A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ Post by Rebecca Masinter
I actually had many thoughts I wanted to share this week but, as happened most of this summer, I have raced through the days doing so much and also not being able to do so much. Let me try to get at least one thought down.
The words, “Hear O’ Israel the Lord our God the Lord is one (Deut. 6:4),” are known as the shema and observant Jews say it multiple times a day. It continues: “And these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you lay down and when you arise.”
A great transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom known as the Alshich notes two powerful points for parents. The first is that if someone wants to teach someone else Torah or character development, he or she must first embody and contain those qualities. That’s why the words first say, “upon your heart”. First, we have to make sure that God’s wisdom and the fruits of that are in our hearts. They have to be part of us before we can pass them on.
Once we have made God, the Bible and Scriptural behavior part of us, then they will be part of our children too. If Torah is in our hearts, it will enter the hearts of our children. That, explains the Alshich, is why the next verse doesn’t use the Hebrew word for teaching “v’limadtem,” in the phrase “and you should teach them.” Instead, it uses the Hebrew word, “v’shinantem.” The root of this word is “SHiNuN” and it means something sharp like a sharp tooth. (SHeiN is a tooth in Hebrew.) If the words of Torah are sharp like an arrow, and if they are coming from our own hearts, they will naturally pierce our children’s hearts. The influence will be natural, piercing, and intense, because it comes from our hearts.
In other words, what excites us, excites our children. What bores us, will also end up boring our children. We can spend these last few days of summer developing ourselves, learning, growing, and strengthening our own connection to God and His wisdom. That alone will have a powerful effect on our children.