Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: AVODAH Category:CHANOCH L'NAAR Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Rav Zalman Sorotzkin - The Hardest Challenge in Chinuch, When Everyone Does It!

Parshas Emor begins with the prohibition of Kohanim to defile themselves to a dead body. Hashem tells this to Moshe in a unusual language, first saying "אמור אל הכוהנים", say to the Kohanim, and then once again, "ואמרת אליהם" say to them. Rashi says this redundant language is to tell the Kohanim that they must watch over their children as well. This rule of Chinuch applies to all Mitzvos in the Torah, so why does the Torah teach this to us specifically by the mitzva of Tumas Kohanim?

It is said over in the name of Rav Zalman Sorotzkin that Chinuch is not a difficult task. When a parent teaches a child right from wrong, it becomes quite obvious to the child that we are special people and we should not act like the non-Jews who have no boundaries. For whom is Chinich truly difficult? For the Kohanim. Why? Every parent has heard, when trying to teach his child right from wrong, something to the effect of, "But so and so's father lets him do it, and his father is a Rosh Yeshiva!"

For the Kohanim the task of Chinuch is very difficult. The Kohen is telling his child that he cannot do things that are permitted for the other children in his class. If being in the same room as a dead body is so defiling, how is it that best boys in his class can do it and it doesn't affect them in any negative way?

Here also the Torah commands us that even when the child has a hard time grasping the concept, we must still teach our children right from wrong. And moreover since they do not understand, it is incumbent upon us as parents to guard them even more carefully.

Sat, 25 Apr 2015 03:00:00 +0000
The Secret of Two Candles To Good Children

The gemara (Shabbos 23b) says, "הרגיל בנר הווין ליה בנים תלמידי חכמים". One who religiously fulfills the mitzva of the candles will merit children who are Talmidei Chachomim. Rashi says "Ner" means Ner Shabbos and Ner Chanukah. What is the connection between these Neiros and good children?

Rav Avrohom Abba Weingart (Gachalei Eish on Hagadas Sridei Eish) explains that Ner Shabbos and Ner Chanukah come to address two fundamental different issues. Ner Shabbos is the symbol of Shalom Bayis. It represents a person's attitude and behavior behind the closed doors of his private life. How much light he shines in his own home speaks volumes of his behavior when he is not on the public stage and drops his guard. Ner Chanukah on the other hand is all about Pirsumei Nisa, the face that one shows to the public.

In order for a person to properly raise his children, he must radiate both these two faces. If he puts on a righteous public demeanor, yet doesn't live up to it in his own home, while he may fool himself and the whole world, his children will not be fooled. On the other hand if he acts as a true Ben Torah in his own home, but in public he is embarrassed to show his true face and adapts himself to the level of society around him, his children will get the impression that the Torah lifestyle is something to be ashamed of, and will not choose it as their own path in life.

With these two lights, the light of Shabbos which is the light of a fine home, as well as the light of Chanukah which proudly projects its own light onto a dark world, one is assured that his children will grow to be true Bnei Torah and exemplary Jews.

Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Eliyahu Dessler - The Child Within Us As Pesach is a time to instill true emunah into our children, the entire Haggadah is a textbook on how educate children. The format is question and answer and every step along the way we do things to try to coax the children to ask by themselves. We bring many props like Matza and Marror and we try to relive the story, attempting to take the children back to the excitement of leaving Mitzrayim.

That being the case, asks Rav Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav MeiEliyahu 4:249),why if there are no children must we still conduct our seder in this pedagogical manner? Why say the Mah Nishtanah and not just delve into the story? Why must accomplished Talmidei Chachomim and even Gedolei HaDor who hold a Seder amongst themselves perform the Seder in this childish manner? Why must we ask ourselves the Mah Nishtanah if we are making a Seder alone?

Rav Dessler answers that Seder night is not simply an intellectual exercise. Seder night is meant to internalize the emunah that we learn from Yetzias Mitzrayim. The lessons must be taken to heart and change the way we lead our lives and navigate he world through the prism of emunah.

True that in our intellect we are all Chachomim, says Rav Dessler, but our hearts are Am Haratzim. Our lives are led by our immature heart. In order to teach our childish heart we must teach it like we teach children asking the questions and showing the answers. In this way we hope that we can finally grow up and lead our lives on the same level that we intellectually know we should.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 03:00:00 +0000 The torah tells us in Parshas Mishpatim that both a child who hits or curses his parent is chayav misa.  Rav Shimon Schwab asks how is it that a child can possibly fall to such a level where he would do such a terrible act?  He also asks why these two pasukim are separated by a pasuk in between that says that if you kidnap a person you are chayavmisa.

He answers that the gemara says in Kedushin (30a) that a person must rebuke his son while he still has a tight grip around his neck which either until the age of 22 or 24.  Afterwards he must stop because the child will no longer accept it.  If the parents continue to try to control him beyond that point it would be considered like forced slavery.  This can cause him to rebel and hit or curse his parents.

This is why, says Rav Schwab, the torah put the pasuk of "Goneiv Ish", stealing a person squarely between hitting or cursing.  True the child is in the wrong and will pay for it with his life, yet the cause of it all still lies with the parent who did not listen to the advice of Chazal.

A friend recently told me that someone asked Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman what to do with a child that talks chutzpadik to his parents.  Rav Aharon Leib answered that by nature a child would never do such a thing unless confronted with too much pressure and no way out. Embarrassingly I did a quick review of my recent confrontations and told my friend that from what I can remember I can testify to the truth of that statement in my own life.  Oy! the fine line that parents have to tread nowadays, are getting finer by the day.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus - The Soothing Effect Of Violent Stories One of the biggest issues today in raising children is the violence that they see all around them in various forms of media and entertainment.  Studies show that when the images of violence is decreased so is the violent tendencies of the children. Interestingly, if you looked objectively at the chinuch we give our children, you would expect our children to be wound up and violent.  Children start Chumash with Vayikra and some good old fashioned animal sacrifice.  Then comes Kayin killing his brother Hevel, death and destruction in Sedom, more war, more violence, and then of course the ten big brothers ganging up on the little one and throwing him into a pit.

Why asks, Rav Shimshon Pincus, do we not find kids coming home from Cheider and throwing their little brothers out the window?  The answer to this question is beyond logic, just like the Chochmas HaTorah is beyond human comprehension.  But the facts speak for themselves and the statistic don't lie.  A Cheider boy who is wild is never the one who pays the most attention in class.  The ones who hang on every word of these violent stories are usually the most relaxed and refined.  If this is not proof that every word of torah is infused with the spirit of Hashem, then i don't know what is.

So if you are looking to raise a real mentch who will treat people with respect and be kind to his wife and kids, remove some of modern society's harsher influences from his daily routine and when you come home at night don't forget to Chazer with him Parsha Vayeishiv.

Wed, 14 Dec 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Toldos: Ben ish Chai - Yitzchok's Love For Eisav

Was Yitzchok actually fooled by Eisav's exterior Tzidkus as the pasuk seems to indicate? Certainly not, says the Ben Ish Chai. Yitzchok knew exactly what Eisav was all about. So why does the Torah single out his love for Eisav over Yaakov, as opposed to Rivka who loved Yaakov?

The Ben Ish Chai teaches us two important lessons in Chinuch from Yitzchok's attitude. He says that Yitzchok loved Eisav for the two reasons that written in the Pasuk (Toldos 25:28). First "Ki Tzayid B'Fiv", because all of Eisav's tzidkus was merely to impress his father. Although Yitzchok was not at all taken in by this show, nevertheless he showered Eisav with love in response, on order that Eisav should at least outwardly act the part. Had he unmasked Eisav, Eisav would have no reason play the game and would act like the Rasha that he was. Yitzchok wanted to salvage what he can.

The second reason Yitzchok showed love to Eisav, says the Ben Ish Chai, is because of the end of the pasuk, "V'Rivka Oheves Es Yaakov". Rivka did not play any games. She loved Yaakov the Tzaddik and was happy to give him all her love at the expense of the despicable Eisav. Because of this, Yitzchok was afraid that if he too would outwardly favor Yaakov, Yaakov's life would be endangered as Eisav would seek revenge. Therefore Yitzchok balanced Rivka's love for Yaakov with his own love for Eisav.

Raising children is not easy, and much thought and Daas Torah needs to be put into not only our actions but our emotions as well.

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Eikev: Ben Ish Chai - A Father Tinged With Bitterness "Ki Kasher Yiyaser Ish Es Bino Hashem Elokecha Miyasrecha", like a man punishes his son Hashem punishes us (Eikev 8:5). Hashem punishes us out of love of a father trying to help his son and not to hurt him. The Ben Ish Chai asks, shouldn't it say the word "Av" father, instead of the word "Ish" a man?

He answers that even a father, who punishes his son for the son's own good, has to a certain degree his own personal agenda. A wayward son is an embarrassment to the father who raised him. Yes he wants to help his son, but he also is angered by the way he is perceived by others as a bad parent. His punishment is tinged with a trace of bitterness for his shattered dreams of raising perfect children.

Hashem does not punish us like an insulted father. He punishes us like an "Ish", a perfectly objective observer of what is good for us, and nothing else.

When dealing with our children, it is incumbent on us to to probe deeply within ourselves and ask, what is for the good of the child, and what am I really doing for my own good.

Thu, 18 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Shela HaKadosh - Good Children Are Not Raised On One Tefila A Year Yom Kippur Katan Chodesh Sivan is the big day for davening for our children's hatzlacha according to the Shela HaKadosh.  His famous tefila is readily available as are tzedaka opportunities enabling you to boost the effects of your tefilos with a donation.  But like everything else that we grab onto for dear life, this is the easy part.  The Shela had lots more to say about raising good children other than paying lip service and writing a yearly check and I am sure today's gedolim would agree.  In fact his entire Sefer from which he earned his name the Shela (Shnei Luchos HaBris), was written as a guide to his children when he left home for Eretz Yisroel.  

Here are a few highlight from he writes in Shaar HaOsiyos, Os Dalet - Derech Eretz.

Tefila - Tefila for your children should always be on your lips.  You should daven for them to grow into Lomdei Torah, Tzaddikim, and Ba'alei Middos.  You should have intense Kavana for this when saying Birchas HaTorah every morning, as well as by the bracha of Ahava Rabba, and also in U'Va L'Tziyon by the words "Lo Niga Larik V'Lo Neileid LaBehala".

Speech - A parent must be exceedingly careful not to speak about inappropriate things in front of his child.  Even though it is never advisable, certainly one should be extra cautious when a his child is present.  You should also highly praise the good actions of others before your child so that the child will understand what is valued in your eyes and will do the same in order to gain your favor.

Mussar - A father must always reproach his child's bad behavior.  However if the father is not always around then it is incumbent on the mother to do so, despite that women are softer by nature.  A women is obligated to reproach her child just like a man is.  A Remez for this is the pasuk in Eicha (4:10) "Yidei Nashim Rachmanios Bishlu Yaldeihem", the hand of the compassionate mother (which refuses to hit her wayward child), is responsible for "cooking" the child and essentially killing his neshama.

Benefits - Raise your child well because he can save you from Gehinom and lead you to Gan Eden with his torah and mitzvos.  The Seforim Hakedoshim say, "Bra Mizakeh Abba" a son merits his father.  By not raising him properly you are in double trouble.  Firstly he will not save you from Gehinom and secondly you cannot save him in Olam Haba just like Avrohom couldn't save Yishmael and Yitzchok could not save Eisav.  The only place a father can bail out his child is in Olam HaZeh with his material wealth.

Middos - A person must instill good middos in his child from his youth.  He must stop the child from swearing, cursing, anger, cruelty, haughtiness, arrogance and stubbornness, jealousy, hatred, lust, leitzanus, and lashon hara.

So say your tefilos today but don't forget about the above, or else the Shela does not give any guarantees.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 03:00:00 +0000
When Our Children Return How Quick Do We Accept Them?

If a farm animal gives birth on Yom Tov and the mother takes no interest in the newborn offspring, the gemara (Shabbos 128b) says that we can take pity on this newborn and take specific steps to get the mother to pity and care for her offspring. The gemara says that this only applies to a kosher animal and not to a non-kosher animal. Why not? The gemara says that non-kosher animals pity their offspring and do not cast them away. However once they do cast them away, they never accept them back again. A kosher animal will more easily cast its child away but is willing to take it back with a little encouragement from the side.

Maybe, b'derech drush, we can draw a parallel between this and a kosher parent and non-kosher parent. A kosher parent cares deeply about their child. However the parent has a definite non-negotiable framework for what is acceptable and what is not. A parent wants to raise Yirei Shamayim and that is the reason for the parent's efforts. If a child crosses the line the parent may ignore their own feelings and cast their child aside as a failure. A non-kosher parent knows only of love to their child and a relationship with Hashem does not come into the equation. As the child veers from the path of acceptability, the parent, because of feelings for their child will move the red line to adopt to the child's behavior and rarely will ever get to the breaking point unless it becomes too much for the parent to bear personally.

When a parent does cut the cord and castaway the child, it is the kosher parent that will always leave the door open. After all the schism was not for personal reasons. When the child retreats a few steps backwards and comes back, the kosher parent will be waiting with open arms. With a non-kosher parent, once the line is crossed, it is crossed forever. It is personal and no remorse or reform can remove the incredible pain that the child inflicted on their parent.

The joyous day, the "Yom Tov" that the child comes back, will determine whether we were kosher parents and truly gave the best chinuch we could, or we were non-kosher parents, and did everything only for ourselves.

Tue, 24 May 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Titzaveh: Keeping You Kids On The Straight And Narrow

The pasuk says (Titzaveh 30:6), that the Mizbei'ach HaKitores should be before the Paroches and before the Kapores which is on the Aron. Rashi says that if it only said before the paroches I would think it could be pulled towards the north side or the south side, when it say before the kapores that means that it must be dead center. The Iturei Torah brings that the Vayakhel Moshe asks why would we think that the Mizbei'ach Kitores should be drawn towards one side?

He explains that the three keilim in the Heichal Shulchan, Menora, and Mizbei'ach represent wealth, wisdom, and children respectively. The Shuchan was in the north and the Menora in the south. The remez of the pasuk is that when it comes to educating your child you should not have him drawn towards the side of wealth nor should he focus directly on achieving wisdom. He should be balanced between the two, but most importantly facing exactly opposite the Aron Kodesh, the source of Torah and mitzvos. Then the children will come out smelling like Kitores.''

Similarly the Baalei Mussar say that Avrohom taught Chesed and Yshmael came out of him. Yitzchok taught Gvura and an Eisav emerged. Yaakov taught Torah and raised twelve perfect sons.

Fri, 11 Feb 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Truma: Rav Moshe Feinstein - One Way In The Mikdash, Many Ways With Our Children

"K'Chol Asher Ani Mareh Oischa" (Truma 25:9). The Mishkan must be built to the exact specification that Hashem told Moshe, with the exact materials and precise measurements. Rashi comments that this pasuk is connected to the one above it that says, "V'Asu Li Mikdash V'Shachanti B'Socham", they shall make for me a Mikdash and I will dwell among them." What is Rashi teaching us here?

Rav Moshe Feinstein in Drash Moshe says that there are two place of Hashra'as HaShechina. One is in the Bais HaMikdash, a house make of wood and stone. That building must be made to exact specifications. In addition there is also Hashra'as HaShechina in every Yiddishe heart and home.

Rashi is telling us that when the pasuk says that the dwelling place of Hashem must be precisely according to a script, it is only referring to the Bais HaMikdash and not the heart of home. When it comes to our own kedusha or the chinuch of our children there is no one size that fits all. We must understand our own abilities and talents and those of our children. Then we can chart a course that will work from both the side of the parent and child. There are many paths, but they all reach the same destination of Kirva to Hashem and the Torah.

Tue, 01 Feb 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsch - Like A New Rabbi In Town

Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsch said that an experienced Rav who served in many kehilos one told him as follows. I once came to be Rav in a new town. There were good people who wanted to make sure I got off on the right foot and offered to help me. They brought mew a list of the key people in the town with a short description of what they were like so that I would know how to deal with them. They were well intentioned so I thanked them but politely refused to look at the list.

A Rav must know that not looking at such a list will help him deal better with all the people and positively influence them. It is better that I truly believe that each person is at his core a good person, wants to do the right thing, and is a mentch. When the people see that this is what I think of them they will play the role, and as I become close to each one of them, they will really try to act like that and it will eventually become their nature.

This says Rav Shamshon Rephael Hirsch is a basic fundamental of effective Chinuch. "Woe is to the teacher and woe is to the student when the teacher has already judged him unfavorably." Not only must a teacher or parent show the child he believes in him, he must really believe it himself or else he has no chance to change him. Any deviant behavior should be confronted with surprise and the child be told that this is not normal for him. Surely not to label him and berate him as one who typically behaves in this fashion. (Avnei Choshen - Mabat Chiyuvi)

Mon, 03 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayechi - Must Parents Pay For Their Children's Actions? Ben Kara D'Avuha, a son is the extension of his father, chazal tell us.  A child can raise his father from Gehinom to Gan Eden with good deeds and also send his father to Gehinom with his bad deeds. Does this mean we responsible for everything our children do?

Yaakov tells Shimon and Levi in his final rebuke to them (Vayechi 49:6), B'Sodam Al Tavo Nafshi B'Kihalam Al Teichad Kivodi. Rashi explains that Yaakov said he did not want to be shamed with his name used in connection with Zimri or with Korach, and indeed his name is not mentioned while tracing the roots of these sinners.

Two questions arise. Firstly based on what was his wish adhered to by the Torah. On what merit did he deserve to have his name obscured and unblemished by his descendants actions? Secondly, why did Yaakov mention this now on his death bed. Wasn't this the time to rebuke Shimon and Levi rather than worry about his own posterity?

Maybe the answer lies in this Yesod. A son is an extension of his father to the extent that his actions are traced to the chinuch his parent gave him, either directly, by example, by omission or as a result of negligent care. Anything that goes totally against what the parents stood and tried their best to prevent surely does not tarnish the parent's record.

Yaakov was rebuking Shimon and Levi. He told them that they both possess within them a bad middah. This middah was not to be found anywhere within Yaakov or the upbringing he gave them. If this is not corrected and the ominous future is ultimately played out, declared Yaakov, know that you will be the the original link. The heritage of this middah does not extend to me, and I will not be mentioned by the Torah in connection with it in any way.

Thu, 16 Dec 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayeishev - How To Make Your Child Smart The pasuk says about Yosef that he was Yaakov's Ben Zikunim. Literally this means the child born in his old age. Yet Targum Unkelus chooses to veer from the literal meaning and translates it as "Bar Chakim", his wise son. Why does Unkelus do this?

The Chinuch Malchusi explains that baby of the family usually gets the most love. The older children must endure the father's vision and his desire to raise the ideal child, the child of his dreams. When they fall short they pay the price and become a disappointment to their parents.

Not so the baby who is often treated more like a grandchild than a child, as he is overloaded with love and affection. Reality has set in, expectations are lowered, and age has softened the staff of the parents. The parents learn how to appreciate the good in the child, a thing that a well seasoned parent no longer takes for granted.

In this environment the child can flourish. His mind is at ease and his emotional needs satisfied. "Do not hit a child too much", says Rabbeinu Gershon (Bava Basra 21a). "No one ever got smarter from being beaten." With love you can do so much more!

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayeitzei: Steipler Gaon - When Your Whole Dream Is Less Bad

Rashi (Vayeitzei 29:11) brings Chazal who say that Yaakov cried when he saw Roche because he came empty handed without gifts. The reason was because Elifaz was commanded by his father Eisav to kill Yaakov, but since Elifaz was a talmid of Yitzchok he reached a compromise where he left Yaakov penniless which is considered like dead.

The Shnayim Mikra brings in the name of the Steipler Gaon that we see an important lesson from here. Yitzchok invested a great deal of time teaching Elifaz the son of Eisav. For what? So that he will only be a Ganav and not a murderer. The lesson is do not give up on those who are destined to lead lives contrary to the Torah. Even if your teaching can at best minimize the aveiros that he will commit it is still worth it!

Mon, 08 Nov 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Haazina: Ben Ish Chai - Talk To The Sky But Speak To The Ground

"Haazinu HaShamayim VaAdabeira V'Sishma HaAretz Imrei Fi",pay attention Heaven to my words while I speak, listen earth to the words off my mouth. The Ben Ish Chai says that while Moshe spoke to both the heaven and earth, there was a difference in how he spoke to them. Moshe spoke directly to the heaven but he told to earth to listen in on what he is saying.

When a person wants to give mussar to someone, often that person does not want to listen. It is best not to speak to him directly for he will reject your words. It always feels too harsh when spoken to directly. It feels like a personal assault and it triggers a defense mechanism.

It is more effective to talk to someone who is innocent of the offense that you are giving mussar for. The guilty party should "overhear" your conversation. This way he can take the words at face value and not as a personal attack. Then there is a chance he will pay attention and take it to heart.

Shamayim represents the Tzaddikim, those who aspirations and actions are heavenly. Earth are the people who are stuck in Gashmiyos and cannot lift themselves up in spirituality. Haazinu HaShamayim VaAdabeira, Moshe spoke harsh words to the Shamayim, as is implied by the use of the harsh term "Dibur". However his goal was V'Sishma HaAretz Imrei Fi, the earthly people should overhear his words his "Amira", and take them to heart, reacting to them as soft spoken gentle guidance.

Sun, 05 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Chidushei HaRim Cries Over The Death Of His Thirteenth Child
The Chiddushei HaRim of Ger lost 13 children in his lifetime l"a.  The last one he lost was his Bechor, Rav Avrohom Mordechai, the father of the Sfas Emes.  After his death, the Chiddushei HaRim was unconsolable, crying without stop.  

Seeing that it was getting out of hand, one of the people close to him came to him and said, "Rebbe, if this is how you act, what is this teaching all of your Chasidim?"  The Chiddushei HaRim replied, "What do you think, I am crying over, Din Shamayim?  If I wanted I could have made sure he remained alive but I don't tell Hashem what to do.  If that is what Hashem wants then so be it.  I am His, and everything I have belongs to Him."

"If so why do you cry so much", asked the Chosid?  "I am crying because until now I had a Mitzva of "V'Shinantam L'Vanecha", to teach my children Torah (VaEschanan 6:7).  I had one son remaining with whom I was able to do this Mitzva.  Now this entire Mitzva has been taken from me and therefore I cry." (Chinuch Malchusi)

The Chiddushei HaRim cried over the mitzva that he could not do without a son.  If we do not learn Torah with our children, then what do we have them for?

Thu, 22 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Slonimer Rebbe - Why Were The Talmidim Scared To Disobey Him?
The Nesivos Sholom Rav Sholom Noach Berezovsky, was from the great Mechanchim of the previous generation as his life and his Sefer Nesivos HaChinuch testify.  He was master Mechanech and beloved by all.  One time when he was a Rosh Yeshiva in Chabad, the Mashgiach asked him, how is it that all the boys that you have total control over the boys and they don't dare disobey your every command?

The Nesivos Sholom said that he loves every talmid with Ahavas HaNefesh, even the least desirable among them.  "I don't scream at them and I don't punish them" he said.  "I love them so much and the greatest punishment for them would be to lose my love.  That is something that they fear greatly, and therefore they behave."  His example should shed light on the world.  Yehi Zichro Boruch!

Sun, 18 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bahaloscha: Rav Levi Yitzchok Of Berditchev - A Favorite Child? "VaEtna Es HaLevi'im Nesunim L'Aharon" (Bahaloscha 8:19). Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to set aside the Levi'im and make them Kadosh. Rashi points out that in this pasuk it says the words Bnei Yisroel five times! By mentioning their name repeatedly, explains Rashi, Hashem is showing His love for Klal Yisroel. Why does Hashem need to show his love for Klal Yisroel in this pasuk?

Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev in Kedushas Lavi explains that when a person chooses one particular thing from among many it shows that he likes that one more than the others. In this case Hashem separated the Levi'im from among the rest of Klal Yisroel and gave them a special role. It may appear to some that Hashem loves Bnei Levi and not the rest of Bnei Yisroel, Chas V'Shalom. Therefore in this pasuk, Hashem is particular to mention the name of Bnei Yisroel no less than five times to show that he loves all of Klal Yisroel. It is precisely because of Hashem's love for Bnei Yisroel that He separated Bnei Levi .

The Levi'im were chosen not because they are any more loved but rather to serve in the role of being Michaper (to atone for the sins of )on Bnei Yisroel.

Often times a parent must choose a child for a particular role. Regardless of the role or the reason why the parent chose that child, the mere fact that one child is singled out by the parent and given something unique can create bitterness amongst the other siblings who feel snubbed. We can learn from our Father in Shamayim that when we are forced to make a move like this we should be sensitive to the feelings of the other children even if they are unjustified. We must explain the special treatment and at the same time shower the others with extra love to show them that they are equally loved.

Sun, 23 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bichukosai: Rav Chaim Zaitchek - When Children Are Responsible For Their Parents Aveiros In the Tochacha it says (Bichukosai 26:40), "V'Hisvadu Es Avonam V'Es Avon Avosam", they will say Vidui for their aveiros and the aveiros of their fathers.  Why do we need to do tshuva for the aveiros of our parents?

Rav Chaim Zaitchek answers that there are aveiros that our fathers commit are caused by us.   Children, young and old alike, want things and make excessive demands on their parents.  Can we have this?  Can we do that?  Although the obvious answer is no, since we don't take "no" for an answer so easily we continue to ask and demand, wearing our parent down until they capitulate and agree to exactly what it is they know they should not agree to.  They know that it is bad for the children and bad for them, yet they cannot withstand the relentless pressure.

Sometimes this leads to spoiled children, sometimes it cause financial stress on the parents who can't even afford it.  Sometimes demands from the children take away time that the father should spend developing his own personal ruchniyos.  In severe cases it can cause the father to resort to taking out loans and financial ruin.  This can lead to dishonesty in business and stealing.

Al this because the children didn't care about the trouble they were causing while they bulldozed their way into obtaining their demands from their parents using any available tactic.  For this their will be a day of reckoning when the children will need to account for their actions.  Stand strong and do what's right.  You'll save yourself and your children!

Thu, 06 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Michanech V'Sheretz BiYado - The Difference Between Chinuch And Chicken Pox "No" is one of the hardest words a parent must tell their child, especially since kids can be pretty stubborn and don't give up so fast.  There are two schools of thought on how to deal with keeping your kids away from things they should not have.  The old school says to tell them no and, bring what it may, too bad.  However nowadays some people claim that it is better in the long run to give them what they want in small doses to curb their fire, and then wean them later as they mature.  This is like vaccinations, where you inject into a child a low dose of the disease that the body can easily combat, and then when the disease strikes for real, in full force, the child's immunity system already knows how to deal with.

This argument sounds to me (I am not a professional Michanech although I have consulted with them) like a 21st century Bubba Meisa borne out of an unwillingness to stand up to the challenges that our children present us with.  Chazal teach us the concept of "Tovel V'Sheretz BiYado", going to the mikva does not purify you if the tumah is in your hand all the while.  Why don't we ask ourselves, "Michanech V'Sheretz BiYodo?", how can we be Michanech children against things that we ourselves have already placed in their hands?

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was once asked how we can answer the criticism of the Satan who boasts that our enemies are willing to strap on bombs and blow themselves to bits and pieces for their ideals, while we are not?  He answered that the Yetzer Hara is the one driving them, while we are driven by the Yetzer Tov. In our case the latter is no match for the prior.

When you inject a child with a small dose of disease, the body rejects it and goes into high gear to rid itself of the disease.  When you give a child something that is not good for them that they themselves desire, their system accepts it gladly and it fuels a demand for even more.  Even in the medical world a vaccination can go wrong and cause the very disease it is meant to prevent.  Surely in our frail spiritual world the small dose of a bad thing given to the child will almost be guaranteed to lead to the full blown disease.

When it comes to introducing children to things that have the danger to stay with them for a lifetime, every day counts.  The younger the child is when introduced, the harder it will be to break the habit.  Even if you will not ultimately win the battle, as outside influences will introduce things to your children, nevertheless every day counts.  It is worth battling day in and day out until the day you lose.  It will make a huge difference later in life when the child finally comes around and wants to cut away from his past habits.  The more ingrained from an earlier age, the harder it is to detach even with the strongest desire and motivation.  There are many versions of a story in which the punch line is that the great Rosh Yeshiva Rav Chaim Pinchos Sheinberg Shlit"a who didn't stop learning for a second since his late teenage years, boasted in his mid 90's that he finally got over his favorite baseball team.  How many decades did he work tirelessly to erase this part of his past from his heart until the job was finally complete?

One last point to consider.  We do not control the destiny of our children.  Each person that is created has their own bechira and no parent is a master over it.  We are obligated to raise our children in the best way possible and teach them right from wrong as the Torah dictates.  That is our job period.  If we do it BeEmuna and set a good personal example we will be amply rewarded regardless of the results.  

On the day that we stand before our Creator and He asks us why our children do something inappropriate, would you rather be blamed that he acquired it elsewhere because you were too overzealous in saying no, or do you want to try to explaining that you yourself gave it to him thinking that this would be the best way for him to grow out of it?

Mon, 26 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The "Burden" Heaved Upon A Brand New Teenager Are the Taryag Mitzvos a burden?  How do we plop them all at once on a thirteen year old adolescent and punish him for disobedience as we do a seasoned veteran?  The last Mishna in Makos says that Hashem gave us so many commandment because He wants to help us.  Wouldn't it have been easier if there were less obligations and restrictions.  Chabakuk (Makos 24a) condensed the Mitzvos down to one, Emunah.  What happened to the rest?

Maybe we can explain with a Mashal.  A person decided to take a trek to a faraway paradise beyond forests, deserts, mountains, and across vast oceans.  He buys a manual detailing the items he will need for the journey to this exotic location.  The list is endless.  He needs months of food supplies, tons of equipment to deal with all the natural elements along the way, and a long list of dos and don't at each point along the way.  He reads it with great trepidation.  How can he manage?  How can he carry the burden?

But there is another way to get there.  Someone built a paved road that goes through normal civilization.  While this road is also very long, it does not need the provisions that the first route requires.  There are places all along the road to buy food.  Equipment is not necessary, and the restrictions are still the same but do not pose any relevant danger since he is not traveling through dangerous terrain.

The Mitzvos are our supplies on the road towards Dveikus B'Hashem.  We could not get there without them.  This is not a burden on thirteen year old, it is his supply kit and lifeline for his journey.  If a person lacks emuna, his life towards dveikus is a difficult path.  Each mitzva is a burden.  They don't make sense, they are not fun, and the minute details are a real pain.  The journey is so difficult that life outside his route looks so much more appealing and we constantly desires to veer astray from the path to live a better life.  We get lost and forget where we are headed and why.  Performing the mitzvos that are vital to us and avoiding the wrong turn at each fork in this wilderness makes our journey impossibly difficult.

If we chooses the path of emuna, the mitzvos will not be a burden.  They will come natural to us along the way and be a pleasure to perform.  The prohibitions of the Torah will not be a temptation to us as we travel along a beautiful path and do not care to veer from the road.

The mitzvos are a Bar Mitzva present from Hashem.  We must take them and run along the path to true soul penetrating and inspiring Avodas Hashem.  If we take the path of emuna our journey will be delightful and our legs light as deer's as we prance joyfully down the road to paradise.

Mon, 15 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayakhel: Take Along Junior For The Ride "Heivi'u Bnei Yisroel Nidava Lashem", Bnei Yisroel brought a Nidava to Hashem (Vaykhel 35:29).  Heivi'u is a plural Lashon.  They did not come alone.  But who did they come with?  Rav Mordechai Hominer (Chinuch Malchusi) writes that they came with the children so that the children will learn what it means to do a mitzva and see it put to action by their parents.

Very often we are eager to take our children to their childish places, but when we go to our own business, our own business of mitzvos we prefer to leave them home because they are a nuisance.  When we go to bake Matzos they need to be warned not to go to close to the oven or bother the people baking.  When we buy Aba Minim we don't want to pay for the most expensive esrog whose pitom they have broken.  When we build a Succah we don't want them to nail us in forehead.

The Torah teaches us that it is a wonderful chinuch opportunity to take them with you and let them either participate in your mitzva when possible and if not at least come along for the ride.  Even just witnessing your mitzva can leave a deep impression on them that will pay dividends years down the road.  Of course it will take prior planning to make sure it doesn't turn into a disaster, but with a little intelligence and a bit more patience it can be done and should be done.  It is a Chinuch opportunity they should not miss.

Mon, 08 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Mishpatim: Ben Ish Chai - Why The Innocent Children Suffer People wonder, says the Ben ish Chai, how a child so innocent and pure can be stricken with severe handicaps R"L.  What did these little children ever do wrong to deserve such a difficult future?  Have they ever sinned?  However he says, intelligent people understand that these children are gilgulim from previous lifetimes who have come correct their past errors.  They pleaded with Hashem to curtail their power to sin once again.  They are the ones who requested the impairment so that they cannot make the same mistakes again in this lifetime.  Then at the end of their stay on earth they finally release their excess baggage and are free to go to the place in Shamayim they rightfully deserve.

This is hinted in the Pasuk, "V'Chi Yakeh Ish Es Ein Avdo O Es Ein Amaso V'Shichasa Lachofshi Yishalchenu", If a man strikes the eye of his slave, or the eye of his female slave, and destroys it, he shall set him free (Mishpatim 21:26).  The man here, says the Ben ish Chai, is Hashem.  If He strikes someone's eye and sends him to the world blind, guaranteeing he will never sin with his eyes, then when it is all over he will finally be set free.

Similarly, says the Ben iSh Chai, the next pasuk says, "V'Im Shain Avdo O Shain Amaso Yapil".  Shain here can mean Shanim or years.  If Hashem cuts down a young child in his youth, having his many years fall by the wayside, you must know that "Lachofshi Yishalchenu", Hashem sent him away for his own good.

Thu, 11 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Zaitchek - For Maximum Effect Say Your Piece And Disappear After Moshe told Paroh the devastating repercussions of Makas Arbeh, and before giving Paroh a chance to speak, the Torah says (Bo 10:6) "VaYifen Vayeitzei Mei'Im Paroh", Moshe turned and left without giving Paroh a chance to comment.  The Medrash Rabba says that Moshe Rabbeinu saw Paroh's men looking at each other in a way that showed they believed what he said, and therefore he left.  If he thought he finally got through to them why did he leave?

Rav Chaim Zaitchek says that often when a person tells a person that he did something wrong, even if the person knows that what was told to him is the truth, he will reject the rebuke if only to show that the person was not right.   A person is more willing to admit mistake and change if it is a product of his own decision and not thrust upon him by someone else.  If his admission of failure will give the other person victory, he will cling to his wrong ways for dear life, even if he knows it is wrong and harmful.

The most effective way of giving mussar is by making the person feel that it was his own revelation and change will come from within, based on his own accord, and not because he is submitting to the knowledge and experiencing of his rebuker.  As soon Moshe saw that Paroh's men grasped what was happening he disappeared in order to give them their space.  He wanted to let them think it over and decide for themselves what to do and not to face off with them in battle of wills.

Often we rebuke our kids and, so to say, stand in their faces waiting for them to submit.  This, says Rav Chaim, will create an artificial hurdle to their coming around to understanding our side, and it will make it that much harder for them.  When "educating" your child, learn from Moshe Rabbeinu, and end your drasha with a quick exit.  Let them contemplate your words on their own terms without you banging it into their head with a hammer.  If you "VaYifen Vayeitzei", there is a better chance that "Vayushav" (Bo 10:8), they will come calling after you quicker than you think.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elyashiv - As The Girls Go, So Goes The Generation After Moshe warned Paroh about Makas Arbeh, Paroh says (Bo 10:11), "Lichu Na HaGvarim V'Ivdu Es Hashem", let the men folk go and serve Hashem, while the women and children remain behind.  Rav Elyashiv says (Divrei Agada) that Paroh knew that if the women remain tied into the culture of Mitzrayim, the men can do all the avodah they want.  As soon as they come back they will follow the women, and all will be lost.

He brings a Medrash (Bereishis Rabba 17:7) that drives home the point.  The Medrash speaks of a childless couple who were both very pious people.  They decided that since they were not producing any servants of Hashem, it is best that they divorce and each marry someone else, hopefully producing children.  The man married a wicked lady and he himself became a Rasha.  The woman married a wicked man but he became a tzaddik.

There was conference of Rabbonim after the Russian revolution, says Rav Elyashiv, where there was a proposal raised to create a curriculum for girls education.  Many Rabbonim protested based on the words of Chazal who say not to teach your daughters torah.  Rav Eliezer Rabinowitz from Minsk stood up and asked, how can you teach torah to someone who wants to convert if he is not yet Jewish?  The obvious answer is that unless you teach him he cannot start becoming Jewish.  Similarly with the girls.  When there were vibrant Jewish homes they did not need to learn torah but times had changed and without torah they had no chance, and they would drag the boys down as well.

It is clear from here that the girls lead the way.  However, don't forget them because the future of our wonderful sons hang in the balance.  What exactly they should be learning is a subject of great debate, and obviously the goal is Yiras Shamayim and not lomdus.  Because when they come back from shteiging in Yeshiva there needs to be a special girl waiting for them or else... The girls are the hope and future of Klal Yisroel.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rabbeinu Yonah - Who Will Be Tomorrow's Brightest Star?

It is often a dilemma in the classroom, do you gear your lessons to the best and the brightest because they are the ones at the end that will make something of themselves. Or do you structure you lessons to include even the weakest children, sacrificing the "stars" by boring them with lessons below their level for children who probably won't amount to much anyway?

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (1:1) says "V'Ha'amidu Talmidim Harbei"; you should have many students. Rabbeinu Yona quotes Machlokes between Shammai and Hillel in Avos D'Rebbi Nosson. Shammai says you should only teach worthy students while Hillel says you should teach everyone. One time Hillel asked if all the students were present. They answered, yes except for the smallest one. Hillel said bring him in as well. This little student was Rebbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai the great tanna that saved Yidishkeit during the Churban Bayis Sheini.

The lesson we learn says Rabbeinu Yonah is that we do not disregard any student to focus on who we consider the children with the greatest potential because we can never know who will be our future stars.

Thu, 14 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shemos: Rav Chaim Kanievsky - Nice Ideals Don't Always Make Good Chinuch Moshe was almost swallowed by a snake on the way back to Mitzrayim until Tziporah realized what was happening and gave a Bris Mila to their son Gershom.  The Michilta says that the reason why Moshe Rabbeinu didn't perform a Bris Mila on his son was because he agreed to a deal with Yisro that his first son will be for Avodah Zara.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky says that we cannot take this Mechilta at face value since Yisro already gave up Avodah Zara and was even excommunicated because of it.  Certainly we cannot fathom that Moshe Rabbeinu would agree to such a deal.

Rav Chaim explains that the deal was that the first child would not be taught any religion and when he grew up he would choose on his own.  Yisro came to the truth on his own and wanted his grandchildren to have the same freedom of choice.  He wanted him to find Hashem through an honest search for the truth so as to leave no doubt his mind.  To this end there would be no chinuch, and Moshe would not give him a Bris Mila. Moshe was confident that a child that grew up in his house would undoubtedly choose the right path and agreed.

Sounds nice in theory but real life doesn't always work out the way lab tests do.  Unfortunately, there can be collateral damage from even nice ideas.  While Gershom became a great tzaddik, another generation later one of Moshe's descendants became a Komer for Avodah Zara for Pesel Micha. 

Thu, 07 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Blessed Is He Who Threatens And Carries Out We bless Hashem thirteen times in Baruch SheAmar, all of them quite understandable.  We talk about His Rachmanus, how He created the world, about Schar and all sorts of nice things.  The one seemingly out of place bracha is "Boruch Gozeir U'Mikayem", blessed is Hashem who decrees and carries it out.  We daven all the time for Hashem to abolish His harsh decrees.  Why do we thank Him for carrying them out?

If a child misbehaves we sometimes resort to threats to get the child to stop acting in a bad way.  We certainly don't do this because we like punishing.  On the contrary, we assume that this punishment is severe enough to encourage the child to behave.  We hope not to carry out the threat.  We don't enjoy doing things to the child that he doesn't like.

If our assumptions prove incorrect and the child stubbornly clings to his way, we are forced to make a decision.  One that we may not have pondered when issuing the threat.  Are we prepared to carry it out?  The biggest problem with going through with it is that this is not the most effective way of teaching a child the proper way.  He cannot understand that this is for his good and you love him.  Face it, he doesn't believe that a smack hurts you more than it hurts him.  On the other hand if we don't carry out our threat, our words become meaningless and it reinforces the child's deviant behavior.

The same is our relationship with Hashem.  Hashem guides us with a mixture of love and fear.  Surely He wants to shower us only with good.  Yet from time to time He keeps us in check with a small slap on the wrist if we don't mend our ways.  It is hard to develop Yiras Shamayim through the fear of Yom HaDin in the next world since we have never seen it and cannot comprehend it.  If Hashem would let us cruise through life without carrying out any of His threats what would be with us?

Boruch Gozeir U'Mikayem.  Thank you Hashem for the occasional reminders even though You suffer more in our suffering than we do.  Boruch Osei Bireishis, we know that You created the world and only want good for us.  Boruch Miracheim Al Habriyos, thanks for pitying us and carrying out your threats.

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Mattisyahu Solomon Solves The Riddle And Helps Cure The Boy

As told by Rav Refoel Salzer of Gateshead  -  Approximately 17 years ago, I took a class of 12-year old boys for Chumash-Rashi. One particular boy in the class (we’ll call him “Reuven”)  gave me cause for concern. I knew him to be a serious, hard working boy with excellent ability, and I expected him to be at least among the top of the class. It alarmed me therefore to note that he was scoring around the 40% mark, week after week. His Gemoro Rebbe confirmed that in his class, Reuven was “bombing away” at the head of the class.

I took Reuven aside and queried this situation – and I was even more astounded by his explanation.  “Rebbe,” he said in all honesty and sincerity “ this has been going on for years! I have just never been able to ‘get my teeth’ into Chumash Rashi. There’s just something about it that does not let us get on!” He then went on to assure me that it had nothing to do with the Rebbe – it had been the same with all his past Rebbeim. When I tried telling him how fundamental Chumash Rashi was to his Yiras Shomayim and the success of all his learning, he replied that he was fully aware of all this, - but he simply could not get to grips with this crucial Limmud.

This left me absolutely dumbfounded – I could not understand why such a solid, ‘tachshit’ of a boy should have such difficulty. He was clearly talking from the heart, and I found myself helpless in a inexplicable situation.

That night I attended a Chasuna which was graced by Harav Matisyohu Salomon Shlita. He had just returned from a visit to the then Soviet Union, and he related a ‘vort’ he was told there by an ‘elterre Yid’ who had heard it from the Chofetz Chaim!

In Parshas Vayera, when Hagar took the ailing Yishmael through the desert where she ran out of water, Chazal tell us that the well of water she discovered later, was actually there all the time. Hagar however was prevented from being able to see the water until after her encounter with the Malach.  

Why, asks the Chafetz Chaim did Hashem hide the water from her in the first place? If nature would have been allowed to run as normal, there would have been no crisis to begin with. Furthermore, if we examine the pesukim, we see (פרק כ"א פסוק י"ז) that Hashem had decided that Yishmael should be allowed to liveכי שמע א...ם את קול הנער באשר הוא שם.  It is only in פסוק י"ט that Hagar is able to ‘discover’ the well of water. In between these two pesukim is an entire possuk

קומי שאי את הנער והחזיקי את ידך בו כי לגוי גדול אשימנוIt appears that Hagar needed to go through this process of lifting and grasping her son before she was to be released from her torment. What is the meaning behind all of this?

The words of Harav Salomon almost knocked me off my seat. The Chafetz Chaim explains that the reason why Hagar lost the ability to locate the natural supply of water – was a result of her having despaired and having “written off” Yishmael’s chances of survival. In fact, we are being taught here that when a person is Misyaesh and does not believe in his own ability, his attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and Hashem removes the ability that he actually had!

Even after the Divine ‘psak’ that Yishmael should live, Hagar was still deprived of the water supply. The only way to change the situation was for her to change her attitude! She had to lift the child, hold him tight and have faith in him that he will indeed grow into a great nation. Once this was done, Hashem reversed the situation to its original natural state, and Hagar could partake of the resource that was waiting for her all along.

Suddenly everything made sense! Reuven’s success was being withheld from him because of his misguided perception of his ability. If only he would lift himself up and take a firm grip of himself, he would be allowed to grow as he so badly desired.

The following day, I decided to share this vort with the entire class I did not even make eye-contact with Reuven when I said this over but I fervently hoped that he would take the message on board.

To this day I cannot be certain whether this made a difference, but I do know that from that week onward, Reuven (who is now a Magid Shiur) began to achieve increasingly better grades at Chumash Rashi.

Wed, 25 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Toldos: Rav Pam - Strength From Mommy's Effort's Destiny had it that Yaakov was supposed to receive the Brachos.  Why did it have to come about in such a roundabout and dangerous way?  Why did it need to involve Rivka potentially sacrificing her marriage and her life to make sure the Brachos found their way to its rightful owner?

Rav Avrohom Pam answers that from the day Yaakov received the Brachos he knew nothing but Tzaros.  First he was attacked by Eliphaz.  Then he, the Ish Emes, was forced to live and deal with the world's all time greatest liar Lavan for so many difficult years.  Then there was his homecoming by his not so brotherly brother.  Then Dina, then Rochel, then Yosef...

Rav Pam asks how was Yaakov able to overcome all these heartbreaking and faith testing obstacles?  He brings the Medrash that says that Yaakov always felt that if he gave up and gave in to despair he would forfeit all the blood and tears his mother gave in order for him to get the Brachos.  His mother's pain is what stopped him from losing faith.

When Rav Shmuel Vosner shlit"a was asked if it is true that his mother gave up a career as an opera singer after a Rebbe promised her that if she does so she will be blessed with a child that will be even more famous in the Jewish world, he said, "I never heard it from her mouth, but my mother always pushed me to learn, saying that I have no idea what she gave up for me!"

Children may seem unappreciative, but they only "seem" that way.  They are extremely smart and can tell what sacrifices, and how much effort, you put into them for their own benefit and what effort you devote self servingly, trying to live out your fantasies through them without real consideration for their best interest.

If you truly sacrifice for your child, he will always hold on to your sweat and tears as a wonderful security blanket through the trials and tribulations in life.  Even in the darkest moments when life seems too hard to overcome, what he won't do for himself he will always do for Mommy!

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Chayei Sara: Rav Moshe Feinstein - A Son Is Everything! The pasuk says, "VaHashem Beirach Es Avrohom BaKol", Hashem blessed Avrohom with everything  (Chayei Sara 24:1).  Rashi says that the word "BaKol" is gematria "Ben" a son, meaning Hashem blessed Avrohom with Yitzchok.  Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, why does the Torah tell us this with a Remez and not directly.

He answers that the gemara in Bava Basra (17a) says that the Bakol the Avrohom received meant every possible good in the world.  No possible pleasure eluded him.  Yet Avrohom knew that without a son to carry on his legacy, his mitzvos, his piety, and even his pleasures did not amount to anything.  When the Torah tells us that Avrohom had it all, BaKol, included in that is the son that would follow in his way and make his life's work meaningful.

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Chazon Ish - If You Can Bring Me Just Two Good Men

An avreich once approached the Chazon Ish seeking his advice on which of two job offers he should accept. The avreich told the Chazon Ish that the first offer was to serve as a maggid shiur in a small yeshivah. He also explained that if he did not accept this offer, there were definitely others who would be happy to accept the position. The second offer was to serve as a kashrus mashgiach for the Rabbanut. The avreich mentioned that if he accepted this position, he would be able to purify the whole country with kosher foods.

The Chazon Ish inquired of the avreich whether he would be capable as a maggid shiur of influencing at least two of his talmidim to continue learning during bein hazemanim exactly as they did during the zeman. The avreich answered that he thought he would be capable of this. The Chazon Ish then said, "You should know that two bochurim who will learn during bein hazemanim as if it was the middle of the zeman is worth far more than purifying Eretz Yisrael with kosher foods!" (Told over by R' Matisyahu Solomon, shlita, Mashgiach Ruchni of Lakewood - Chayim Sheyash Bahem)

Mon, 02 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Noach, The Perfect Tzaddik With Imperfect Children The Torah calls Noach a tzaddik, but not only that, he is called a tzaddik Tamim, complete and perfect.  The very next pasuk tells us that Noach had three sons, Shem, Cham, and Yafes.  Cham as we all know was a Rasha.  Can a father of a Rasha be called perfect.  Is this Rasha son in no way a reflection on him and a stain on his record?

The beginning of the pasuk starts, "Eileh Toldos Noach, Noach", the offspring of Noach was Noach.  A Mashal is given about a father who works night and day and earns more money than he needs to live.  When asked why he doesn't retire, he replies that he is working for the next generation.  Fast forward 20 years to a hard working young man, the rich heir to his father's sweat an blood.  Why does he work?  For the next generation of course!  This repeats itself generation after generation.  Will any of them ever stop and do something useful with their life after accumulating seven generations of wealth that is just sitting in the bank?

Noach did not live for his children.  His "baby" was himself.  He worked on himself to reach perfection.  Does that mean that he didn't care about his kids?  Chas V'Shalom!  The next words of the pasuk are "Ish Tzaddik".  Noach was a tzaddik.  A tzaddik is selfless.  He lives to give to the world.  Yosef was called a tzaddik as he supported the entire world through the years of famine, as did Noach in the Teivah.  This seems like a contradiction.  On one hand Noach lived for himself and on the other hand he was selfless and lived for others.

The answer may lie in the distinction of what one does for his children and why he does it.  When raising children there are two possible driving forces.  One because the child is our child and we live through them.  They are an extension of us and we see them as the ultimate reflection of ourselves.  We try to shape the children how we'd like ourselves to be.  This approach has more to do with ego than being a true parent and guardian of the Neshama that Hashem has entrusted us with.

The Torah approach is that raising children is just another mitzva that Hashem has sent our way.  It is a way of fulfilling his command and making ourselves a better people by doing this.  As Rav Shimshon Pincus writes, we are not placed in this world to change the world, it is Hashem's world and He will shape it as he wants, with or without our help.  We are here to shape ourselves into the perfect human being.  This is something that Hashem cannot do since He gave us Bechira, free choice.

By the same token our children have free choice and we cannot "make them" into anything.  We are commanded, as part of our own self betterment, to help others grow to the best they can be.  If we have made this effort then we have done our job to perfection.

Noach lived his life to perfection.  Eileh Toldos Noach Noach, he worked on Noach.  In the course of his work he was a tzaddik, he devoted himself to the others, including his three sons, the entire human race (before the Mabul), and the entire animal population (during the Mabul).  "Tamim Haya B'Dorosav", he achived perfection as he fulfilled his task completely, despite the fact that, "VaYoled Noach Shlosha Banim Es Shem Es Cham V'Es Yafes".  True they did not all turn out to be tzaddikim but in no way does that detract from Noach's perfection.  He did his job perfectly!

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The People Of Brisk Wait For The Rov To Start Kol Nidrei One Yom Kippur as the people of Brisk waited to start the Holy Tefila of Kol Nidrei, the Rov, Rav Binyomin Diskin the father of Reb Yehoshua Leib Diskin, was still not in Shul.  This was very strange considering Rav Binyomin's timeliness and his deep consideration for not causing Tircha D'Tzibura.

The Gabbai was quickly dispatched to the Rov's house to see what was causing the delay.  Upon entering the house, the Gabbai was astonished to find Rav Binyomin sitting over a Mishnayos learning with his young son.  "Moreinu V'Rabbeinu", said the Gabbai, "The whole tzibbur is waiting for the Rov to start Kol Nidrei and he is sitting and learning Mishnayos with his little child?!?"

Rav Binyomin burst our crying and he said, "I made a Cheshbon HaNefesh for Yom HaDin and realized that I need many zechusim to be acquitted in my Din.  I searched for a great mitzva powerful enough to tip the scales all by itself and I could not find a better mitzva that sitting and learning with my young child."

Gmar Chasima Tova!

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas VaYeilech: Rav Nosson Adler - The Biggest Sacrifice A Parent Can Make Hakhel Es HaAm HoAnashim VihNashim VihaTaf" - "Gather the nation, the men women and children" By the Mitzvah of Hakhel, the Torah commands the parents to even bring their small children to hear the Melech Lain different segments of Sefer Vayikra.

R' Nosson Adler (Rebbi of the Chasam Sofer) points out, although the small children might disturb the Laining, and the parents might not be able to concentrate as well, you should still bring them! The Torah is teaching us that the Chinuch of one's children is sometimes more important than the parents doing the Mitzvah on a higher level. Sometimes it is better to give up a bit of your "Shlaimus" of a Mitzvah for the sake of the Chinuch of your children!

Thu, 10 Sep 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Ki Seitzei: Both Parents With The Same Voice, Appearance and Height??

The braisa in Sanhedrin 71a says that there never was and never will be a Ben Sorer U'Moreh because in order for this wild child to be put to death his parents need to be similar in voice, appearance, and height which simply can't be. Why not? True it is rare but how can the Tanna say so with certainty.

The Baalei Mussar say that the Torah is teaching us a valuable parenting lesson. Often the parents each have their own agenda and their own set of priorities and fundamental beliefs. This sends the child conflicting signals and conflicting guidance and it leaves the child confused. Surely a child with such an upbringing is capable of misbehaving. His veering from the path is not a sign of internal rot. It is a ramification of poor chinuch for which the death penalty is not warranted.
But if the child has two parents that are on the page, they speak in similar tones, they both show the same appearance by acting in a similar manner to that which they demand of their child, and they both set the same goals and heights that they want their child to reach, and with this beautiful consistent easy to understand chinuch the child still leaves the right path, then there is something seriously wrong with the child in his soul and in his core. A child like that is better off dead.

To this Rebbi Shimon says emphatically, impossible. Every Jew has a pure neshama and if his parents present a united front and set a good example to follow the child will absolutely not behave in this way and therefore Ben Sorer U'Moreh can never exist.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Shoftim: A Little Attention Can Save A Life When a murder takes place between two cities, the elders of the closer city come to the murder site and perform the mitzva of Eglah Arufa.  They say "Yadeinu Lo Shafchu Es HaDam", our hands did not spill this blood.  The gemara Sotah explains that of course we are not accusing the tzadikim of murder, but if they let someone leave the city without food and proper escort they are responsible for the murder.  Why?

The Gilyon Pninim brings from the Alter MiKelm that when a person is dejected he has less value for his life.  This man who was not treated properly upon departure was less enthusiastic about life and quite possibly did not struggle with his murderer to save himself.  Therefore his blood is on the hands of those who neglected him.

In a radical twist he brings from Rav Yaakov Neiman zt"l in Darkei Mussar the following important lesson on chinuch.  Rav Neiman says that it is not the victim that they are saying they did not let leave without food and escort but rather the murderer.  This person may have needed some attention.  Only when he was treated like a non-entity was he able to stand up in such an audacious manner and callously snuff out the life of another human being.  The Zikeinim are called to declare that they treated every human with respect and no murderer was created by their lack of caring for anyone.

Often when a child acts up, each age with their own mishugas, it is a cry for attention.  One reaction is to scream to stop the idiotic behavior.  A more effective response is to deal with the underlying cause.  With a little child it is quite easy.  All you need to do is give them some attention and then poof, they have totally abandoned what they were doing. With an older child it is more difficult, and the process requires a change in your attitude and hopefully they will return over time.  Either way better to keep giving attention because Mishugas is not easy to make disappear, and can snowball until it results in a tragic ending.

One day we will all be called to task for our children's behavior.  Sometimes we are responsible and sometimes we are not.  Even if we set a sterling example, we will not automatically be off the hook.  The question that will be asked of us is, did we give them enough attention?  Will we be able to stand in front of Bais Din Shel Maala and declare "Yadeinu Lo Shafchu Es HaDam"?  If we cannot then we are accomplices to murder!

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Re'eh: On The Road To Yerushalayim Even Men Need To Ask Directions "LiShichno Sidrishu Uvasa Shama", seek His Presence and come there (Re'eh 12:5).  The Ponevezher Rov asked why is it that when the Torah tells us to build a Bais HaMikdash, the location is not clearly stated?  

He contrasts this to the Arei Miklat where the Torah tells us "Tachin Licha HaDerech", and Chazal explain that the roads should have signs at every junction pointing in the direction of the Arei Miklat.  The reason for this is, he explains, is that Murderer in his flight to safety should not need to stop and ask directions because we don't want everyone to know that a murder took place since it will desensitize the people to murder.

With this he says, that on the other hand when a person is going to the Bais HaMikdash we want him to stop everyone along the way to ask for directions to awaken in them the desire to also go to the Bais HaMikdash.

The Chinuch Malchusi says that we learn from here that you should not teach your children through negative examples.  Do not point out the wrongdoings and teach them its evils and how they must avoid it.  In a sense this will open up their thoughts and teach them all sorts of bad things that they would have surely avoided had they came upon it themselves.  

A distinguished Mechanech once told me that when he was a young boy many years ago (before drugs were a huge problem) in school in the Bronx, they brought in an officer from the Drug Enforcement Agency who brought in many kinds of drugs and gave them a lecture about avoiding each one.  This mechanech said that it was very educational to the bulk of his class who ended up on drugs!

Good education means monopolizing the mind with positive lessons, examples, and stories.  Just like the questions on the way to the Bais HaMikdash, this attitude will help the children find the Shechina after a longer but very successful journey.

Wed, 12 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas VaEs'chanan: To Teach A Student In the parshas of Shema it says "V'Shinantam Livanecha", you should teach your sons (VaEs'chanan 6:7).  Rashi says that this mean teaching you you talmidim, your students.  If so why does the torah write "sons", shouldn't the torah just write students without the roundabout reference?  The Shulchan Govoa brings a number of lessons from the great Roshei Yeshiva for this use of language.

Rav Yechezkel Sarna zt"l the Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron answers that we see from here that if you don't treat your talmidim like your own children then they are not even considered you talmidim.  To be considered a talmid you must treat him like a son.

Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt"l the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore says that we learn from here that you must treat your talmid like a son in the respect that just like a son is always your son even when he grows older and no longer needs your loving care, so too a talmid always remains a talmid even after he moves on  You should never lose the Kesher with him.

Fri, 31 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Lipa Zilberman Suggests Staying At The Wedding Rav Lipa Zilberman was a legendary mechanech in Israel who taught generations of talmidim. In his later, years, he once attended a wedding, and he met a past talmid who was also attending the wedding, along with his young son.

The talmid said mazel tov to the chassan, participated a bit in the dancing, and prepared to leave. On his way out, he approached Rav Lipa for a bracha for himself and for his little boy. Rav Lipa showered them with brachos and then said, "I suggest that you stay at the wedding for another few minutes."

The talmid looked at Rav Lipa in surprise. His schedule was very tight and he couldn't imagine why Rav Lipa would want him to delay his departure. However, R' Lipa didn't leave him wondering for long.

Rav Lipa explained himself. "The chassan's Rosh Yeshivah is supposed to come to the wedding in another few minutes. All the bnei yeshivah will dance around him showing their kavod of Torah and they will even sing in his honor ‘Yamim al yamei melech tosif.' A sight like this penetrates deeply into the soft hearts of children and implants in them much simchas haTorah, ahavas Hatorah, and kavod Hatorah. Do you want to miss out on such a golden opportunity?" (Aleinu Leshabeach)

Sat, 04 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Bahalosicha: Rav Moshe Feinstein - You Need To Know More Than You Teach "Bahalosicha Es HaNeiros", when you light the candles.   Rashi offers two reasons why we use the word, "Bahalosicha" literally going up, to describe the lighting of the Menora.  First it means that you must light it until the wick can remain lit by itself.  Second Aharon must go up three steps to light the menora.  Rav Moshe Feinstein says in the name of the Mizrachi that these two reasons are one and the same.

What is the connection between these tow totally different ideas, asks Rav Moshe?  He answers that they refer to learning and teaching.  He explains that a Rebbi or parent must teach his students until they know it well enough that the lesson becomes theirs and they can go further with it by themselves.  That is the first pshat in Rashi.  The hadlaka is only complete when lights are strong enough to light themselves.

In order for a Rebbi or parent to teach their charges well enough that they can learn more by themselves, he himself must know the subject with far greater depth and breadth than what he is giving over.  That is why Aharon must take three steps up to the menora.  The menora was only 18 tefachim high.  Aharon was tall enough to light it without climbing steps.  However because the menora is the light of torah that is being taught to talmidim who must be able to eventually light themselves, Aharon needed to raise himself far higher than the light he was lighting and be able peer down on the menora's lights from way above.  Only then is he assured that the lessons will be absorbed.

Mon, 08 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimon Schwab - Little Shimshon Is Much Smarter Than You Think Manoach's wife tells him that she met a Malach who said she will have a baby that must keep all the laws of Nezirus. Manoach unsure what this all means, davens that the malach should come again and explain him what to do. The Malach returns and tells him exactly what he told his wife. Why did this new answer satisfy Manoach?  Did Manoach not know the Halachos of a Nazir?

Rav Shimon Schwab explains that from a close reading of the grammar of the pasukim we see that Manoach was asking how parents can raise such a holy child. He was not asking what Shimshon must do. That he already heard from his wife. What he wanted to know was what "he the father" must do to successfully raise his Nazir son.

To this the Malach explains him that rule number one in raising children "personal example". He told Manoach that although he is not a Nazir he must keep all the laws of Nezirus if he expects young Shimshon to do so as well.

Even more incredibly, says Rav Schwab, Manoach's wife was forbidden to drink wine during her pregnancy, even before the baby was born.  Maybe the lesson from what the malach told both Shimshon's parents is that they should not think that they cannot drink wine in front of Shimshon, but when he does not see it is permissible.  If they want to raise a Shimshon they themselves must make this lifestyle truly their own, even behind closed doors.  Putting on a show in front of your little tzaddikel will not work.  Your influence on your child extends to all your actions, in front of him and behind closed doors, in the house or outside of it, in your home or in your office, in the country or even far far away from home.

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Yom HaMeyuchas - The Second Day of Sivan And Its Special Yichus The second day of Sivan is called Yom HaMeyuchas.  The Taamei HaMinhagim brings a number of reasons for this.  This is the day that Hashem told Bnei Yisroel "V'Atem Tihiyu Li Mamleches Kohanim", you will be to me a kingdom of Kohanim (Yisro 19:6).  This is the day we received our special Yichus setting us apart from the rest of the nations.

Another explanation he brings is that according to the Yalkut, when the other nations questioned why Bnei Yisroel received the Torah, Hashem told them to bring their Sefer Yuchasim, to see if their pedigree stands up to the level of Bnei Yisroel's whose forefather's included Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov.

Rav Shlomo Kluger says in HaElef Licha Shlomo (also brought in Taamei HaMinhagim) that since this day is between two special days it also is considered special.  The day before is Rosh Chodesh and the day after starts the Shloshes Yimei Hagbala, the final preparation for Kabalas HaTorah.

Maybe all three answers are related and teach us an important lesson.  In Yiddishkeit a person's own standing is more important than who is parents are.  We see this from the Halacha that a Talmid Chochom who is a Mamzer an illegitimate son, is more important than a Kohen Gadol who is an Am HaAretz.  The worthlessness of Yichus is only if the child has left the ways of his parents.  As long as he is in the same surroundings and environment and continues to identify with his parents ways, then his lineage affects him greatly and matters very much although we may not yet see it within the child.  

Yom HaMeyuchas on the surface has nothing special about it.  This quiet unassuming day with no special identity is firmly placed between its two great parents and it also stands on hallowed ground in Sivan, in the days leading up to Kabalas HaTorah.  Similarly after Yetzias Mitzrayim the Bnei Yisroel, who were the children of illustrious parents, were working on gaining an identity of their own.  On the second day of Sivan neither looked very special not the day nor the people.  They were both just a product of great yichus.  But it didn't take long as only a few short days later on Har Sinai their greatness was revealed to all.  One was a key day before the big event and the other were the people who received the Torah.

Mon, 25 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Emor: Rav Shlomo Kluger - The Telltale Sign, A Slippery Slope Or A Steep Drop

Not every time a child succumbs to the winds of change is it something he learned from his home.  Believe it or not there is a Yetzer Hara  who challenges children even from perfect homes.  The Chinuch Malchusi brings from Rav Shlomo Kluger that there is however a big difference between these two children. 

If the child learned his bad ways from his home than his fall is instant.  Right from the start he will emulate the bad traits that he is accustomed to seeing at home without any hesitation or conscience.  If however the child received a good chinuch and has fallen victim to the temptation of the yetzer hara, then his fall is very gradual and deliberate as it is accompanied by inner turmoil and guilt.  The gemara in Shabbos (105b) says that the yetzer hara works very slowly and deceptively, baiting his victim one small step at a time until he ultimately reaches the lowest level.

This is pshat in the pasuk (Emor 21:9), "UBas Ish Kohen Ki Seichel Liznos Es Aviha Hi Michaleless", the daughter of a Kohen who has an improper relationship is a disgrace to her father.  Why her father?  Because "Ki Seichel", right from the start; "Liznos", she has gone straight to committing a horrific and unacceptable aveira.  This is a clear sign that her wrongdoings are a product of her upbringing.  Therefore the torah testifies, "Es Aviha Hi Michaleless", her behavior speaks volumes about the immorality of her father.

Sun, 03 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Vayikra: The Ox Who Sneezed First The Medrash tells a story of an ox whose owner wanted to bring it for a Korban.  No matter how many people the owner brought to drag it to the Bais HaMikdash, the ox stood its ground and would not budge.  Along a came a poor man with a single strand of grass in his hand.  He waved it in the ox's nose and the ox sneezed, coughing out a needle stuck in its throat in the process.  After that the ox went along willingly to be slaughtered in the Bais HaMikdash.

Rav Mordechai Hominer in his sefer Chinuch Malchusi says, do you know what would have happened had they somehow taken the ox by force and shected it for a korban?  They would have found the needle in the throat and it would have been treif!  The fact that they did not force it and the poor person managed to solve the problem let it go by its own free will and become a beautiful korban to Hashem.  He brings from the Pardes Yosef that this is the meaning of the pasuk in Vayikra (1:3) if you want your Korban to be "tamim", complete and perfect, then it must be "Lirtzono" with the animal's free will.  Then it will go up "Lifnei Hashem" before Hashem.

Similarly says Rav Hominer, when it comes to Chinuch of our children it must be done with their free will.  Our job is to coax them and help remove the obstacles, paving the way for them to go forth.  If it is done by force, you can end up with a Treifa, a wounded and pasul child that cannot be repaired.

Mon, 23 Mar 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Sculpting Our Keruvim - Angels Or Monsters? "He's an angel... when he sleeps".  This often used expression is similar to the Pshat of Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein the Rosh Yeshiva of Slabodka.  Rashi says that the face of the Keruvim were the face of children.  However the other time we find Keruvim in the torah by Adam HaRishon when he was sent out of Gan Eden, Rashi says they are angels of destruction. So are they angels or monsters?

Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein explains that they have potential to be both.  In Parshas Truma the Keruvim are on the Kapores on top of the Aron Kodesh.  When they are attached to the torah, they are beautiful children with shining faces who bring the shechina into the world.  However when they stand alone, detached from torah, they can literally become angels of destruction, terrorizing and destroying all that they come in contact with.  Torah is life.  Devoid of it and left to the winds of the world, the spirit dims and darkness reigns. 

It is not just about learning a blatt gemara in Yeshiva and demanding the child gets 100% on every test.  It is an environment at home.  It is an attitude.  It permeates every conversation and every family related decision.  Do you run a torah based home, or do other things act as the family compass, with all eyes pointing towards it?  Give your children torah, give them life.

Wed, 25 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
When Does An Apple Fall Far From The Tree? The gemara says "Ben Kara D'Avuha" a son is the leg of his father, or as we say an apple does not fall far from the tree.  Once a not so good person came to a great Rav who had a great deal of respect for this person's father.  When the Rav did not treat him as he felt he deserved to be treated because of his illustrious father, the son said to the Rav, Ben Kara D'Avuha.  The Rav replied, "Yes, your father always complained he had bad feet."

Unfortunately very often today we see many apples far from the illustrious trees that raised them.  Why everybody wants to know? There are many answers to this question some based on internal factors, some based on external factors, and some based on otherworldly factors.

In honor of Tu B'Shvat let's examine some obvious reasons why an apple can fall far from its tree and not ripen to the delicious fruit of its forefathers.

1.  The tree does not stand on solid ground, but hangs in the air.  Once the fruit falls off it drop indefinitely.  We need to raise our children on solid fundamentals.  We need principles that we believe in.  Principles that drive our actions and decisions and are clearly demonstrated by our talk and action.  To be totally unprincipled is not acceptable to many kids and the honest child will be left alone in the world to find his own way, which may not always be the best way.

2.  No Fence - If you do not put a fence around your tree then nothing stops unwanted elements from coming in and picking your fruit.  It also does not prevent your fruit from walking off by itself.  Depending on where the tree is located a fence may not be enough.

3.  Grafted Fruit - If an apple tree wants its fruit to become anything other than an apple it will need to graft a branch onto itself.  Typically the fruit will not turn out to be the fruit you wanted since an apple tree cannot really produce a plum.  What you may get is something really mixed up that is neither here nor there.  Trying to raise something other than yourself is a risky proposition, even if you do it for your child's best interest.

4.  Abandoned Tree - The fruits can grow into beautiful luscious fruits as it has been for generations.  However if everyone is busy and no one is around to pick the fruit when it is ready, it will simply fall on the floor and rot. 

5.  Wind Storm - An apple will fall near the tree under normal circumstances.  However when their is a storm the winds can blow the apple miles and miles away from the tree.

Ikvisa D'Meshicha is not an easy time to raise children.  Hard work and tefila will certainly help and that is our job.  But at the end of the day, Ein Lanu Al Mi L'Hisha'ein Ela Al Avinu SheBaShamayim.  May we all be zocheh to grow and raise beautiful Torahdik'e fruit that will one day blossom into trees of their very own and give nachas to their parents, Klal Yisroel, and Hashem.

Mon, 09 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Moshe Feinstein - 'Siz Gut Tzu Zein Ah Yid! The Meoros HaShabbos tells a story of someone who once posed the following difficult question to Rav Moshe Feinstein.  In the early part of the last century if one wanted to be Shomer Shabbos, he would very often need to find a new job on Sunday, after being fired for not coming to work the previous day.  Nevertheless there were many Giborei Koach who passed this Nisayon and were moseir nefesh to keep Shabbos despite the hardship.  How is it possible that many of these courageous Yidden had children who went of the derech, even as conditions for a Yid considerably improved as the community grew, with the influx of European Jews after the war?

Rav Moshe's answer is heartbreaking but something we need to learn from.  Rav Moshe said that this all depended on what the child saw in the house on the holy day of Shabbos.  If he saw his father, the worn out warrior, bemoaning his terrible fate and worrying about his future, then despite his mesiras nefesh his child learned the lesson that being a Shomer Torah U'Mitzvos is torturous.  If we feel that "Shver tzu zein ah Yid", our children may opt for the easy life despite our decision to serve Hashem in light of the difficulty.  However if the father came to Shabbos glowing, feeling fortunate to be able to bask in his Creator's warmth on this special day, even at the expense of his job, this child understood that Shabbos is very special, and it is a priceless privilege to be part of the fold.

Our children are watching carefully.  Not only our words but also our body language.  What we feel is important and Geshmack is what they will come to value.  Happiness screams louder than words.  Enjoy Hashem, enjoy Shabbos, enjoy Yom Tov, enjoy learning, enjoy giving tzedoka, and make it enjoyable for them too.  If torah and mitzvos are a burden, in today's day and age there are plenty of alternatives and they are readily available, Rachmana Litzlan.  When we grew up it was enough to "Enjoy Coca Cola" but today they want more. It isn't a trick, Diracheha Darkei Noam.  But we ourselves need to believe it and feel it before we can pass it down to them.  Oy es iz gut tzu zein ah yid!

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
How Many More Generations Can We Survive? One day I received a call from the chairman of the start-up I worked for as a senior executive.  We were very close and being that he was not religious, I was one of the only frum Jews he knew.  He was very distraught that his older brother, who was drummer in a small rock band, has gotten engaged to a non-Jew.  His brother was getting older and after steadfastly refusing to marry a non-Jew for many years, had finally succumbed to age and the desire to start a family.  This was the chairman's worst nightmare and he started to worry that his two little boys may do the same.

I suggested to him that he should start becoming more Jewish and that was his only saving grace to actively help his children.  We started learning once a week together and he even started taking his boy to a local synagogue.  We shopped together for a Kiddush Kos and candle sticks.  To make a long story short, not one word we learned penetrated his brilliant Harvard educated mind.  He sat there dumbfounded whether we learned gemara, chumash, Rambam, mussar, whatever.  The excitement of all the rituals he started performing quickly wore off and wore down him and his family.  At the heart of it all lied an inability to believe.

A few months later he called me back again and said, I am getting worried again.  What could I do.  I told him that the chances of his children not marrying a non-Jew are as good as the chances of my children not marrying a girl from a different sect.  Neither of our children will respect their parents wishes that seem to be grounded in racism rather than religion.

The early victims of the "enlightenment" in Germany all shared the same feeling that Judaism is made up of illogical ancient rituals, routines, and superstitions.  With this kind of attitude Yiddishkeit can only survive in total segregation behind the ghetto walls.  In the age of enlightenment where free rational thinking was cherished, Judaism underwent reform and then this even more lifeless brand of Judaism eventually disappeared altogether.

The age we live in today is far more liberal and open and "enlightened" than the early 1800's in Berlin.  Even the chareidim today are intertwined with the national culture to a degree that would probably earn ourselves outcast status 200 year ago.  We mix freely on all levels, our mother tongue is the national language, we are well in tuned with the national media, and even to a large degree have adopted many aspects of the national culture that would have made Moshe Mendelsohn proud.

We can't afford to practice dry rituals and routines rooted in superstition.  The incredible Ba'al Tshuva movement we are witnessing today is thanks to those pioneers who have recognized this point and have breathed life back into Yiddishkeit.  Depth and understanding, rationale and reason, are no longer for Baalei Tshuva alone.  Even we, from frum homes, must practice our Yiddishkeit with the vigor and passion of newly minted Baalei Tshuva.  Rav Berel Wein once joked, when does a Ba'al Tshuva become considered just a regular Jew?  When he starts to talk during Krias HaTorah.

The Navi Yeshaya says (57:19) "Sholom Sholom LaRachok V'Lakarov" peace unto the far and near.  Rashi explains that the "far" are the people who adopted Yiddishkeit a long time ago.  The close are those freshly minted and enthusiastic ones.  Rav Shimshon Pincus says that the old ones are called far, because in their routine they have become far from the goal.  The new ones are the near ones and are literally hanging on to Hashem and not just going through the motions.  They are the ones who will pass on Yiddishkeit to the next generation.  Unlike deep faith, racism and routines don't last over many generations.  Certainly not in today's open society.

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000