Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Absalom:  His Legacy, Identity, and Remembrance

Absalom was the third son of King David and Maachah.  He was an exceptionally handsome boy whose mother once tied him to the leg of a table and hit him, with a warning so that he should remain humble, honest, and caring.  She felt that if he wronged others, the world would hold her responsible.  As an upbringer of her beloved son, she wanted him to be righteous, kind, forgiving, accepting, and have all the good traits of a decent human being!             

In this, the twenty-first century, we, as Jewish parents, still feel great responsibility for the honesty, the education, the work ethic, and more regarding our children.  As did Absalom’s mother, we too believe if our sons or daughters do not lead a fairly exemplary life we are responsible.  Life has changed over the centuries.  We have less and less control over our children and the lives they lead.  We cannot really control whether they will remain in the Jewish faith in which we raised them.  Adult children do not mirror us, the modern boy or girl wants to have freedom, be like his peers.  Their conscience is “loose,” and does not seem to guide them.  They will accept help when they need it but want to be their own person, whatever that may mean. They rarely share their innermost feelings with their parents nor do they care about their parents' directives as sacred.  They answer to their own wishes, their likes and dislikes and what they hold “sacred,” which is rarely sacred in the real meaning of the term.  They consider themselves “with it” in this, the “modern” age. If indeed they think of their parents' possible restrictive ideals they think of them as belonging  to “anno domini,” and as useless/restrictive.  They want to live as their longings, their feelings, and their id demands.  The parents want to be cherished and loved by their children and adapt as much as possible to the behavior that their offspring exhibit.  They are often afraid to comment on what their “dear children” do regardless of the repulsion they feel at a particular time. In this life of anomie, adults try very hard not to antagonize the would be strict or antagonistic offspring.

As a result of what has been experienced in this century, divorce is ordinary, theft is cleverly renamed, and hostility against parents and other would be parent substitutes are not uncommon.  To please the younger generation seems to be an unspoken rule, be it right or wrong.  Even those who have joined ISIS are, when caught destroying innocent lives, excused by their parents.  What these ignorant parents accomplish is the destruction of normality, and the creation of adult children who are convinced “right” is “wrong” and rules are for imbeciles and fools.  Narcissism appears to be at the core of the behaviors that are today accepted by many, to the detriment of today's inhabitants.  

As parents of young adults, we must recognize that we are deluding ourselves as well as our offspring when we are obviously afraid to disagree, and are encouraging and accepting our progeny when they exhibit lack of self control and twist the “wrong” behavior into into allegedly acceptable conduct.  We are willing to agree to almost anything to be “loved” by those who were our responsibility from birth through young adulthood. 

As responsible Jewish adults, we must remember the age old saying:  “Alles mὅg mann tun alles torr man tun dann kommt yo veyomer. (the rough translation is:  we can do anything and everything; however, then comes the day of reckoning). 


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

Home ] Up ]