"A ll that Hashem spoke, we will do and we will hear.”
(Shemos 24:7)

The Gemara (Shabbos 88a) says that when Bnei Yisrael put “naaseh” before “nishma,” a Heavenly voice proclaimed: “Who revealed to my sons this secret that the angels use?” 

What exactly was the great secret here? (Rav Shach, Meirosh Amanah)

I used to have a girl family. When my daughters were young, I put effort into teaching them skills to help me and their future homes. Eventually, we became a team. We’d plan schedules, menus, and divvy up projects. Together, we’d greet Shabbos, revel in a clean house on Leil Haseder, and pack mishloach manos in the wee hours of morning. I didn’t realize how good I had it.

Life has its cycles and stages. My daughters have grown, and now Hashem has seen fit to bestow upon me a boy family. I’m left with a motley crew of guys to train as my next executive task force.

I quit.

By stating “Naaseh v’nishma,” Bnei Yisrael were not only expressing willingness to accept the yoke of Heaven. They were also proclaiming, with great desire, “We’ll do what we’ve heard, and then we’ll hear more and do more.” This was the “secret” of the angels. The angels also do the will of Hashem, not only because they want to accept the yoke of Heaven, but also from a deep yearning to accept new roles after they’ve fulfilled their previous missions.

The difference between male and female brains is nowhere more obvious than in the realm of housekeeping. I love my boys. They’re eager, energetic, and imaginative. They’re also scatterbrained, reckless, and impulsive. (Disclaimer: This is not to make any generalizations about the rare, wonderful males who can cook, clean, and coordinate without kvetching. This is simply one women’s personal journey on the road to remaking ruffians.)

Case One:

“Avi, please throw out the garbage.”

Avi eyes the bins, spends half an hour estimating the size of the egg cartons and whether they’ll fit into a milk carton, and finally drags two full bags across the kitchen floor, leaving a milky trail behind him.

He then disappears outside, ostensibly to throw out the garbage, but doesn’t return for two hours. Mother’s left to mop up milk, put bags back in bins, and find room for the random eggs he relocated to complete his scientific study.

Please. I’m not ungrateful that he actually threw out the garbage. I’m simply pointing out that the goal of a garbage-less kitchen floor was not met.

Case Two:

“Yitzi, please put away your clean laundry.”

Yitzi overturns the basket of laundry on the floor (goodbye, folded laundry), randomly stuffs several pairs of pants and shirts into various drawers, throws two pairs of clean socks into the hall because he decided they’re not his (they are), and then concludes that the clean pajamas can stay on the floor because he’ll need them soon.

Whereas my daughters and I saw a goal to housekeeping (read: clean house), my sons see each task as a distinct entity, giving nary a thought to their purpose. Once, just once, I want them to complete a chore and then ask me, “Ma, what’s next?” Dreams!

Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim (103:20): “Bless Hashem, His angels, those mighty in strength, who perform His word, to hearken to the voice of His word.” We see that the purpose of the angels doing Hashem’s words is to hear and then do more. So, too, Bnei Yisrael were responding when they said “Naaseh v’nishma.” Their entire motivation was to receive more directives from Hashem.

Those who delve into Torah realize there’s no end to the width and depth of Hashem’s holy words. Therefore, they choose to learn and do more. This is the uniqueness of Klal Yisrael, through which they merit to be called the Chosen Nation.

These days, Friday afternoons finds me cleaning up the mess made by my maintenance crew. Purim eve is when I refill mishloach manos because many hands that helped fill them also ate them. And Leil Haseder is when I make shehecheyanu, amazed that I’ve survived the last two weeks without being electrocuted or poisoned by my male cleaning crew.

I love my boys. I pray they’ll grow up to be wonderful husbands. However, I think I’ll leave it to their wives to teach them to look beyond a task and realize there’s a goal here. And no, it can’t be reached by kicking a soccer ball. (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 579)