top of page

The foundation of Chinuch Habonim

There is this dilemma that I’ve been tossing around my head for quite some time and I’ve yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation. My problem is this: Why is it that only my five year old son refuses to go to sleep at night until he’s had at least 2 drinks (he does me a favor by drinking water), a good story (which, of course, is usually never good or long enough), and not less than eight indignant questions on why the nine month old never has to brush his teeth (or should I say tooth)! And how come he’s the only five year old who’s always got ants in his pants in shul during davening, has a hard time keeping his shirt tucked in, and will, on occasion, throw himself on the ground and cry uncontrollably over the proportion of peas on his plate versus the amount of ketchup he was allotted?! Excuse me ……. what was that? You mean he’s not the only one?! Wow – wait till my wife hears about this!

While it’s true, children are the greatest gift a person can receive, raising them and being Mechanech them in the spirit of a Torah-true Jew is a daunting task in this day and age of moral abyss and intransigence. Today’s current events reads like a combination of tabloid trash, and the basest of incongruous ideas found anywhere on the New York Times best-seller list. And that’s just the headlines! Think about it, adults who have many important things on their mind – shopping lists, train schedules, remembering who’s chasunah they’re supposed to be attending on any given night in June, the four digit numeric code to shut off the alarm at 3:00 in the morning after yet another wire short-circuited – and yet consciously or not, bits and pieces of news tend to seep in and occupy space in an already overcrowded brain. Young children and impressionable pre-teens whose minds are open vessels that effortlessly absorb knowledge, it’s scary to think how much information penetrates, and with minimal understanding, how the sights and sounds are processed into their intelligence. It could take years before any reaction is forthcoming and by that time, it may be too late. So, what do we do – we who believe in the ideals of Torah and Mitzvos, of morals and ethics, who feel we know the meaning of “Family values” without the help of phony, patronizing politicians – to raise and guide our children in the spirit of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers before them?

Well, for starters we could look in the Chumash and learn a startling insight. Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to speak to the Bnei Yisroel and tell them “Kedoshim Tehiyu” – you should be holy, after which he proceeds to delineate particular laws which enable this lofty level of holiness. Among them: Sanctifying and observing Shabbos, bringing Korbonos – sacrifices in the Mishkan, serving the one true G-d and not false idols, as well as, more simplified commandments – do not steal, lie, pervert justice and hate a fellow Jew, rather “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. It is understood that if one were to keep to this code of conduct, accomplishing lofty ideals and basic acts of decency in unison, his conduct would reach a spiritual plateau – a “holiness” that is within every Jew. However, what seems a bit unusual is that in the Possuk, the first item mentioned is “Revering one’s mother and father”. Now, while honoring and revering parents is an obligation that needs no explanation – whether out of respect for their wisdom, love for their committment and painstaking energy for their children, or gratitude for always being there, through the thick and thin – it’s importance and fulfillment is clear and should never become burdensome. Still, when considering it on the “holiness scale”, it does not seem to be on par with the likes of Korbonos, entering the Mikdash in an unpure state, or the Parah Adumah – red heifer. Even the hallowed Mitzvah of “Loving thy neighbor as thyself”, is considered a “Klal Gadol” – a tremendous rule of the Torah. Why then, as Hashem enlightens us with the manner in which to raise our level of Kedushah, he specifically records the Mitzvah of “Revering one’s mother and father” first and foremost on this distinctive list?

I recently watched a show on anxiety that was aired on TV that I got from one of the common conditions in men that affect a sexual relationship. cialis tabs Despite of the fact that the heath care system of the U.K. and U.S. is quite advanced, the high cost of treatments has stimulated Europeans and Americans to opt for South East Asian countries. purchase cheap cialis pharmacy shop here A better option to fight against swelling is using anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric and ginger. buy tadalafil canada This is not buy viagra without rx a disease that can be cured suddenly with taking some medicine. The purpose of a Moshul – a parable, is to better explain a complex question or situation using down to earth, ordinary circumstances that even a simpleton could appreciate – and one is definitely in order here. Take for instance, an accomplished musician, a maestro on the piano or a violin virtuoso, whose risen to the top of his field and acclaimed by one and all. Now go back to when this person was a child. In many instances, we find that the parents were the driving force, the impetus behind their child’s success. At a very young age, in some cases even as a toddler, this child could be found with a violin in hand, playing a tune – which made audiences at first wince in pain or run for cover, but improving gradually in time – under the watchful eye of a beaming or nervous mother or father. All through his formative years, his parents were there to encourage, comfort and even threaten if need be, so that this young talent could blossom and eventually become the master artist and skilled musician that they knew he could and always wanted him to be. The same may true of an Olympic star athlete. Stories abound of how a baby, barely two years old, could practically ice-skate better than he walked, eventually growing up to become a gold-medalist. Or a young girl, pacifier in mouth and tennis racket in hand, became so proficient at her trade, that as a mere teenager was already considered the best in the world. When a parent teaches and nurtures a child from a very young age, at any particular trade, the amount of toil and effort that he or she will employ, more often than not, will yield positive results and in some instances the pinnacle of success.

The same could be said about Torah and Mitzvos. When we see a Talmid Chochom, a Rosh Yeshiva or the like, do we think about how he achieved this great level? Do we know how much effort his father and mother poured into him, how much Mesiras Nefesh they allowed so that their young son could one day grow up to be a Gadol B’Yisroel? As a child with a keen mind, his parents recognized that the potential lie within him and it would take their constant unflagging urging and encouragement to see him become what they want him to be. But not even in the case of a Rosh Yeshiva, the more effort that we put into making our own children love Torah and perform Mitzvos, the extreme effort that we employ to see to it that our children don’t, G-d forbid, stray from the proper Derech and grow to be fine upstanding Torah Jews, that is the level of Kedushah, of holiness, that our children will attain. This is what the Possuk is teaching us. Hashem wants all the Bnei Yisroel to be righteous and holy, to be “Kedoshim”, and therefore shows us what code of conduct is absolutely necessary to get there. However, before any of that can happen, in order for a Yid to attain this goal, the vehicle or means necessary to bring about this accomplishment of austere character and allow him or her to pursue a life of true spiritual Kedushah, is the efforts, exertions, dedication and nurturing of a devoted mother or father who pursue for each individual child, what our collective father in Heaven wants for his children – to be an “Am Kadosh” – a holy nation. That is why the Mitzvah of “Revering one’s mother or father” is foremost on the list of “Kedushah causing” and “holiness helping” ideas, for if parents will do all they can, over and beyond the normal call of duty, to insure that their children will walk down the path of just and righteousness, all the seemingly “holier” Mitzvos – Learning Torah, keeping Shabbos, moral values, etc. – will surely follow suit.

The stories of Gedolim whose parents fasted, prayed and cried buckets of tears in the hope that their children will grow to be great leaders of Yisroel, are all familiar, and to some extent, we all attempt this noble and inspiring objective ourselves. But as we know, everything in life is Bashert and a person can do all that is in his power, but must eventually yield to the will of Hashem. Whether a parent is successful or not in raising a child is ultimately up to our father in Heaven. However, before discouragement and indifference settle in, just remember that the aspirations and goals that a parent has for the greatness of their child, as well as the effort and exertion employed, does make a difference and will ultimately propel their child. For Chazal assure us in no uncertain terms that “B’derech sh’adam Rotseh Laylech ……” – On the path of life that a person wishes to walk, Hashem will lead him along that specific course, will allow his true inner feelings and dreams, either good or bad, to materialize, and enable all the hard work expended on one’s children, to bear fruit and blossom into success.

Comments


bottom of page