Your home should become a light that illuminates the entire street and community — The Rebbe
A young father worked hard and had great success, but he seemed very sad. His father noticed this and stopped by to talk to him; the young man was surprised when, instead of asking about work, his father asked how much time he was spending with his family.
“With all the demands of this job, I have very little time for that,” he replied.
“That sounds like what my father used to say,” his father said. “Every day I would wait by the window for him to come home, and every day I would fall asleep before he came. For the sake of your children, and for the sake of their children, no matter how much work you have, try to make it home every night in time to tuck them in. You cannot imagine how much you will be doing for them — and for yourself.”
After many hours of looking for food, a bird returns to its nest, taking supreme comfort in a place that is warm and safe, far removed from the dangers and distractions of the world outside.
Your home and family are your nest, the center of your life, the hub from which all your daily experiences extend. Both as children and adults, our home and family are where we should feel most comfortable in the world. They determine how you make your life decisions; they shape your attitudes, your awareness, your self-esteem. A healthy home life is obviously a vital ingredient in the pursuit of a meaningful life.
How do you build a healthy home?
There are three key elements in building a peaceful home life: the relationships between family members, the atmosphere of the home itself, and the way the home is run.
When a family shares principles and values, they grow together. The home becomes a foundation for the family’s shared sense of purpose while providing a springboard for each member to pursue his or her own goals. In such homes, families stay up late talking heart-to-heart about what’s on their minds. Children crowd around grandparents to hear stories. Teenagers debate meaningful issues with each other and with their parents. The whole family gets together — and not just on holidays — for evenings of songs, games, and reminiscing. The home becomes alive, a source of energy and hope, of urgency and love. It is not the tranquility of a home that makes it peaceful; it is the life within.
The ultimate beauty in a home is its emotional and spiritual warmth. There are many ways to beautify your home spiritually, to invite G-d into your home. Place a charity box in each room. Talk with your family about G-d and our responsibilities as good-hearted people. Invite guests into your home, and allow it to be used as a place of study and prayer, or to hold charitable functions or community meetings.
Each healthy home is a macrocosm of the entire universe, helping make the entire world a home for G-d. Harmony at home, within a family, translates into harmony between families and communities and nations. When there is no harmony between people who are related by blood, how can we expect to create harmony between strangers?
After many centuries of exhausting journeys, it is time for all of us to come home — to ourselves, to our families, to G-d. After the thousands of years of civilizing this world, after the millions of spiritual seeds that human beings have planted through acts of kindness, the time has come for this world to sprout like a garden — G-d’s garden, a universe filled with goodness and knowledge.
Make your home truly beautiful by introducing spirituality into your home, welcoming guests, and talking with your family about our responsibilities as good-hearted people. Your children will grow up to remember their home as a place of warmth and kindness, where people felt comfortable to gather and talk about things that mattered to them. In all likelihood, these children will grow into adults who will create the same sort of home.
A beautiful home must also be free from influences that can pollute its wholesomeness and spiritual grace — television, for instance. People today recognize the damaging effects that television has on impressionable children, and, for that matter, on teenagers and adults. A television must not be allowed to rule the home.
The next time you are sitting in your living room or sharing a meal with your family, ask yourself: Do I truly feel at home? Am I doing everything possible to build a healthy family and household? Do guests feel welcome here? And, above all, Does G-d feel comfortable in my home?
This is an excerpt from “Toward a Meaningful Life – The Wisdom of the Rebbe” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.