When We Lose Control

Chukat: A resource for families

Commentary on Parashat Chukat, Numbers 19:1 - 22:1

People lose control. We may get excessively angry or behave impulsively or destructively. We may scream at a child, eat too much, or drink. The reasons for such behavior are many. Sometimes there is a sense that something is missing in our lives, a hole we don’t know how to fill, or a difficult issue we don’t know how to address. That darkness lurks behind some of our behavior, and then suddenly, when we least expect it, erupts into unwanted behavior.

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses loses control. Moses’ people are complaining yet again, this time for lack of water in the desert. God tells Moses specifically to speak to a rock in order to draw water from it. Instead Moses hits the rock in anger. He loses patience with his people who are constantly complaining. But there is also a backdrop of loss to Moses’ behavior. His beloved sister Miriam has just died. Moses’ grief causes him to be short on the patience he normally exhibits with the people he is leading through the desert to the Promised Land.

It is important not to lose control especially with our children. We don’t want to explode at them for minor infractions.  We also don’t want to set up models of destructive behavior for our children, whether it concerns behavior such as overeating, smoking, or drinking excessively. Therefore, parents must address the origins of such behavior. We might be dealing with ongoing frustrations at work, a loss of someone close to us, financial worries, or sources of tension in our marriage. Whatever the issue is, better to address the deeper issue than for us to lose control, especially when children are concerned.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how Moses lost his temper in the desert and hit the rock with his stick out of frustration.

·    What kind of situations might lead you to lose your temper?
·    What happens when you lose your temper?  Do people around you get hurt?
·    How else do you handle difficult problems in school or at home?
·    Did losing your temper ever accomplish anything worthwhile?

© Copyright 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.


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