Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner, Rosh Beit Midrash of the Yeshiva University-Torah MiTzion Beit Midrash Zichron Dov posted the text of a drasha he gave over Shabbos. Not only was I inspired by what he posted, but he eloquently weaved examples and sources that were a pleasure to read. Here’s a teaser:
As our topic this morning is how we raise Jewish children, one lesson here is that we need to do more than tell our community’s children about our ideals; we need to live these ideals, visibly. I know this is likely obvious, but I state it as a first important step for parents, and for all of us, as adults; we are role models by dint of our simple presence.
The entire drasha (not too long) can be read on his blog, here.
Too often we are consumed by the Bein Adam L’Makom’s to the exclusion of the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro’s. Our kids see us off in our own little worlds relating to God but not to them. That’s why they might not connect to God as well as we might like: we’re hogging Him for ourselves.
ThIs is an excellent point. I think it is important to speak to our kids regularly about our relationship with Hashem. This helps personalize their own relationship with the Creator. When my kids tell me good news from their day at school or the rare episode of Hashgacha Pratis, I ask them to, “Thank Hashem”.
Well it’s not just that. I will confess my sin: the phrase “Don’t bother me right now, I’m learning” crosses my lips way, way too often. I know what the classic teaching is but I still think that putting aside one’s own learning and saying to the child “You know what, let’s pull out a book for you right now” would do major things.
I think there was a story with the Ba’al HaTanya and his son similar to that.
The Alter Rebbe, the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, lived in the bottom story of a two-story home in Liadi. His son, later to become the Mitteler Rebbe, lived on the upper floor.
Once the Mitteler Rebbe’s son fell out of the cradle in which he was sleeping and began to cry. The Mitteler Rebbe was so absorbed in his studies, he did not even hear the baby’s cries.
The Alter Rebbe was also studying. Nevertheless, he heard the baby and went upstairs to calm him. Afterwards, he reprimanded his own son. “How could you leave the baby crying?”
The Mitteler Rebbe had what he thought was a legitimate excuse and explained to his father that he simply hadn’t heard. He had been so enwrapped in the subject he was studying that he was oblivious to everything else.
The Alter Rebbe refused to accept the excuse. “You should never be so involved in your own spiritual endeavors that you fail to hear the cry of a Jewish child,” he told his son.
That is one of my ALL TIME favorites stories. In fact, I try to be the first one out of shul when I hear a child cry.
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