Zeh to-aim l’fi maasav vzeh to-aim l’fi maasav.
Both eat from one bowl, but this one tastes according to his experiences and that one tastes according to his experiences. (Avos d’Rabi Nasan, 37:9)
You and your child share an external experience. Did you just have the same
experience internally? Often, you did not.
Sensory experience can be shared. It comes from your environment and is received by your five senses: You see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
Perception, what you think about each experience, is unique to you.
You see a photograph and say, “that’s so beautiful.” Your child is not impressed.
You hear a wedding band and say it’s too loud. Your teen says it rocks!
You say the fabric has a lovely texture. Your daughter says it’s scratchy.
You love broccoli. You know the rest.
Everyone knows that fragrance is in the nose of the beholder. Just look at the size of the perfume department in Macy’s.
How do you discover your child’s perceptions, his internal experiences and how they color his new experiences in life?
You, figuratively speaking, use wine.
When you want to emphasize something deeply rather than on a superficial level, you describe it as soed. This is a level of comprehension that cannot be reached by intellect alone. It requires emotional awareness. That the human emotion will be processed and ready to feel the inwardness of the matter. This is alluded to by the expression nichnas yayin, yotzei soed, wine brings emotions to the fore. (Likutei Oros, page 90)
Nichnas yayin, yotzei soed. A well known expression with a fascinating source.
Yehuda and Ḥizkiya, sons of Rabi Chiya, were sitting at a meal before Rebbe and they were not saying anything. Rebbe said to bring more wine for the young men, so that they will say something. Once they were relaxed, they said: The descendant of David HaMelech will not come until two families are destroyed from Israel. They are the families of the head of the exile in Bavel and of the Nasi in Eretz Yisrael. [They were speaking to Rebbe, who was the Nasi in Eretz Yisrael!]...
Rebbe said to them: My children, do you throw thorns in my eyes? Rabi Chiya said to him: Rebbe, do not be upset. The numeric value of the word yayin [wine] is seventy, and the numerical value of the letters in the word soed [secret] is seventy. When wine enters, secrets emerge, Nichnas yayin, yotzei soed. (Sanhedrin 38a)
How does this happen? How does wine, which causes relaxation, result in the release of otherwise hidden secrets?
Amar Rabi Yehudah haLevi b’Rabi Shalum, b’lashon ivri shemo yayin, uv’lashon arami chamar. B’gimatriya, masayim v’arbo'im u’shmona, kneged eivorim she’ba'adom. Ha’yayin nichnas b’chol eiver v’eiver, v’haguf misrasheil, v’hadaas m’tulteles.
Rabi Yehudah haLevi b’Rabi Shalum said, in Hebrew it [wine] is called yayin. In Aramaic it is called chamar. The numeric value of the word chamar is 248, corresponding to the 248 limbs of the human body. Wine enters into every limb causing the body to slacken and daas is removed. Nichnas ha’yayin v’hadaas yotzeis. The wine enters and the daas leaves. (Midrash Tanchuma, Shmini, 5, page 52 in Zichron Aharon edition)
Is this a bad thing? In the Tanchuma’s discussion, yes.
For parents, often not.
What does daas mean? The first time the word daas appears in Tanach is with reference to what is commonly referred to as the Aitz HaDaas, the Tree of Knowledge. However, that is not the tree’s full name. The full name is Aitz HaDaas Tov v’Ra, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, the tree of subjective thinking. The tree that added judgment and evaluation to objective sensory information.
Prior to eating from that tree, Adam HaRishon was given the gift of objective knowledge, as was everyone ever since.
Ata chonein l’adam daas. You give man knowledge as an unearned gift...The first principles are called simple knowledge. Ata chonein l’adam daas means that this knowledge is found equally in all mankind, requiring no learning, given as an unearned gift. (Sefer HaIkarim, Maamar I:16)
The Tanchuma warns against losing objective daas as a result of inebriation. This is harmful.
I believe the Likutei Oros is describing the use of wine to suppress the type of daas associated with the Aitz Hadaas, subjective knowledge. This can be beneficial.
Why would you want to suppress subjective knowledge?
Because we sometimes use subjective knowledge to censor ourselves.
Here are some examples:
I wish I could tell my father that I want to spend more time with him but I don’t want him to feel guilty because I know he is really busy.
I wish I could tell my mother that I want to spend more time at my grandparent’s house but she’ll feel bad that I’d rather be there than at home.
What’s the subjective knowledge in those examples?
In both examples, the child censored himself because it would be bad to say what he wants. It is good to keep quiet and not upset anyone.
When a parent provides a child with figurative wine to suppress the child’s censorship the child will share her true wishes, thoughts, and feelings.
What is figurative wine? It is speech that offers the characteristics and effects of wine. Speech that is sweet, soothing, relaxing. Speech that helps a child feel safe to loosen her inhibitions, to trust her parent with her truth.
Yayin y’samach l’vav enosh. Your figurative wine is a source of simchas hachaim to your children. Pour it generously.
Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with specialties in marriage, dating, and parenting.
He is the author of Confident Parents, Competent Children, in Four Seconds at a Time Available at bookstores and on Amazon.
He can be reached at 718-344-6575.