Friday, March 19, 2010

Small Epiphany

I had an epiphany last week.

I wrote about the subjugation of my will to Hashem's will as being an important part of my taking on more mitzvos. I titled the post "Because He said so..." For a long time, I have wanted to write a book titled, "Because I Said So!" about raising children. The point is that children need to know their parents' will is above their own, that they need to obey their parents without explanation, that "because I said so" is explanation enough. I always said if children learn that lesson, they are better prepared to be contributing members of society- most of us have bosses we have to listen to, we have to obey laws with which we may not agree, we have to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Turns out I only understood a portion of why that lesson is so important.

Here's my epiphany: That relationship, parent to child, is the mirror of our relationship with Hashem. Thus, how well we prepare our children for understanding that their will is not the ultimate goal, is how well we prepare them for a relationship with Hashem. When we fall down in that area of parenting, we also impair their ability to get close to G-d by following His mitzvos, because they will judge their will with respect to His the same way they judge their will with respect to ours. If we let them get away with not listening to what we say, they will look at Hashem's laws and mitzvos as up for discussion in the same way, say, bedtime is up for discussion in many households. If they can negotiate their way out of cleaning their room, they will negotiate/rationalize their way out of keeping kosher. If they are used to having a sensible explanation for whatever is asked of them, they will also want a rational explanation for all decisions in Jewish life, and it's just not there all the time.

If, instead, we can teach them to understand that as their parents we know what is best for them and they learn to follow what we ask of them simply "because," then they will be that much closer to understanding our relationships with Hashem.... and I believe that is the first step to developing a fulfilling relationship of their own.

Have a wonderful Shabbat,


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