Category Archives: chinuch

The one time of the year it’s ok to be "the Jews with the crumbs"

From here

This phrase, “the Jews with the crumbs” is one that I use in a semi-joking way with my family and close friends. It’s sort of my version of the speech that kids get when they go on a school field trip or their camp goes off-site for an activity.  You know the speech, it always starts off, “Now kids, we’re going to a place where they don’t usually see a group of Jews like you. Jews who love Hashem and follow his Torah.”
As a general rule, I dislike going to recreational places on a Sunday (or during Chol HaMoed) where there are tons of other observant Jews, because, more often than not, we all bring our own snacks with us.  That’s all find and dandy, but often I, sadly, find that many of my brothers and sisters will not pick up their trash and leave a huge mess of litter, heimishe food wrappers and juice boxes…thus giving those of us who accept Torah mi’Sinai a bad name.  So, I tell my family that I don’t want us to be known as, “the Jews with the crumbs.”
Call me extreme, fanatical, and over-sensitive. I don’t mind. I think that every time we are at home or in public we have an opportunity m’kadesh Hashem.
That being written, I sat at my desk today during work and ate my shmura matza with jelly, carefull not to let too many crumbs escape the plate.  I had flashbacks to my favorite lunches when I was in public school from K-12.  Hands down, the best lunches of the year were my kosher for Passover lunches.  Corned beef on matza, lox on matza, brisket on matza, margarine and jelly on matza, a hard boiled egg, a fruit, and usually some type of small chocolate or the every popular jelly fruit slices.  Not only were those lunches yummy, but they also were a very visable way to seperate myself from everyone else eating lunch.  There was no way to hid the fact that I was Jewish.
I am not a fan of leaving messes around.  However, for all of the children and famlies that have always gone to school within the day school and yeshiva system, I think Pesach outings allow us to really remember that we are different than everyone else.  Eating your matza sandwich in a park, designated eating area at a museum, or a zoo means that you’re out in public and other see that we are different.  As the tile of this post indicates, this might be only time in the year when it’s ok to be “the Jews with the crumbs.”

There’s nothing wrong with being different, looking different, or eating different, just try not to make a mess.

A Pesach lesson from my son

Photo from here.  Personally this reminds me of
the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine.

Last week during carpool my 12 yr old son shared the following revelation with me:

Abba, did you know that a Mitzvah Tank is just an RV that they Na Nach up Lubavitch style?

I smiled at his his observation, but it also initially bothered me. I have always found it somewhat troublesome when someone copies something from someone else and then they (those who copy) get credit for being creative and original.  I cringed when people would tell me how Blue Fringe had this “awesome new song” called “Hafachta” (originally written and performed by Diaspora Yeshiva Band).  I smirked when teens would tell me that “they came out with another Willy Wonka movie, but that guy just isn’t as weird as Johnny Depp”.  Some remakes of movies and cover songs are not all bad.  I just don’t like it when the originals get overlooked for, simply, being original.

Now, I don’t blame my son.  He’s seen Mitzvah Tanks in Chicago.  He has also seen videos of Na Nachs dancing in Tel Aviv, photos of their Na Nach’ed up vehicles, and even seen some guys selling their swag Motzei Shabbos on Central Ave (in Cedarhurst, NY).  In his mind, the Chabad that copied the Na Nachs, not the other way around.  It’s his frame of reference only because he saw the Na Nachs do it first.

I have been thinking about this for over a week. At first, as I described above, I was bothered. Then, after some hisbonenus  I gained a better perspective on things.  A number of years ago I heard an amazing vort on the chatzatzros, trumpets, used in the Mishkan.  R David Orlofsky quotes Rav Moshe Shapiro, who brings up the point that after Moshe was niftar, the trumpets he used were put away and hidden. Yehoshua had to fashion his own. Rav Shapiro says the reason is that each generation doesn’t aways respond to the clarion call of the previous generation. While the message is the same, the mode for communiting it has to be different.

R Micha Berger puts it like this on his blog:

The call of the shofar is eternal, and thus a shofar is not invalidated by age. However, in contrast to the raw, natural, shofar, the silver chatzotzros are man-made. Their message changes as people do. The call of the chatzotzros is distinct for the generation.

If each generation has to be approached differently then, kal v’chomer (even more so) for each person.
We know that, ” A person is obligated to see himself as if he were leaving Egypt.” (Pesachim 116b)
The way that I might perceive my own freedom from Mitzrayim is, in fact, totally different than how anyone else sees it.  This obligation totally makes sense based on my son’s observation about the Mitzvah Tank.  My son has no choice but to see things from his perspective.  Hopefully he will experience Pesach in a very personal and meaningful way.  Hopefully I will, too.

Maybe the most imporant video/audio link posted this year

Last Monday, February 13th, the Rebbetzin’s Husband posted about an interesting panel discussion that Toronto’s YU Torah MiTzion Beit Midrash Zichron ran in conjuction with the Aish Thornhill Community Shul.  The program, titled, “On, of, and after the Derech”.  The event featured Dr. Rabbi Nosson Westreich, Rabbi Avram Rothman, and was moderated by Rabbi Morechai Torczyner.
The video can be seen here and the audio and is available here.

Free parenting shiurim from Rav Moshe Weinberger

Photo from is offering an excellent series of parenting shiurim as free mp3 downloads, here.  Just scroll to towards the bottom of that page to get shiurim 1-10 of “Inspired Parenting”.  I own the cassettes and have listened to them over and over again.  I can’t even being to say how important theses shiurim are in terms of understanding the partnership with Hashem a parent has, the reason why you were given the children you have, and how to really give over Toras Chaim.  Here’s a little info about the shiurim (from the back of the cassette binder):

In the summer of 5760 (2000), Rav Weinberger conducted a series of special shiurim for parents seeking chizuk in that area of life that is most crucial and challenging.

Using as a base text a recently published kuntres (treatise) of Rav Silverberg from Yerushalayim, Rav Weinberger teaches taht the only way to rasie inspired children is by becoming insprired parents.

As in all of of his shiurim, Rav Weinberger taps into the vast reservoir of Chassidus and Machshava to take us on an exhilarating journey into the world of inspired parenting.

Again, the shiurim are available for a limited time here.

Staying in shul (and davening)

I have a found there a few factors involved when it comes to a getting a child to stay in shul and attempting to daven.  I am not a parenting, chinuch, or educational expert.  I am just a regular guy and these are my observations and what has, so far, worked for me.  Of course, if you child cannot behave in shul, then they really are too young to come to shul (regardless of age).  In no particular order the factors that I’ve observed are:

  • Seeing adults who take davening seriously:  This means no excessive talking and very little DADD (davening attention deficit disorder)
  • Understanding that coming to shul is a privilege:  It’s a special treat to get to come and daven to Hashem
  • Appreciating that shul is a mikdash me’at:  Instilling an idea of the kedushah of a shul is key (see this post)
  • Positive peer influence:  While we can offer direction, our children’s friends truly are influential
  • Having davening incentive programs in school:  A child needs to know that what he is doing is being observed and rewarded
  • Having slightly older role models:  Being able to look up to someone, even a grade older, can give a child someone to look up to
  • The candy man- As my son’s 4th grade rebbe told us a parent orientation, “You’d be amazed what your children will do for a gumball.”
Unless you started reading biographies of gedolim since infancy to your children, most of them are not so keen on staying in shul for all of davening.  I can’t blame them.  Most rabbis that I spoken with or parenting shiurim I’ve listened to suggest letting a child stay in for “as much as they can handle”.  My son has been going to shul on Shabbos morning with me since he was 3.  He has, for the most part, been sitting with me, davening what he is comfortable davening, and until he was 10, going to groups.

On Shabbos I daven in a very nice hashkama minyan that regularly has between 45-60 halachic adult males, of which 3 are between 13-17.  This minyan isn’t a heavily kid populated (mostly because it’s at 7:30), but the minyan is very kid friendly.  Currently including my son there are about 5 other boys in 4th-6th grade.  We have davened there for almost 6 years my son has always left the beis midrash right before haftorah and then, if I’m lucky, resurfaced by Adon Olam.  About 5 weeks ago I made the observation to him that of the 6 boys in 4th-6th grade, there are 3 that come back in for musaf.  I asked him if he’d be interested in coming in for musaf and staying until the end of davening for 3 weeks and as a reward we’d go out for pizza, just he and I.

He agreed and after the second week of going out for haftorah and then returning before Ashrei, he actually stayed in for the haftorah and didn’t even leave.  B’li ayin hora, he has been staying in and doesn’t seem to mind.  Now, my son and his father are far from perfect, but we are both aware of what’s expected of us.