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You Shall Teach Them To your Children"

10/12/2015 09:12:36 AM

Oct12

“You shall teach them to your children” (Devarim 11:19)

Dear Friends,

On Shabbat I spoke about the importance of serving as role models for our children. I focused on two areas - coming to shul and reciting brachot before and after we eat - everyday at every meal.

Please follow this link to read the complete sermon.

Learning Torah with our children is another very important area where we should make great efforts. I began thinking about this idea this week as I read an important article by Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein entitled: On Raising Children. The entire article is incredibly valuable. I was particularly moved by these words.

“I come, indirectly, from Brisk and from Volozhin.  In Brisk, a very high value was attached to raising children, and particularly to raising them with the paramount values that epitomize this community, specifically, the analytic approach to study.  In Brisk, Reb Chaim did not have a yeshiva.  He started learning with his children, and people heard about it, so other people joined the group….

This is not a simple matter.  Chazal say this about Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) himself.  In Parashat Chukkat we read that Aharon’s sons succeed him in the priesthood, and in Parashat Pinchas, the daughters of Tzelofchad successfully inherited their father.  Moshe, upon seeing all this, assumed that his sons would inherit his position of leadership.  Therefore, he came to plead with God regarding his own successor... But this was not to be.  In a somewhat audacious midrash, God responds harshly: No; your sons sat idly and did not occupy themselves with Torah.  Yehoshua devoted himself to you and honored you; he would come early to the study hall and leave late; he arranged the benches and spread a canopy for shade. ..

The Gemara (Bava Batra 109b) goes even further: it states that Moshe Rabbeinu’s grandson and the latter’s children were idolatrous priests.  Moshe Rabbeinu’s grandson!  Far be it from me, God forbid, to judge Moshe Rabbeinu’s priorities; he clearly felt the whole weight of the Jewish people, the future of Jewish history, on his shoulders; but was it at the expense of Gershom and Eliezer?

The Rav (Rabbi Soloveitchik) once said that when one gets to Olam Ha-ba, he is going to be asked, “Based on what do you deserve entry to Olam Ha-ba?”  Personally, he mentioned three things, one of which was that he learned with his children.”

Many may think that they are not equipped to study Torah with their children as they themselves lack a strong background in Torah study. I believe that with the resources available today, everyone is capable of studying with their children. I also firmly believe that just the experience of learning together, regardless of the level or how much material is covered will result in a strong bonding experience on a level different from the more common parent child relationships.

These sessions will be the literal fulfillment of “You shall teach them to your children” (Devarim 11:19), as parents step into the most important role they have.

On Shabbat, either after dinner on Friday night or after lunch on shabbat (some like learning at the meal, but I prefer that special time be set aside for study) are great times to set aside 20 - 30 minutes to study with our kids.

Shabbat afternoon, between Mincha and Maariv at shul is also a good time. There are a number of families who use that time slot. Join them! It will also help our attendance at Shabbat Mincha.

If you have children living outside of your home, skype and facetime are great options.

Below is a list of a few resources that can help in this area. I am happy to speak to anyone who wishes to discuss this and work on a plan or find other resources.

I have no doubt that you will grow closer to your children as you bond with them over Torah study and your shared heritage.

I look forward to hearing about your plan.

Rabbi Gelman

Resources:

Parshat Hashavua / Weekly Torah Portion

  1. Unlocking The Torah Text - In this series, the author offers a brief summary of each weekly portion followed by a number of essay. Each essay starts with a few questions and offers a number of approaches to answer the questions. Each essay ends with a “Points To Ponder” section that offers a great opportunity for discussion. This series is appropriate for a wide range of ages (10+).

Halacha / Jewish Law

  1. You Be The Judge (3 volumes available). I love these books. They are great in terms of and introduction to basic sourcces of Jewish law and in  building an undersnding of how Jewish law works  From the Amazon.com description. “Here are real or realistic ethical problems that are submitted to the test of 'Jewish Law' in order to find 'the right solution.' This book contains more than fifty cases and the Jewish responses to each case. It is perfect for both the dinner table and the classroom. Here is a chance to share values, discuss ethics, and take a first look into the Talmud, the codes, and the wisdom of the Jewish legal process.” (Elementary / middle school)

Mishna

  1. Jewish Law Review (2 Volumes available)  - Using case studies, these volumes discuss the the origins and meaning of the laws contained in the Mishnah and analyzes cases from the section dealing with conflicts between individuals. Discusses the origins and meaning of the laws contained in the Mishnah and analyzes cases from the section dealing with conflicts between individuals. (elementary / middle school)

 

  1. Artscroll English Mishna - various volumes available on amazon.com . Try starting with tractates that are familiar with your children - (Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, Brachot). These editions offer extensive notes that you can make use of as is appropriate for your child (ren). Learning Mishna is appropriate for children as young as 1st or  2nd grade.

Thu, November 21 2019 23 Cheshvan 5780