“For I made myself responsible for the naar youth — to my father, saying, If I do not give him safely back to you, let mine be the sin forever… For how shall I go up to my father, if the youth be not with me?” — Genesis 44:32-34
Although these words were spoken by Judah expressing his commitment to return his brother “the youth” to his father Jacob, hinted here is also our own responsibility to bring our — naar — the inner child within us — back to our Heavenly Father. Otherwise there is no way we can ascend to our Father and lovingly bond with Him in every moment of our life journey.
The Zohar, the magnus corpus of the Kabbalah, teaches us that within us all is a naar – youthful child – and also an old foolish king. What does this mean?
Well, consider the difference between the youthful child and the old foolish king. In Hebrew, naar, the word for child, comes from the word meaning “to shake up.” And that is very appropriate, because the child is always agitating, moving, growing. A child loves playful adventure.
You might live five minutes away from the school and your kid comes home an hour-and-a-half after school has let out.
“Where were you?”
“I was just walking home.”
“But we live five minutes away.”
“I don’t know … I was just walking home.”
“Well how long can it take you to get here? What did you do?”
“Ahh … ahhh … you know that backyard that says `BEWARE OF VICIOUS DOG’? We thought it would really interesting if we climbed over the fence and we’d kind of move across the yard …. `Hi poochie, hi poochie … hi poochie …’ and then you know that antenna next door, well, we climbed up that antenna and jumped over to the other roof …”
A child loves adventure, his excitement isn’t just getting there, his excitement is in the getting to there.
Contrast this with the old foolish king. He thinks that he is already there. Where is there to go if you are already king? He’d rather sit on his throne than take a walk into the unknown. The unknown to him is not an adventure but a risk — he could fall off his high horse, he could lose his crown, you never know.
But a child loves adventure, loves to grow, loves challenge. A child thinks why eat spaghetti with a fork if I can do it with a straw? Now that would be interesting — to just suck each one of them up. A child loves challenge, enjoys the journey and knows how to be playful.
I once watched my kids take hundreds of pieces of a puzzle and spend long hard hours putting it together. I had planned to frame it once it was finished, but they had a different idea. They celebrated its completion by destroying it. Why? Because they were not interested in the puzzle being completed! They were interested in the excitement of doing the puzzle, the challenge and adventure of making it. That’s what they enjoyed about it. They understood what we should all understand. There’s so much life and value in the process, so much growth and awareness in the journey, as difficult as it may be.
Life is a challenge, and if you are ready to acknowledge that and see it as the challenge of any good game — where the challenge itself is what makes it fun — then life for you will not be a burden, but a playful adventure.
Be sure to always take your inner child with you wherever you go so you’ll enjoy the journey.