Then Rav Miller cites Gemara Pesachim 56a, which mentions a man who went around saying, "I want to live along the coast."
He loved the seashore so much, he dreamed of building a home by the sea when he retired.
When they looked into why he loved the sea so much, they discovered this man descended from Zevulun, which was the sea-faring Tribe. Hashem ingrained within Bnei Zevulun a love for the ocean.
Another man went around saying, "Donu dini – Judge my case."
Whenever there was a disagreement between this man and another, he wasn't interested in arbitration or compromise; he wanted the crystalline verdict: Who's right? Who's wrong? And what must be done now?
He said "Donu dini" so often that they checked into his lineage and discovered what you probably already guessed: "Donu dini" descended from the Tribe of Dan.
Rav Miller explains about the inner make-up of Bnei Dan (pg. 5):
It’s a family that doesn’t believe in leeway, in bargaining and arbitration.
Shevet Dan was rigid; others might be more flexible, they’re not such sticklers for din, but the family of Dan liked that everything should be according to the strict letter of justice. It was a characteristic of the entire family.
That’s why there are people like that today too; they don’t like to deviate at all.
Even little children sometimes are born that way; it’s their nature to follow rules. It used to be in Europe, in Yiddish, we used to call a child like that a “zakonik.”
Zakon in Russian means law; a zakonik is a child who likes the law.
If you tell him once to close the door when he walks out, he’ll always remember that.
I remember I once saw a child like that. You told him once when he was a little baby of three years old, “Don’t forget to close the door,” and after that he never forgot.
It was in his nature.
I even crave it.
I think it's because it's proof that different natures really are ordained by Hashem, so it follows that even if your society disapproves, Hashem Himself approves.
Meaning, Hashem Himself WANTS us to be this way or that way—used for the good, of course.
I think this helps access Divine Love. Hashem really does like YOU.
We are Not the Religion of Cloning
But that's all wrong.
It's what you DO with your personality that matters.
Every trait can be used for the good or the bad.
Allowing your child to be him or herself became a big issue in chinuch—and rightly so.
But what initially broke me (and I still remain dismayed by this) is how the chinuch people tend to expect mothers to be clones.
NOT all of them expect this. Definitely not all of them. There are chinuch people with genuine wisdom & insight.
But what I initially encountered made me feel like there's only one right way to be a mother.
And that one way always happened to be exactly the same way as the chinuch rebbetzin herself.
(It's obvious that was never intentional, but simply how they naturally felt.)
But that's 100% NOT true.
There is not only one way.
That's a recipe for disaster.
It's All Cramped & Dark Stuffed Inside the Mommy-Mold
I have a friend who absolutely NEEDS 9 hours of sleep.
Even if she sleeps 8 hours at night, she still craves a short nap during the day.
So she needs to work around the need in life and sleep always remained one of her top priorities—even more than food.
And that's fine. That's her physiology. How on earth could she possibly change it?
Others are energetic to the point they're bouncing off the walls, while others find it hard to get off the couch—and then there's everyone between those 2 extremes.
And that's just the basic unchangeable physiology of a human being.
A wife with a competent, helpful husband experiences a different life with different resources than a wife with an unhelpful, demanding husband.
Also, the children's personalities define the home.
I know people insist that the mother decides the atmosphere of the home, but you can't compare a home of naturally hyper children to a home of naturally calm ones.
(I wrote more about that HERE.)
It's really the children who define the atmosphere of the home.
And because, no matter how hard I tried, I could never wedge myself deep enough into their mommy-mold, I mostly gave up listening to or reading chinuch lectures & books—with a few exceptions, of course.
Thank God for the exceptions!
And I more or less went the way Rav Shalom Arush writes in Garden of Education.
And I've been winging it ever since!
I think that reading about the different qualities of the Tribes offers a lot of comfort & chizuk (encouragement).
Not only is it okay to be different—even extremely different—from each other, but it is even DESIRABLE.
We literally & spiritually NEED to be different from each other!
That's exactly how Hashem set things up in the first place.
Here's Rav Miller again on page 6 (emphasis mine):
If I happen to think one way, it may be something that you cannot change in me; it may be built in into my nature.
Just as Zevulun loved the sea, and Dan loved clear-cut din – it wasn’t something you could change; it was inherited; it was in his blood and it would be transmitted forever to all of his seed.
Clone-Enforcement is Rebellion against Hashem
Rav Miller describes different Gedolim (both men & women) in Jewish history who contributed what they did by virtue of their personality—contributions others could not have made.
As Rav Miller states (pages 7-8; boldface & underline mine):
It’s not an accident; that’s what Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants, that each one will use his own particular talents, his own characteristics in his service of Hashem.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu has planned these differences from the beginning and He’s waiting to see, “Will this person utilize his stay in this world to bring forth by means of his own personality and his unique capabilities the greatness that he’s capable of?”
This idea means that if we force someone to stuff his or her own personality into a box and serve Hashem like someone of the opposite personality, then we are going against Hashem's Will.
In that case, we are harming the Jewish people.
Hashem WANTS the unique service of this personality & that personality.
Who are we to deny Him?
Who are we to think we know better than the Creator of the Universe?
Take a Walk on the Peculiar Side
It means that this world is your place for achieving greatness by means of your peculiarities.
The Rambam says that every person is capable of becoming as great as Moshe Rabbeinu! Not by being Moshe Rabeinu. Not by being Rashi or Sarah Schenirer or the Baal Shem Tov.
By being yourself!
That's not a mistake or because he couldn't find a better word.
We often fear being thought strange, weird, odd, or peculiar.
But here, we see that Rav Miller wants us to take davka what's strange, weird, odd, or peculiar and USE it in Hashem's Service.
When channeled correctly, peculiar is perfectly praiseworthy!
And don't forget the Practical Tip on page 17...
Credit for all quotes & material goes to the uniquely wonderful Toras Avigdor.