Saul entered a voluntary program for domestic problems on the advice of both his attorney and the counselor. Saul's reasoning was simple. He was in trouble. He was separated from his wife of nine years and his children. Rivkah had placed a restraining order against him. His children were in foster care somewhere. He would be required to appear in court for his improper actions soon, a little over four weeks. What could he do???

He wasn't in denial. He knew his actions were wrong. He admitted this... so he took a second step. In his own words he stated, "On the day I was released from jail I knew my whole life was in disarray. There was no question in my mind. I had to change. My entire focus was, I had to change."

This is an unusual attitude for most domestic offenders, those arrested and those waiting for that appointment (G-d forbid). Saul is to be commended for his straightforward actions. Most domestic offenders blame others for their actions, choosing to live in denial. Saul enrolled in a program with the focus of changing his behavior, making amends to his wife Rivkah and their children and with a serious eye on his court date several weeks away.

In actuality, this is where we are today in this week's parsha. We are a few weeks away from appearing before the eternal Judge. Like Saul, we have time to make amends to relatives, friends and enemies and to change our improper behavioral patterns. We know we have problems, but will we have the courage to deal with them and, when necessary, seek professional help? We still have time to take one very big step towards G-d by entering the path to recovery! We can view our medos now, six weeks in advance of our court date and take corrective actions.

So when we read in this week's parsha, "Yid, what does G-d require?"...we already know: take one big step...enter the path to recovery. .

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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