How to Teach Children the Value and Sweetness of Torah

16 06 2010

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller

visaIn this class we will examine how to teach children the value and sweetness of Torah, how to determine which school will serve as the best partner in educating your child, and how to then build a mutually beneficial relationship with your child’s school.
Children between the ages of three to six develop a strong sense of what is normal and valued and what is not. No matter how many rhymes and songs they’ve learned, if they don’t see anyone in their own life valuing Torah, they will pick up the worst possible message, namely, what you say and what you do reflect different values.

Let’s look at three different home scenarios. In one home, the father comes home from work, eats supper, interacts with the family, and then may or may not go out to a shiur. However, if every so often, the father does go to learn, the child should be aware of it. The mother should say, “Say goodbye to Abba, he’s going to learn Torah.” Torah learning should be part of the child’s sense of normalcy, just as eating with utensils or putting on shoes are.

There has to be time set aside for Torah, even if it doesn’t happen every day. The child should register that whenever possible, Torah learning takes priority. Additionally, the child should see that there are Torah books displayed prominently in the home. This will leave him with the impression that Torah is important, beautiful, and valued.

In another home, the father almost never goes out to learn. Here, the mother needs to make sure that at least on Shabbat there is Torah at the table. Even if Torah only comes into the home once a week it is visible and treasured.

In the third kind of home, the father really learns a lot. Maybe a chavruta comes to the house every night, or the father teaches in yeshiva or he is a full time kollel member. The child knows that Abba learns Torah. However, he can make the mistake of thinking that Torah belongs to Abba and has nothing to do with him. He can even reach a point where he views the Torah as a rival that cuts him off from his father. Here the father should, at least occasionally, invite his child to join him in Torah learning. This can be accomplished by telling a story at the Shabbat table or learning with the child daily, even if it is only for a short while. This way the child won’t end up feeling locked out of his father’s world, which can result in serious problems later on.

Girls at this age need to see their mother involved in physical activities, and busy with spiritual pursuits. It is important for a girl to see that her mother is a seeker. She should go to a shiur or read an inspiring book so her Torah becomes a part of the home too. If she bakes challa or gives tzedaka, her daughter should hear her say every so often, “I am doing this mitzva because this is the Torah teaches.”

There are wonderful Torah books available for kids today. There are sefarim on the parsha, Pirkei Avot, and stories about the sages. If the wordy stories are too hard for your young child, you can compensate with pictures. Show your child an illustration of Hillel lying on the roof. Tell him, “Do you see how hard Hillel is trying to learn? Even though it’s cold and snowing, he’s on the roof listening to Torah.” This will teach your child the idea that learning Torah should be done in every environment and situation.
We will continue to explore this topic next week.

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One response

2 06 2014
jewish

Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges.

It was really informative. Your website is very helpful.

Many thanks for sharing!

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