There is an old Jewish story about the young pupil who asks the respected rabbi a question about that well-known passage in Deuteronomy 6:6. “And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart.” “Why is it this way?” the pupil asks. “Why are we told to put these words upon our hearts? Why are we not told to place them in our heart?” And the old rabbi answers that it is not within the power of human beings to place divine truth directly into the human heart. “All that we can do,” says the rabbi, “is place them on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks they will drop in.”
How true. I think of all the truths that were placed upon my heart by people who loved me and probably wanted to place them directly into my heart—to save me from the suffering they had endured—make sure I got it! But they couldn’t. All they could do was leave them there on the surface of my heart, and then, when it was broken a little later in life, those truths dropped in. It is always a sublime moment of joy in sorrow.
There is a sanctity to the human heart. Not even God invades it. Nor can we. We might wish it were otherwise, that God would just give us the truth directly and spare us the grief of the breaking. And of course we certainly wish we could give truth directly to those we love, especially our children and grandchildren. I have to laugh at myself when I try that with my children. I know it comes from a place of love, but my ego is just as prominent. If I respect the sanctity of the human heart I will simply place that truth upon it, and back reverently away. I have now done what, absolutely, a loving father must do. And no more.