Have you ever spent any time with unruly children? I mean, really unruly children. I have. Now, don’t get me wrong – all children are beautiful, some are just shall we say… highly spirited? A friend of mine had a couple of kids like that. No matter what she and her husband seemed to do, they could not manage their children’s temperament. We’d be sitting there in the living room and they’d come barreling through, running and screaming, knocking over furniture like bulls in a china shop.
I’ll never forget the day she turned to me and asked: Why, Karen? Why are my children so wild?
I answered, “Well spiritually speaking, many of the behavioral patterns of a child are formed during conception. For example, if one is angry during the moment of conceiving, they might end up with an angry child.”
She didn’t much like that answer. But you know, it is true. We get a glimpse into this profound idea in this week’s portion of Naso. There is an entire passage in which an angel comes to a pregnant woman and tells her all that she must restrict in order for her child to be born a Nazarite. In fact, the angel tells her not to drink alcohol! Imagine, all those years ago the Bible already knew what doctors only started telling women in the 1970’s? What the Bible is really telling us here is that the formation of such a high holy soul does not begin at birth, but rather when the child is still in the womb and even at the moment of conception.
The significance of this story is not reserved for pregnant women alone, as you may have guessed. It relates to every aspect of our human lives. We are constantly “conceiving,” are we not? We are always creating life of some kind. Whether we are forming new friendships, taking on new business ventures, baking a cake, or creating a child – what determines the result of how our lives will look are not just our actions, but also our thoughts as we perform them.