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Raising Children

Friday, 21 December, 2018 - 1:38 pm

Holding Hands.pngThis morning as I was wrapped in my Talit and Tefillin and doing my morning prayers, my little two year old daughter got out of bed and came downstairs. Instinctively she came over to me and without saying a word, she raised both her arms and I bent down and picked her up and put her on my lap. She just wanted a simple morning cuddle and hug while I swayed back and forth and prayed and thanked G-d for moments like these and for all the blessings that we have in our lives.

Within a few short minutes she was done, and off she went to play and I was left to contemplate the moment as I finished my prayers.

I thought about her world through the perspective of a two year old, where life is a series of beautiful and happy playful moments with parents, siblings and others. Where each morning and night and lots of times in between, one feels so loved and wanted as you are cradled, played with and taught to communicate and express yourself. Life is beautiful and full of happiness, songs, playful moments, joyful family time and lots of care, attention and love.

As parents, we hold on to these moments and wish we can hold onto them forever, yet we know that times moves along and people grow up. One day our little toddlers will be big kids, then adolescents and then they will be full-fledged adults running their own lives and imparting the love, value and care to the next generation.

During these few years that we are able to hold on to our young in the nest and comfort of our home and lives, we don’t just want to make them comfortable and happy, we also want to empower them to be strong children and eventually strong adults.  We want to enable them to be able to live meaningful and productive lives for themselves and all those around them, no matter what challenges or obstacles might come their way. This is true regardless of who you are in life, but especially true as Jews, where we want our children to also be proud and strong torch bearers for a brighter Jewish future.

Ultimately we want our kids to grow up to love and understand the beautiful paths and ways of our Jewish tradition so that they too can live lives that are imbued with the direction and meaning of Judaism. Together with that, we want them to know and be aware of the realities of life, including the fact that doing what is right may not always be what is popular, in or easy, and living a life that is guided by Torah, Mitzvot & Jewish Values doesn’t mean life will be a breeze. But we are sure that if we can help them develop an underlying deep conviction and passion about what their personal relationship with G-d and Judaism is, then the way they view their life journey and also what that means in the context of their role as links in the Jewish journey throughout history, will be positively influenced in a tremendous way.

We work all day and most of the week, but then we come home each evening and each weekend and Shabbat to our nest and warm home. Home is not just the place where we have our own bed and comfortable couch, it is also the place where we have so many priceless moments and opportunities to show our love and care to our kids as we help them understand the meaning and purpose of life and empower them with the strength of our past and vision of the future.

As I moved around the house and contemplated these ideas, I heard the pitter patter of my daughter’s footsteps coming back to check on me and say hello and maybe to have another hug.

Jacob's Grandchildren

Perhaps this was all on my mind, as in this week’s Torah Portion, we read about a lot of beautiful family moments as Jacob lives out his final years in Egypt, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Jacob is finally living a life of tranquility and happiness as more importantly than not suffering, he has the joy of watching his family and grandchildren get along and live lives of meaning and purpose as they continue the path that was started by the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.  

One particular incident is of particular importance, where Jacob blesses Menashe and Ephraim, the children of Joseph. As Jacob blesses them, he calls out and declares that despite them being grandchildren and not children, they too will now each be considered as one of the independent tribes of the Jewish people. In his words to them, he describes them “as the two sons of Joseph who were born in Egypt”, which actually touched on his reason as to why he was blessing them to be tribes. Jacob was pointing out to them and to others the power and strength of their characters, who despite having been raised in a place that was surrounded by immorality and alone in trying to live this Abrahamic value system, they had prevailed and shown enormous moral strength and shown just how worthy they were.

Jacob concludes and says that when Jewish people will bless their children throughout history, they will bless them and say “may you too be like Menashe and Ephraim”. In other words, we all yearn, wish and bless our children, that as they grow up, they should have the spiritual and moral strength of these two children who despite being alone in trying to live their way of life, were able to prevail and live true lives of goodness, morality and spiritual values.

Together with my wife, we have been entrusted by G-d with several beautiful children to love, nurture and take care of. Each day as we begin a new chapter in the book, we extend a prayer to the Almighty, in which we yearn and hope that we can be the best parents that they need for their journey in life so that we can empower them with the strength, convictions and beauties of Judaism and their appreciation for their destiny and purpose in life.

Good Shabbos & Shabbat Shalom

Yisroel

 

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