Parshot Festivals

Low GI inspiration

  • gina goldstein
Either I am a very good mother or a very bad one.
by GINA GOLDSTEIN | Nov 29, 2018

Every day, I take my 14-year-old daughter to school, and on every school morning, we stop and buy coffee en-route. Two skinny flat whites.

This is a very precious and special ritual, and recently, we both admitted that it is often the highlight of our day.

The thought of that delicious hot coffee and that short drive to school together is what gets us out of bed so early. Because on that drive, we share very rare and precious bonding time. Luckily for us, her school is not very close, and our time together lasts about 15 minutes.

But the most special thing about it is that even though the drive is relatively short, it happens daily. On Thursday, she said, “Mom, we are so lucky that we are so close, I hope we always are.” Together, we hoped to have coffee together every single day for the rest of our lives, even for just 10 or 15 minutes, because it is this daily touch point that makes us so close.

“Because”, she explained, “it's not only the big things and the big events we share, it is knowing the small things, the daily grind, the seemingly mundane details about each other.”

I understand. It’s the consistency, it’s the regularity, it’s the “everydayness” of this coffee-drive we share that makes it so precious, that makes us love and enjoy it so much.

Often, I listen as she points things out to me with so much insight. She says that these 15 minutes every morning are far more valuable than if we met weekly for a big “special” date.

I began to think about other relationships in my life, how they would benefit so much from a daily touch point, a daily valuable quality moment or two. I think about Hashem, and why the Jewish people emphasise daily learning and daily prayers.

One of the questions we are asked when we reach the world to come is, “Did you set aside time for learning Torah?” Interestingly, the question is not how much time or how much learning, but whether there was definite time set aside.

And, our rabbis emphasise that time should be set aside daily for prayer and learning because it is this consistency, this regularity, this commitment, this reliable touch point that builds a relationship.

I call it “low GI” sustainable inspiration. Small healthy meals must happen often, consistently, and we should have slow-release energy three, four, or five times a day. So too should our prayers and learning be consistent with slow-release inspiration every day.

We learn Torah that can percolate in our minds and provide wisdom released slowly over time. We say Modeh Ani every morning, and The Shema every night. Maybe that’s how you build a relationship with G-d.

Just as we cannot eat a whole chocolate cake on our birthday, and hope it will sustain us for the year ahead and we will not need meals for the rest of the year, so we cannot hope that an annual visit to shul will provide inspiration for the whole year ahead.

In the “once-a-year quality time versus quantity time” debate, relationships require quantity as well as quality of time, built up over years that brings rich closeness. My daughter and I discussed this aspect as I dropped her outside her high school.

I had to shoo her out the car because she didn’t want to end our chat! In the end, she hopped out with all that caffeine pulsing through her bloodstream, and bounced off for the day.

She was a few minutes late, and I know we spend too much money on coffee. As I said, maybe I’m a really good mom, maybe I’m not!

  • Gina Goldstein is the wife of the chief rabbi of South Africa, and has an honours degree in Psychology. She has been speaking, teaching, writing, and working in the South African Jewish community for more than 20 years. Together with her husband, she co-founded The Shabbos Project, Sinai Indaba, and Generation Sinai.


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