Teach Your Children
There are some stories that are so well known that regardless of our religious knowledge or observance, many of us are familiar with them. The story of Cain and Abel covering sibling rivalry, Adam and Eve with the teaching of consequences, and Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac.
We read about the binding of Isaac on Rosh Hashannah and a few weeks later in the parasha of Vayera, and yet despite all the Rabbinical commentaries and explanations given over the years, somehow this Torah teaching about the test of this father, being asked to sacrifice his child makes us continue to question.
Abraham is given 10 tests to examine his faith in G-d. The sacrifice of Isaac is the final one. This is apparently the most important test that Abraham had to pass. Ultimately, the hardest test for a parent.
Nonetheless, Abraham had to pass a finite number of tests and yet as parents we are faced with tests on a daily basis. They come in many forms.
How will we choose to raise our children? Whether the decisions we make today in the way that we educate them, will stand the ultimate test, the test of time. Where will our children be Jewishly in their own futures?
Are we guiding them in the way of the Torah? Can we teach them about the Torah? Is the Torah relevant to their futures in this very modern world of immediacy, materialism and short-term goals? As civilization advances, the world continues to become smaller and more connected. As we grow to a larger human population than ever before, how can we continue to pass our test? Are we teaching our children their Jewish identity?
Our parenting test is teaching our children how the roots of their past will ground their future.
Despite a huge amount of parenting books available to us, our children do not come with a manual and as parents, we often doubt ourselves. Are we giving them the tools they need for a successful future? And what is the definition of success?
Money, health, career, happiness…
I would like to suggest that the goalposts are being moved as quickly as the latest technology becomes outdated. We need to teach our children the skills that they will need in order to find their place in an ever changing world.
Teaching our children about Judaism, stories from the Torah, Jewish ethics, and how to find peace in prayer shows them that some things don’t ever change. We can teach them that wherever they go, they can find a community, somewhere to put down their things and feel safe and at home. With the familiarity of a Jewish tradition, regardless of where they are or where life takes them, your children will carry their roots with them.
Abraham was tasked with the sacrifice of his son, we must ensure that we do not sacrifice our own children to the enormity of a transient world where they can lose sight of who they are and where they belong.
During the High Holiday period, we are engaged in tradition, ritual and prayer as we look inward and assess where we currently stand internally and where we would like to be. You are here because somewhere in your own past, you started on a Jewish journey.
Now more than ever, having a sense of Jewish identity will guide our children, giving them the tools to anchor themselves.
Make sure your children have the opportunity to begin their own journey.
Veshinantam levanecha, teach your children. A Jewish education is something we cannot afford to sacrifice.
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