Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wonder Who Will Water All The Children Of The Garden (Robert Hunter, Phil Lesh & Jerry Garcia - "St. Stephen")

I had a few days off from work, so I took the opportunity to spend Shabbat with my wife and kids at a summer camp in the Poconos Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. My nine year old son was very excited to see me. He also managed to strike a balance between spending time with me and being with his bunk. My 13 and 11 year old daughter, on the other hand, were a very different story. After lunch, I met them towards the middle of the camp, where other parents were visiting their children. We sat at a picnic table and talked. I couldn’t stop looking at them, listening to them and realizing that in the few weeks they have been at camp, there is a noticeable difference. They sounded just a little bit older, they sounded a little bit smarter, they sounded just a little bit more mature, and they sounded just a little bit more confident than they ever have been. Of course, my 13 year old daughter kept asking “what time is it?” Clearly she didn’t want to be there, she preferred to have been with her friends and with her bunk, as it should be. As both my daughters kissed me good bye, and headed off to their bunks and Shabbat activities, I realized just how much my children have learned, and how their learning has made them more mature and confident young people.
 how their learning has made them more mature and confident young people.
I realized just how much my children have learned, andThis Shabbat is Parsha V’Etchanan. It is always the Parsha that immediately follows Tisha B’Av (the Ninth of Av), the day in which we commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second Temple. The Parsha is a continuation of Moshe Rabeinu’s lecture to Bnai Yisroel. While last week’s Parsha, Devarim featured Moshe gently castigating and criticizing Bnai Yisroel; in Parsha V’Etchanan, Moshe urges and cajoles Bnai Yisroel to learn from their hardships. Moshe explains that the hardships that Bnai Yisroel already faced and will face in the future are a direct function of their following God’s Torah. Good things will happen when they followed God’s Torah, and not so good things will happen when they don’t follow God’s Torah. Failure to follow the Torah will result in exile, however there will always be the opportunity to learn from those mistakes and return to the land and to the relationship with God.
Moshe re-iterates the Ten Commandments and his experience at Sinai. Then Moshe explains that while he can speak of the Ten Commandments and share his experience, Bnai Yisroel will now have to pass this information and these commandments in a very different way than sharing a firsthand experience of the revelation of Sinai. Instead, this generation, the generation that did not stand at Sinai, will have to teach the meaning of these words, ideas, and commandments, to their children. V’Shinantam Levanecha V’Dibarta Bam, B’Shivtecha, B’Veitecha, Uv’Lectecha VaDerech, U’Veshachbecha U’vKumecha. – And you shall teach them [these words] thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you go to sleep and when you arise. The sages explain that a person’s devotion to Torah is the priority given to teaching it to one’s children.
As parents, we teach our children many things. Sometimes we teach them things consciously and formally; sometimes we teach them things inadvertently and quite unintentionally. However, when we consciously decide to teach our children, we obviously only teach them those ideas, those values, and information that we think is relevant and important.  Yes my wife and I teach our children Torah, its rules, its ideas, and its values. We also teach them to have judgment, confidence, and to learn from their experiences. Generally, we have no idea if they learn their lessons. Usually it is quite impossible to watch our children grow up in front of our eyes. However visiting my children at camp, I received a gift. I saw firsthand, that my children have learned, they have matured a little, and they have grown up just a little.
Rav Yitz

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