Helping Children Relate To Torah Leaders

26 05 2010

Based on a shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Hellervisa
In later childhood and adolescence, you can teach emunat chachamim through reading about tzaddikim. Buy them tzaddikim biographies. These books are vivid and so full of mussar and hashkafa that the child will automatically grasp what a tzaddik is without having to hear you preach about it. They will want to be like the tzaddik and admire people like him. If your child’s reading level is not that high, get him simplified but detailed tzaddikim stories. At this age stay away from the magical tzaddikim tales. Tell your child stories that relate to the character of the tzaddik such as his hasmadah and tziddkut. Emunat chachamim doesn’t necessarily mean that every bracha or piece of advice will necessarily be on target. This is because ultimately Hashem rules the world. However it does say, “Tzaddik gozer v’Hakodosh Baruch Hu mekayem”-A tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills. This means that the tzaddik’s decree may be a reason for something that had no reason to happen, happening. For example, if someone didn’t necessarily deserve a refuah, but it wasn’t time for him to die, he just needed the suffering and is therefore afflicted with terrible pain. It could be that the spiritual level, the person will attain by believing in the power of a tzaddik’s bracha, will take him beyond the need for suffering, and he will miraculously recover. Anything is possible. However don’t let your children think that a tzaddik’s bracha is a guarantee. This will erode their emunat chachachim. At this age, if you’ve done a proper job of educating them to respect Torah leaders when they were younger, it will stick with them now. I’ve seen teenagers make life decisions based on the advice of tzaddikim and talmidei chachamim. If you have a history of having failed with emunat chachamim in your child’s younger years, it’s almost impossible to fix in the teenage years. However if you attempt to expose them to real tzaddikm now, they may develop it on their own. Help them gain an honest appreciation for tzaddim and chachamim. This means that you will need to demystify them to some degree. Explain to them that a gadol with daat Torah is someone who knows the Torah which is Hashem’s will and wisdom and is attuned to how things should be. At this age, your children are more likely to hear scandals. This requires an enormous amount of sensitivity. True scandals that don’t affect them personally should be explained. Open their hearts by telling them that there are people who have tremendous potential but fail to live up to it. The Korach story is very useful. Tell them that the Rabbi may have been a charismatic talmid chacham but he was blinded by desire and a lack of bitachon. You can say that he knew the truth but his yetzer hara overpowered him. Your goal is to evoke a very delicate combination of repulsion for the act and compassion for the person so that he does not globalize this Rabbi’s failures to all Rabbanim. If the child himself was affected by the Rabbi, then it is much more complex. You need to victimize the Rabbi to some extent so that the child does not blame himself. Bring examples from history of many great people who failed because they were trapped by their emotions. Introduce your child to the idea of communal consciousness. Make your child understand the motivation for keeping scandals under wraps but don’t justify the evil act. A person who loves Jews will try to cover up their mistakes because they do not want them to be degraded especially in front of non-Jews.

As we pray every week in the Techina of Motzai Shabbat, may Hashem help us merit true emunat chachamim so that our children will grow to emulate the living examples of our great Torah leaders.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: