Freedom Within Limits

Limits and guidelines in our own lives help us to accomplish tasks and fulfill our responsibilities.

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Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

How many times have you heard, "I'm bored," from a child? It’s a rare kid who is able to enjoy large amounts of unstructured playtime. Instructions and limits help kids to enjoy themselves.What would happen to your children if they had a full free afternoon with unlimited sweets? How many kids could avoid boredom and a tummy ache? Though they may not like the idea of rules and restrictions, rules enable fun and even teach kids how to take care of themselves.

In this week's Torah portion, Vaera, Moses demands that Pharaoh free the Israelites from slavery. Moses is clear why he wants people’s freedom: so that they may serve God. Moses is not seeking absolute freedom for the Children of Israel. Rather, he is seeking to take them from Pharaoh's harsh rule to the loving guidance of God. Moses knows that unbridled freedom would not be beneficial to anyone. He knows that rules and structures will be liberating for the Israelites.

Though we may bristle at the idea of restrictions placed on ourselves, we see how young people flourish when given clear, easily understood rules. Limits, instructions, and guidelines in our own lives help us to accomplish tasks and fulfill our responsibilities. They enable us to find balance. From speed limits to job descriptions, we, like the Children of Israel, can feel more free with such guidelines.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about what helps them have fun.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· Who makes the rules you follow?

· What is a rule that you wish more people followed?

· What do you think makes something a good rule? A bad rule?

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Judith Greenberg was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is now a rabbi and new mother living in Chicago.