Our parents understand more than we may sometimes think they do. In this week's Torah portion (Gen. 48:17-19) Joseph thought his father, Jacob, had misunderstood him when he asked for a blessing for his two sons, but Jacob had really understood and acted appropriately. Our parents' wisdom and experience can help us to live a good and happy life.
In our story, a kid learns a lesson in listening to his father's wisdom.
TAKING THE BAIT
"Dad, it's way too early to get up!" Jon protested as he glanced at the pre-dawn darkness outside his bedroom window as his father woke him for the deep-sea fishing trip the two of them had been planning. "What difference does it make if we go now or in a couple of hours?" he said pulling the blanket back over his head.
"It makes a difference to the fish," his dad replied, "and if you want to catch a lot, we've got to get a move on."
Jon didn't agree, but since his dad had the car keys, the boy reluctantly dragged himself out of bed and after washing up, stumbled down to the kitchen, where his father was packing snacks for the trip.
"Hey, why are you taking all that boring stuff like crackers and rice cakes? I'm not going touch any of that. For a trip like this, we need real treats - you know, nachos, barbecue chips, the works!" he said, stuffing them into the cooler as his father cast him a hard-to-figure smile.
They drove to the dock where the for-hire boats were waiting for customers.
"How long would you like to go out for, sir?" the fishing captain in his tall rubber boots asked Jon's dad.
"Two hours, please."
"What?" Jon jumped up. "Only two hours? That's not enough time! We need to go out all day, you know, at least four, six or eight!" But his dad stuck to his guns, so, sulking, the boy plodded up onto the fishing boat's deck.
It's too bad, he thought, that I'm not the one in charge of this trip. Then we would have done it right - come later and stayed longer. Well, at least Dad managed to pack some decent food...
The fish were biting pretty well and it wasn't long before the two had caught more than enough fish to make everyone supper. Jon was having fun - the only thing was he was feeling queasy from the combo of the boat jostling on the waves, and the exhaust fumes from the engine.
"If you eat something, you'll feel better," his dad advised, opening the cooler to let Jon pick. But the sight of the Day-Glo packages of the snacks he had packed and their even more spicy and colorful contents made Jon's stomach turn even faster. He dug his hand down deep and pulled out some of his dad's plain rice cakes that just hit the spot.
They fished a while longer, when Jon, feeling sorta bored - after all, how long can you just sit around dangling a string in the water waiting for fish? - turned to his father.
"Um, Dad, are we going to have to stay out here for much longer?"
His father looked at his watch.
"Nope." he smiled. "Just about another 15 minutes and our two-hour rental is up."
Boy was Jon glad it wasn't going to be another two hours, or four, or six, like he'd wanted them to rent the boat for!
After they got home, Jon invited his friend, Marc, to come over and first thing he did was show him the fresh-caught fish filling up the fridge.
"Wow, you caught all those?" the kid said, wide-eyed. "I went with my brother on the same trip last week and we didn't catch anything. The guy on the boat said it was because we didn't come first thing in the morning. I guess he knows what he was talking about."
"He sure does," Jon said, "just like my dad."
Q. How did Jon feel at first about the things his father advised?
A. He didn't agree and felt he knew better.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He saw how his dad had been right and he had known better than Jon had thought he did.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Jon learned that day?
A. He had second-guessed a lot of his father's decisions and thought he knew better, but found out that his dad's advice was right on target.
Q. Why do you think Jon thought he knew better?
A. We all have our opinions on things - and that's fine. But Jon didn't realize that his dad's decisions were coming from a wisdom and experience that he, himself, simply didn't yet have.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Does just becoming older make a person wise?
A. There is virtually no one who goes through life without picking up some wisdom and understanding along the way. However, a person who actively seeks wisdom will end up light-years ahead of someone of the same age who doesn't.
Q. Do our parents always know better?
A. Ultimately, a person has to run his or her own life and is the only one who can make their choices. Still, a parent's combination of life experience, knowing us since … we were us, and genuine love and care for our wellbeing makes them valuable advisors whose advice we'll more often than not do very well to follow.