I am a Christian who lives in Indonesia. I am a frequent listener of your podcast and blessed to find tremendous wisdom in your teaching. I am keen to learn about the root of my faith from Hebrew Bible, at which I believe, as you believe, as a God-given blueprint for our life.
As a recent father, it is my desire to show my child the way of the Lord. Thus, I have a question; what is the best way to teach Torah to our children (especially toddler to under 12 years of age). What is the best method/technique to convey the narrative to them while at the same time conveying the wisdom/substance (which some stories I find them may not be suitable for children. I want to learn from your perspective as rabbi and Jewish parents on how to impart your wisdom to your children.
Thank you and God bless,
∼ Nugroho H.
Congratulations on the new blessing and challenge in your life. You are asking a wonderful question. Wouldn’t it be nice if for $99 you could purchase a curriculum that would guarantee that your children will view the Bible the way you do? Of course, no such program exists.
There are a number of suggestions we can make, but first, a caveat. There is a reason that ancient Jewish wisdom speaks of a child having three ‘creators’: a mother, a father and God. While you certainly can seek advice from others, you and your wife can access wisdom on what your child needs that no outsider will have. It doesn’t come easily, but if you work hard and pray hard, the two of you have an inside track.
In today’s environment, we would suggest that the most important quality in sharing Torah with your child is your relationship with him. If your son knows nothing of Abraham and Moses, but loves and respects you and your wife and sees that you revere the Bible and God, you are ahead of the game. (We’re not recommending that he know nothing of the Bible, just making a point.)
In the same vein, while we would encourage familiarity with the Bible and by the way, as he gets older, some of the more ‘uncomfortable’ stories are wonderful introductions to difficult topics, here is our top tip. Make sure that your son sees that you and your wife treat Bible study seriously. When you read children’s books to your son, but he also sees you reading more difficult and complex books for your own edification, you are giving him an important message. If you play Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev (or Raffi and Hap Palmer) for him but he also hears you listening to Bach and Beethoven, you are introducing him to music at his level while letting him aspire to grow up and appreciate more. You are letting him know that as he grows, he will be able to access more than he can access as a child. That same message applies to Bible study.
Clearly, there is much more to be said, but absorbing one message deeply is better than reading 100 ideas at a sitting.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin