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30- Walmart Moments

This week, Rabbi Lehrfield continues his discussion on Passover.


Hey everybody. I'm Menachem Lehrfield and this is 0% as we are smack in the middle of Passover. I want to talk a little bit more about the holiday. We're all familiar with hallmark moments, those moments that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. But I always say if you've really want to feel good about yourself, forget about hallmark moments.Instead, begin to embrace what I like to call Walmart moments. Let me explain for those of you who are not in Denver, who are not familiar with the work that I do on behalf of joy, the Jewish outreach initiative, you run a program every year are called splash into Shabbat. And it's a great program. That's a lot of fun. The basic idea is that it's water activities on a Friday afternoon followed by a Shabbat dinner. And one of the primary reasons why we do this program is to give our participants an experience of what I like to call the crescendo of calm. Shabbat is all about experiencing and being, instead of becoming it's about taking a step back and letting the world function the way it's supposed to. And there's this incredible piece and tranquility that comes along with it. And one of the most remarkable, all parts of Shabbat, especially on a busy day, is how we go from the busyness of the week, where we're focused so much on the urgent. And we transition into the calm and peacefulness of Shabbat, where we focus on what's truly important. So we have this program called splash into Shabbat. And the first year we did the program, most of our programs were fairly small. We only were engaging with a handful of families. And so I, throughout this program, I had seen a friend of mine, SIM hotel, one who did something similar in Detroit. Actually I learned later it as a very different program, but at least in name, we stole the name from them. We came up with this idea for a program. We advertised it and I didn't think twice about it. We had done regular Shabbat dinners in the past, and I figured it would be similar to that. So Thursday night before the program comes around, the program was scheduled for the next day on Friday. And I finished a class that I was giving at about nine or 10 o'clock. I start setting up for the program the next day. And as I'm setting up, I quickly go online just to see what our final numbers are. And I was expecting 40, 50 people tops today, splash into Shabbat. We've outgrown our facility. We now do it at the children's museum. We with over 500 people and it's a huge success, but back then, I never would've dreamed that it would've been even close to that. So I was expecting 50 people and I go online and I look at the numbers and we're at over 150 and I begin to panic. How on earth am I going to set up the space for 150 people by myself? So I just frantically start bringing out tables and trying to Rumage through the building at age to figure out where I can find materials that I can use and other ways to create new water activities and paper goods, and ways to set the table. And I start maybe making a pattern with different color plates. So it'll be red and then white, and then red then white. That way it won't look like we didn't have enough stuff. We just intentionally wanted to make it look like that. And at some point I just realized that none of this was gonna work. I was just not capable of making do with what we had. I needed to go to a place that would have ingredients for food and paper goods and party supplies and water, guns, and water balloons and water activities. And I figured where else in the world can I go after midnight? That would have all of those random items. So of course I settled on Walmart. I get to the store. It's about one in the morning. And the first thing that shocked me, the first thing that I noticed right away was how many children there were. I mean, it's one o'clock in the morning. What on earth are kids doing shopping in Walmart? But nonetheless, there are kids throughout the store. And one particular mother and daughter caught my attention. I will never forget this for the rest of my life. I can tell you exactly where I was. I was at the end of the aisle, I was picking up gumballs that were red and white. They were at elbow length. Again, none of this really matters. And I overhear this girl in the aisle next to me who is acting like a two or three year old would act in a store at one o'clock in the morning. And she was touching stuff. And the mother kept on saying, stop it, put it back, stop it, stop it. She's yelling at her kid. And, and then finally the mother yells at her child and she says, I wish I never even had you. Wow. Can you imagine There's not enough therapy in this world to fix that? So that's where I came up with the idea of a Walmart moment. If you're ever feeling bad about yourself or your parenting, just go to Walmart, look around at some of the other people and compare to that. You will feel like the best parent in the world. There are certain things that as shocking and disgusting as they might be, you expect them in a place like that. What's shocking is that we seem to find a Walmart moment from the almighty himself. The almighty takes the Jewish people outta the land of Egypt. And that's what we're celebrating right now during the holiday of payout during Passover. And it gives them the Torah and they're eating, man, they're eating manana from the heaven and everything is perfect. And then the almighty says to the Jewish people get ready for battle. You're gonna go in. You're gonna conquer the land of Israel. Don't worry. I'll be with you the whole time. It's all gonna be good. And the people begin to panic. They say, whoa, whoa, what do you mean when you say we're gonna go fight and conquer the land? What you mean is we're gonna sit back and you're gonna do all these miracles. Like you didn't Egypt, right? And God says, no, you're gonna roll up your sleeves and you're gonna fight. You're gonna conquer the land, but don't worry. I'm I'm with you the whole way. I'm gonna take care of you. I'm gonna be with you. And as I said, the people begin to panic and they decide they're gonna send in spies. So God says, okay, send for yourself. Spies, which the commentators emphasize the yourself part. God says, I don't think it's a good idea. But if you want to go ahead just as an aside, if any significant other in your life ever says, I don't think it's a good idea. But if you really want to go ahead, don't do it. Not a good idea. So the people send in SPS and they come back with a negative report and they say, the land of Israel is uninhabitable. We cannot conquer it. There's these giants in the land, nowhere. No. And the people begin to panic and the people begin to cry. And the Talmid records that God says to the Jewish people. Since you cry for no reason, now I'll give you a reason to cry for generations. And you look at this passage from the almo, you look at piece of Jewish wisdom and it's puzzling is God vindictive. Where's the compassion. This seemingly is a Shems Walmart moment. Let's take a short detour through the world of psychology and education being that this is a season all about out education. In 1964, there was a man named Robert Rosenthal and he went to the spruce elementary school in San Francisco. And he told them that he was conducting a test. He came from Harvard and he was conducting what he called the Harvard test of inflected acquisition. It was at test that he claimed would be able to identify which students were on the verge of booming, educationally intellectually students who with the right environment would Excel tremendously over the next 12 months. And they tested all the students and they identify specific students and Rosenthal explained to the school to the teachers and to the, and to the administration that these students were poised to bloom academically. And the remarkable thing is over the next school year, the students that Rosenthal identified did exactly as he predicted on average, these bloomers increased their IQ scores by more than 27 points, The only catches he made the whole thing up. The test that they were given was a regular IQ test. And The list of bloomers was completely set at random. There was nothing unusual or remarkable about any of those students. What Rosenthal proved is what he later called the pig million effect, which was named after the, the Greek mythological sculptor whose love for this statue is so great that he inspired the gods, so to speak, to bring her to life. And the idea was that if you believe someone is capable of achieving greatness, then they will actually achieve that greatness. And the same works in the flip side, The almighty says to the Jewish people Who gave you the right to say, you can't do it. They came back with this negative report and God says to them, you saw yourself as insignificant. And therefore you were insignificant. As long as you live without grasshopper mentality, you will have reason to cry from generat to generation. But if you only embrace the mindset that says that you can do it, then you'll succeed because I'm in your corner. I'm with you. Who gave you the right to say that you can't do it when you say you can't do it. What you're really saying says, God, is that you don't believe that I can do it. The most remarkable words in our prayer every day is one of the first things we say. When we wake up in the morning, we say Raba and Moosa that you God believe in us. We make a declaration of the fact that God has faith in me. Forget about our faithfulness in God. The almighty believes in me fact that I woke up this morning means I have something to contribute today that nobody else in the history of the world was ever able to do. I am needed. I am valuable. That's what Passover and the Sader are all about. The Sader is a Knight to build identity, to recognize that we are the ones who left Egypt and God took us out because we have a purpose. And our purpose is to be as Ken SPI calls at the God squad, we are here to make the world a more godly place. And so on pace off night at the S Sater, which we just experienced just a few days ago, we tell over the story of who we, we are the story of who we came from and the story of who we are yet to become Dr. Marshall duke, who I believe is a professor at Emory wrote a fascinating article, which appeared in the New York times. I think it was called the family stories that bind us. And he talked about how, if you want a family that is resilient, you want a family that is strong and United and happy. The greatest way to produce a happy resilient, strong family is by sharing family narratives. The more children understood who their family was. The family stories that are passed down from generation to generation. The more they feel safe and loved. And the more resilient they'll be. He talks about the fact that there are three different primary to types of family narratives. There's the ascending family narrative. That's the family narrative that says son. We came to this country. We had nothing. We came to this country painless and our family worked really hard. And we opened up a store. Your grandfather went to high school. Your father went to college, and now you, you, as the Yiddish mother would say, you, my mama love, I taught to love my baby. It's all up to you. Where are you gonna go? Then there's the descending family narrative. That's the sad, depressing story of how we used to have everything. We had it all. And then we lost everything. And then there's the third family narrative. And that's the oscillating family narrative kind of like a fan that oscillates, that moves back and forth. That's where you sit down your child and you say, let me tell you about what's happened in our family. We've had ups and downs. We built a family business. Your grandfather was the pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital, but we also had a bunch of setbacks.We had a lot of difficult times. Your father lost his job. You had a cousin or an uncle who was arrested, but you know what, no matter what happened, no matter how difficult the times were, we always stuck together. As a family says, Dr. Duke, if you want a happy family, if you want a resilient family, create, refine, and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones that act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come. And it's no wonder that the Sader has been so popular and so successful in keeping the Jewish people alive because every year Jews throughout the world sit down and they tell their family narrative. They tell our larger family narrative who we are as a people. And that's what the Sader is all about. Like the biblical narrative in general, the payso story. The HAA is literally telling over our story, because when I tell it in the form of a story, I allow my children to understand that they too are part of the story. It makes our children characters in this drama that is currently unfolding connecting them to the past and the future rabbi by Jonathan Sachs points out that in Hebrew, there is no word for history, only memory, because history is his story. It's something that happened to someone else. Whereas memory is personal. Memory is our story. He says, imagine you walk into this large library. And in that library, you find a book and you pull that book out. And that book on its binding has your family's name on it. And you start flipping through the pages until you get to the last page. And it's a blank page with your name on it. This idea of telling a story gives us a sense of connection to Jews throughout the world. And throughout time, every other people in the world is connected because they share a land or a language or a culture by the Jewish people have been bound together by this narrative. It's quite remarkable before the Jewish people even leave Egypt before they even become free. Moses gathers the people together and he doesn't tell them about the promised land that they're heading to. He doesn't even talk to them about freedom. Do you know what he does? He tells them about the way we'll tell the story while we're still in Egypt. The Torah commands us about how to tell the story of our Exodus. We haven't even left yet. It reminds me so much of that scene from Hamilton, raise a glass to freedom and they get together and they talk about how they're gonna tell their story. They say, and when our children tell our story, they'll tell the story of tonight. They haven't even tasted freedom and they already begin planning how they're gonna to tell this story. I have no doubt. Um, maybe a little doubt, but I'm fairly convinced that when Lin Manuel Miranda, who is a Jew, was writing this scene, writing this song. He was picturing this pace Al Seder, while still in Egypt, they hadn't even left. And they begin telling about how they're gonna tell a story because are so powerful. Revman of breast love would say that Jews don't tell stories to lull our children to sleep. They're not bedtime stories. We don't tell stories to lull our children to sleep. We tell stories to wake them up. Stories are so powerful. As Terrence gore says, the short, this distance between two people is a story. And the reason why is that we don't remember what people say. We remember what we feel and a story conveys emotion. It conveys that this is personal. It's a personal experience. This is not his story. It's my story. Without now. There's no memory without memory. There's no identity.

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