Mixed up mussar


Driving my kids to school is usually pretty a constant diet of deciding what music should be played or what “book on cd” to listen to.  This morning, however, I attempted to show them that life lessons can be found everywhere.

Yesterday  on the drive we saw a concrete mixer truck and it was full.  How did I know it was full?  Because the drum was turning around and around and around.
I asked the kids why the drum was turning and my uberson said that, “If the cement stops turning then it gets hard.”

My uberdaughter then said that, “If it gets hard then it is useless.”

I told them that each of us are like the cement and the cement mixer.  If we are not constantly in motion trying to be better Jews doing Mitzvos like helping our friends and serving Hashem then our neshamos will get stuck like hard cement and it will be difficult to build ourselves up and be better people.

Did the get it?  Sort of.  My 4th grade son told over the moshul to his Rebbe and got a “zechus ticket”.  My 2nd grade daughter told her younger sister that if she didn’t share then her neshama would get stuck like cement.

6 thoughts on “Mixed up mussar

  1. Shlomo Argamon

    What a great mashal! But your 2nd grade daughter’s use of it is, I fear, fairly typical – they do it much less now, but my kids have often said to each other things like “You just created a bad malach!” and the like, when their sibling was bothering them. It’s natural for them to use these concepts as tools for the ego, and it’s a key lesson to teach them not to.

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  2. Raphael Adams

    Very nice.

    At the risk of extending the moshol too far, but just as the cement mixer is just in transit and stops moving when the cement is poured in the desired location, so also are we just in transit. When we reach our desired location, we can leave a solid foundation for those who follow us.

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  3. Neil Harris

    Shlomo: “You just created a bad malach!”- I’ve heard that one a few times also. Along with “If you walk backwards you step on a malach.” 🙂

    N: Good!

    Raphael: That is a great extention of the moshol. Perfect!!

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  4. Litvak

    Hi Neil –

    I just visited your blog for the first time in a while (being usually only an occasional/intermittent visitor), and read a number of recent posts.

    Firstly, I want to express condolences to you upon the loss of your father. Hamokom yinacheim eschem bisoch shear aveilei tzion viyrusholoyim.

    It was interesting and enlightening to read about your family background and your father. I see that he was a person for whom ethics was important and that helps me understand how his son is so ‘into’ mussar. Maybe someday (if you wish) you will mention some more about the family background. I assume that his father and/or grandfather immigrated to the USA from the former Czarist empire?

    I hope that you are adjusting well to saying kaddish and stuff like that. If you need any tips, I have some experience from when my father passed on…

    Be well and keep up the great work with the thoughtful postings. When you do that I think they give your father additional points upstairs!

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