Friday, April 29, 2011

270 - Tazria

"When a woman conceives and gives birth to a son" (Vayikra 12, 2). The birth of any child, says Rav Wolbe (Zeriah U'binyan B'Chinuch pg. 32), is an entrustment from Hashem. Dovid Hamelech commented in Tehillim (8, 5) "What is a person that you should remember him, and a man 'ki sifkideno'? "Ki sifkideno" can be translated homiletically, "that you entrust him with a deposit (pekadon)." The birth of a child is an expression of Hashem's trust in a person to the extent that He has deposited a human in his care.

Children aren't given to a person so that he should have someone to take care of him when he gets old, or as an object in which to take pride. Children are a deposit from Hashem, and one must care for the deposit responsibly. What does one have to do to succeed in properly caring for this most special deposit?

The Ramban notes that in the first parsha of krias shema we say, "And you shall teach [Torah] to your children, and you shall speak [in Torah]." However, in the second parsha of krias shema we say, "And you shall teach Torah to your children so that they shall speak in them." He explains that the first step in teaching a child is invariably accomplished by way of a father speaking to the child. Nevertheless, this is not the goal. The ultimate goal is that the child should be able to speak in Torah on his own.

Consequently, we are entrusted with a deposit and we are to teach him Torah and guide him in a way that will enable him to grow properly. However, the ultimate goal is that he should want to take the initiative in his life and develop a personal desire to grow in Torah and mitzvos. It is a sad sight to behold a "chinuch" that stifles the individual and personal ambition of a child.

Children aren't merely a privilege; they are a great responsibility. They aren't "Our children"; they are Hashem's children whom He has deposited with us, for a purpose and with a mission. We have been entrusted to educate our children in a way that will facilitate their developing their own personal desire to grow in Torah and mitzvos.

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