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Over the recent holiday of Succot, my great grandson Zev came to Israel and stayed with me in my home for almost two weeks. Since he is only six months old he naturally brought his parents with him, also very dear to me but certainly not as cute as Zev. It has been many years since I had such a young baby reside with me for that length of time. I had forgotten the wonders that accompany a baby during its first year of life.

The great Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin of Salant famously observed that there were three basic lessons in life that one could learn from observing a baby – it is always busy, is always ready to be happy and when it is uncomfortable and desires something, it cries. Anyone who is fortunate to have a baby in the house will readily attest to the wisdom and accuracy of the statement of that most astute of wise men of the 19th century Jewish world.
Babies are always busy. They are curious and wish to see and touch everything that exists before them. My great grandson was fascinated by a plastic bottle containing iced tea. He held the bottle in his tiny hands, and excitedly gurgled for minutes on end. I cannot understand why this particular bottle so fascinated him when there were others on the table that he seemingly chose to ignore. But that was one of the most fascinating things that I observed because it marked the beginning of the development of this unique personality, the individuality that is the hallmark of the human race.
Babies like to be held and coddled. This is a feeling that we never really outgrow later in life, though we may be more reticent to admit it and sometimes even ashamed that this is the way we feel. Though babies require a great deal of sleep they always seem to fight the onset of sleep. It is as though they do not wish to miss any of the action, sleep becomes the enemy of curiosity, discovery and fun.
I noticed that my great-grandson had certain toys that seemed to be favorites with him. He responded to a few of the toy objects placed on the floor with him while he assiduously avoided other equally colorful playthings. Again, the development of the human personality and its uniqueness is truly one of the wonderous events of human life.
 I also noticed this when it came to food. Though the menu and diet of my great-grandson was really very limited, it became clear to me that there were certain foods that he liked and ate with gusto while other foods – probably the healthy ones – his mother had a hard time getting him to open his mouth and swallow. Like everything else that characterizes individuality, each human being’s pallet and taste buds are unique.
With his parents constantly around and attending to his needs I was never forced to wake up at night to feed him or to change his diapers or to simply make him more comfortable. I had the benefits of a baby in my house without the responsibilities that the presence of a baby forces upon adults. That is one of the benefits of achieving great grandparenthood. No one expects you to do any of those necessary but often annoying baby tasks. The freedom from responsibility, of not having to actually care for the baby, allows one to be much more philosophical and analytical regarding the development of a baby.
The two weeks that Zev and I spent together provided me with a much needed emotional lift.  Things are just different when there is a baby in the house. Life is more interesting, albeit noisier and demanding. I understand completely why the task of raising children is given to those who are yet relatively young in years. I was wise enough not to make any suggestions or comments regarding the forthcoming education and growth of my great grandson.
My years of raising children have long passed and harried parents rarely appreciate good advice from those who do not have to get up for the midnight feeding. I am confident that Zev is in good hands and in a very good place. I am truly grateful to the Lord for having allowed me to have had a baby in my house once again.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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