Thursday, December 26, 2013

386 - Eikev

What is our objective in the chinuch of our children? The answer, says Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. I pg. 260), can be found in this week's parsha. In the second paragraph of Krias Shema we read, "And you shall teach them to your children [so that they will] discuss them" (Devarim 11, 19). The Ramban notes that we were already commanded in the first paragraph of Shema, "and you shall instruct them to your children and you shall discuss them when you sit in your house . . ." (ibid. 6, 7). What more is the Torah adding in the second paragraph? 

He explains that in the first paragraph the Torah focuses on the studying of the father: "And you shall discuss them when you sit in your house . . ." In contrast, the second paragraph adds that we should teach our children in a manner that will cause them to discuss the Torah at all times. Additionally, the first paragraph commands us to "instruct our children" i.e. relate to them all the mitzvos, while in the second paragraph we are commanded to "teach them to our children." This implies that the Torah studied should not merely be stated; rather it should be given over with clarity and in a manner that enables the child to understand the reasons behind the mitzvos.

Our objective is to create a situation where our children will discuss the Torah on their own. The means of accomplishing this task is by the father giving over the Torah ideas and values to his children with clarity and the proper explanation. It is specifically the father that has an exceptional ability to connect his children with Hashem.

With this in mind it is imperative that there always be a positive relationship between father and child. "It is forbidden for one to impose an added measure of fear in his house, since much damage is caused by such undo fear" (Gittin 6b). While the children are still young, the mindset in the home must be focused on the future. The parents must ensure that the atmosphere in the home does not exude fear or the like, lest these numerous negative impressions culminate in the child forsaking his parent's way of life in his adolescent years.

The golden rule of chinuch can once again be found in Chazal (Shabbos 32a). "Even though the Rabbis stated that a person must say three things in house on erev Shabbos, they must be said pleasantly so that his words will be accepted." Things which are not stated softly and with patience are simply not accepted. Even if a child complies with his father's demands, the father should not fool himself into thinking that he has been mechaneich his son in the long run! Also, demands that appear reasonable to a parent might be perceived by a child as completely irrational. Therefore, even if the child fails to comply with a parent's request, there is no need for immediate punishment. Rather, the parent should reiterate his request with quiet determination.

For many, the summer offers a rare opportunity for parent's to spend extra time bonding with their children. Investing a little thought into how to make the most of this opportunity goes a long way toward the future of a child!

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