18 Adar 5781 / Tuesday, March 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Ki Tisa
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Educating Ourselves    

Educating Ourselves

How does a parent cope with the incessant battle of showing the kids the light of Torah amidst the fighting ground of iPhone 6, tablets and WiFi?


We all want our children to grow up with the Fear of Heaven and to live their lives with perfect Emuna. But what happens when we see that our expectations aren’t being met? How does a parent cope with the incessant battle of showing the kids the light of Torah amidst the fighting ground of iPhone 6, tablets and WiFi?


The painful feeling is all too common amongst families today. More and more young boys are going to their bar mitzvah’s with little emotion. This is the reality and sadly, the hearts of parents are breaking on the inside. But the truth of the matter is that these little souls of today have been shattered and pounced on by modern technology. As my dear Rabbi says, “How can a child be expected to learn Torah if he has a Tablet?” More and more parents are waking up to the fact that a change must be made. This is an excellent start, but the path to living an inspired and connected Jewish/Emuna oriented life seems frightening, so what do we do?


As parents how do we react to our young teens when they don’t follow the Torah. For instance, wearing a kippa, or going to the synagogue, or being on time for prayers. Most parents get upset and an ensuing fight breaks out between the teen and parent. These arguments rarely if at all have any positive outcome, in fact they only further drift the gap between the child and parent. As Rav Shalom Arush puts it, the positive connection between a child and parent leads to a positive connection between them and God. The opposite can also hold true.


But why is it so hard? Why is Hashem making it nearly impossible to keep our kids interested in holiness? Take a moment right now and try to apply the three levels of Emuna to your situation.


1. Everything is from Hashem

2. Everything is for the Best

3. Everything has a Purpose


Rav Arush puts it so clearly that in this world our only purpose is to get closer to Hashem. It’s not to have season tickets, it’s not to have a Pandora bracelet, and certainly not to pig out and get flabby. Our job is to get closer to Hashem. This law of spirituality is connected to our lives at every age. So how can you get closer to Hashem?


Every parent should read The Garden of Education, in which it describes a principle that’s worth drilling into our hearts. Our children are our reflection. Meaning our good qualities and less respectable traits are all reflecting out from the kids. So why does it hurt so much? Because you as a parent have no greater pleasure than to see your kids make it in life. That’s why it hurts, Hashem is making it intolerable for you so that we’ll change. When you change, your kids will blossom.


Let’s review, Level One of Emuna: “Everything is from Hashem”: the unpleasant behavior is from Hashem. As it is taught by the Rambam in the 13 principles of faith. Hashem did, does and will do everything. That includes the things we don’t like. Maybe Hashem doesn’t like our behavior.


Level Two of Emuna: “Everything is for the good”: Hashem does not do anything without a purpose, including the bad behavior. Our job is to get closer to Hashem and stop thinking we are in control. Get into a quiet place and peaceful state of mind and ask yourself honestly, how could this situation be for the good? What might I need to learn from this?


Level Three of Emuna: “Everything has a purpose” Hashem has sent this bad behavior and caused you the uncomfortable feelings. Remember our job is to get closer to Hashem so the pain wakes us up. Apply the mirror principle and take an accounting. Perhaps you yourself have not been the best example to your children lately. What can we change? Pray for forgiveness and mercy and implement your new plan for educating your beloved family. Keep in mind to correct any behavior of yours that falls within the expression “Do as I say, not Do as I Do.” Judaism and Emuna-oriented living require an absolute expression of honest adherence to one’s beliefs. It can’t be faked. So get to work!


Additional thoughts/tips:


Rabbi Shalom Arush says that there are some parents that work very hard to climb the spiritual ladder. This is great but it often comes at the expense of having fun with the kids and showing them the happiness of believing in Hashem. Spend more time wrestling and singing with your kids on Shabbat.


Set aside at least 30 minutes a day and pray for your child.

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