Wednesday, November 4, 2009

200 - Vayeira

"And Hashem said, 'Will I conceal from Avraham that which I am going to do? For I am fond of him because he will educate his children and household to follow the ways of Hashem, to perform acts of charity and carry out judgement'" (Bereishis 18, 17 - 19 as per Rashi's explanation). Rav Wolbe comments (Shiurei Chumash) that it seems from this pasuk that Avraham's great righteousness and many acts of kindness were not a great enough merit for him to be worthy that Hashem reveal His plans to him. It was only educating his children to follow the ways of Hashem that earned him the extra fondness which in turn led to Hashem revealing His intentions with regard to the destruction of Sodom. From this we can deduce how great is the importance of chinuch and, therefore, we must make an effort to be sure that we are properly educating our children and pupils.

Chinuch must be carried out intelligently. This necessitates that the level of education be appropriate for the child's age. Chazal tell us, "A five year old begins studying Torah, a ten year old begins studying Mishna, a thirteen year old is required to keep the mitzvos etc." (Avos 5, 24). They determined specific ages for all aspects of Torah study and mitzvah observance in consonance with a child's natural growth process. If this holds true for learning Torah and performing mitzvos, how much more so does this apply to the areas of behavior and derech eretz. One cannot demand from a child to behave in a way that is way beyond his level of maturity; nor at every age is a child able or ready to understand that a particular action is forbidden. Every stage in a child's development requires thought as to the proper way of conveying messages in a palatable manner. This is the key to ensuring that there always remains a pleasant atmosphere between the educator and the one being educated.

Rav Wolbe writes (Alei Shur vol. II pg. 379) that although the above idea might seem simple and self evident, nevertheless, it is the reason why many people do not succeed in chinuch. They do not pay attention to the stages of growth of the child and therefore, do not act in accordance with the child's level of maturity.

Although this idea is critical in the development of one's children, it also rings true in regard to each and every person's own growth in avodas Hashem. One must be objective in assessing his own spiritual level and act accordingly. Demanding from oneself more than he can handle, ruins the learning process and hinders spiritual growth. Taking a good hard look at oneself and one's children may change the way numerous things are done; bearing significant fruit in the long run.

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