And Moshe said unto the children of Israel, See, G-d has called by name Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehudah.
The identity of the Chofetz Chaim was discovered when he pretended to be a meshulach selling his sefarim in the town of Novo Alexandrovsky. He arrived there with his package of sefarim one morning and headed for the beis midrash, while the congregation waited for the rav to arrive and wrap himself in tallis and tefillin to begin to daven shacharis. When he saw that the congregation was ready to start davening, the guest hurried to open his package and put it on a table near the entrance. Then he removed his tallis and tefillin from his suitcase, put them on and stood in a corner to daven with the congregation.
While the guest was still engrossed in his davening, a sefer from the package was passed to the rav. When he leafed through it, the rav was impressed by its contents and his interest was greatly aroused. After the guest finished davening, the rav went over to him and greeted him. As was his way, the guest introduced himself as the meshulach of the author, who wanted to remain anonymous. The rav commented that he found a seeming contradiction between the conclusion of the author in his explanation of the Mekor Chaim and the teshuvah of the Mahari'k at the end of the book. The "meshulach" explained the words of the "author" very thoroughly, and compared them with the answer of the Mahari'k. The rav was amazed at the sharpness and depth of learning of the guest, traits which were not typical of a normal meshulach. Especially since the "meshulach" had a ready answer to his question, as if he had prepared it in advance, the rav suspected that the meshulach and the author were one and the same, and he demanded that he reveal the identity of the author. The guest was forced to admit the truth.
Immediately, the rav purchased a copy of the book and subsequently all the people who came to daven also bought copies. One of the wealthier people who was present at the gathering wanted to show his generosity to the guest, but when he saw that the Chofetz Chaim refused to take for the book more than the set price, he had a clever idea and took two books on credit. He waited to pay his debt until he saw the author getting into a wagon to leave the place. When the wagon had already started moving, the man rushed forward and thrust a bill into the author's hand. The latter, assuming that it was a one-ruble note for two copies of the book, didn't look at it, but just put it into his pocket.
When the author arrived at the next town, he counted his money and found an extra hundred-ruble note, which he couldn't account for. Immediately, he thought that one of his customers had made a mistake and had given him a one hundred-ruble note instead of a single ruble note.
He quickly returned to Novo Alexendrovsky to return the lost object. After investigating and inquiring in vain among his former customers, he announced the matter in the beis midrash and called on the person who had given him the extra money to come forward. But this too was to no avail.
After searching in vain for several days, and seeing that the week was coming to an end and he would have to leave very soon, he went up to the bimah between mincha and ma'ariv with tears in his eyes, and in a shaking voice begged the congregates to have pity on him and not to continue to bring him anguish, and that whoever had given him the one hundred ruble note, intentionally or not, should please take it back from him, since he would not use the money or enjoy it in any way. His words had their effect, and the owner of the note admitted that he had given him the extra money. But he claimed that he had given it to him with a full heart and did not want it back. The Chofetz Chaim stood firm in his refusal to enjoy a free gift, and the would-be benefactor was forced to take the note back, and in return for the books he had purchased, he paid him one ruble.
The Chofetz Chaim, through his extraordinary piety, was a source of inspiration to all. He guided others with his outstanding deeds and encouragement. We too must encourage and inspire our children by telling them stories of such great tzaddikim as the Choftez Chaim and by trying to set a personal example of doing good deeds ourselves.
"See, G-d has called by name Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur."(1) Why was it necessary to mention the name of Chur [when normally a father's name is mentioned, but not the name of a grandfather]?
Why did Chur stand up against the people who worshipped idols, when he must have known that he was thereby endangering his life? What lesson can be learned from the parable in the midrash, when it seems to be merely a repetition of what we had just learned? Why do we find that only one of his descendants, Betzalel, benefited from the reward that Chur earned by his great act? What do our Sages mean when they say that this rule applies not only to humans, but also to animals?
...Chur had sacrificed his life for G-d, when the Jewish people were demanding to worship idols, and he did not permit them to...
Chur had the courage to stand up against those who worshiped idols, despite the danger to his own life, because he felt that since worshiping idols was such a great sin that it warranted the death penalty, preventing it was something for which one must be prepared to sacrifice even his life. Perhaps he did not realize that the nation would actually go so far as to kill him in order to accomplish their objectives.
How could they have killed Chur when they wished only to serve idols, but not to murder? Throughout history, multitudes of people have been killed by religious fanatics. People can use religion as an excuse for doing anything they want. They will kill, plunder, rape and torture, saying that their actions are justified, since they convince themselves that this is what their religion demands of them. This is what happened to the Jewish nation in the case of Chur. The people who wished to worship idols saw this as a religious imperative, and because Chur stood in their way, they believed it was a "mitzvah" to remove him from their path in the name of "religion."
...G-d said of him, "I swear, any children that he has I shall promote to high positions..."
Since Chur was killed in the incident, he could not have been repaid for his sacrifice in this world, but by rewarding his children it was considered as if he himself were rewarded. No one can live forever, but his children, whose identities are linked with his own, continue his heritage. Our Sages say that a person is jealous of everyone except for his son and his student.(5) A person sees his son or his student as a part of himself, and one cannot be jealous of oneself.
Therefore if someone is to be repaid in this world, and he cannot receive the reward himself, it is natural that he receive his reward through his son, who is an inseparable part of him.
But the only one publicized was Betzalel...
The parable presented in the midrash demonstrates that it is natural for a person to want his children rewarded in his stead. Just as a son inherits money which is due to his parents, so too does he receive spiritual payment. The parable demonstrates in terms which we can easily relate to, how true are the words of our Sages.
Betzalel was chosen over Chur's other descendants, although in the parable the king promised to repay all the children "I will promote any children he has to high positions in the world." The same commitment is mentioned in the moral lesson: "G-d said to him, 'I swear, any children that he has I shall promote to high positions in this world,'" and yet we find that only Betzalel was rewarded. The reward G-d gives to one's descendants is called "zechus avos." Descendants receive merit because of the actions of their forefathers. This works not as an absolute gift but rather as a gift which is accompanied by conditions.
If you are laboring in and dedicating yourself to Torah and mitzvos, you will accrue more reward than your actions alone would warrant, because of the "credit" you have gained from your forefathers. However this is granted to you only when you have your own merits to offer as well. If you have nothing of your own to add, you will not be able to benefit from zechus avos.
Since we find that only one descendant of Chur benefited from the reward he had earned by his great act, this seems to suggest that of all his descendants, it was only Betzalel who invested sufficient effort of his own.
And do not think that this rule applies only to humans; it applies even to one's animals.
Our Sages say that zechus avos can be passed on not only to one's human descendants, but also to one's animals.
One who deserves reward will see that his cows are giving more milk and that his calves are healthy and robust and fetch a good price at the market. A person might think that he is merely having a "lucky year" with his livestock, but in reality the source of his good fortune is the good deeds of his forefathers, for which he is now reaping the rewards.
Our Sages are teaching us here that a person's success in life is determined by his spiritual level, and not by his "good luck." The spiritual world is not visible, but it controls the physical world. It is similar to a gigantic machine that serves many functions in a factory. A simpleton might think it does everything on its own, but a careful inspection will show someone behind the scenes pushing buttons and controlling everything the machine does. In the same way, it may seem to us that we remain functional, in good health, etc., but actually all this is controlled by our deeds and those of our forefathers, without which we would not be successful.
Just as a person is controlled by his spiritual efforts, so too is a child's success strongly influenced by the guidance he receives from his parents. Parents who know how to guide their children will see them flourish.
Guidance does not mean that the parents direct every step their children take. On the contrary, when a child hears his parents constantly nagging him, he will lose patience with them. A child does not want to be tied to his parents. He needs to feel that his parents trust him and see him as a capable and independent individual.
A father once gave his son money to start a business and was constantly telling him what to do. The son was over forty, and yet the father was there every day to tell him what to do in the business. At one point the son could not tolerate this any longer, and he told his father that he wanted to return the business to him, and that he would go out and find himself a new job. The father was devastated. He did not know what to do with himself, since his whole life had been built around controlling his son, and he was about to lose that control.
Parents take children into their business, sometimes not only for the sake of helping their children, but also, subconsciously perhaps, in order to control them. They believe that a child should be dependent on his parents, even though that child is an adult. Some parents cannot let go of their children and see them as youngsters who must be constantly guided.
Such an attitude is not healthy. You must teach your child independence if you want him to grow up to live a normal life. That was G-d's plan when He created the world, as it says in the verse: "Therefore a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife."(6) Every person must reach the stage where he stands on his own two feet, and it is the parents' responsibility to prepare their children for that eventual goal.
One way to teach your child independence is to give him tasks at home, and let him do them on his own, even if you know that he might make mistakes. For instance, you can tell him to go to the store, even if he might break something on the way home. Or you can send him on an errand to bring something to a neighbor, even though he might lose it on the way. Give him the task of fixing something at home, even though he might damage it even more.
When you give your child tasks, you are sending a message to him that he is growing up and that you trust him and have confidence that he will succeed in whatever you request of him. He will want to meet this challenge, and he will say to himself, "My Dad believes in me. I cannot let him down!" This is how you want him to feel.
One set of parents sent their nine-year-old daughter by herself on a bus to deliver something to her married sister. They knew very well that they were taking a risk, since the child might daydream on the bus, get off at the wrong stop and get lost. But they decided that even such a risk was worth taking for the feeling of trust and success that the child would have when she eventually succeeded at this task. There is a saying in business, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." This is also true when it comes to guiding your children towards independence.
Athough it is sometimes all right to take risks when it comes to raising children, one should never take risks with Yiddishkeit. In this area we must assure the very best for our children; they must be constantly protected, and we should never expose them to any spiritual danger.
This means that we must be sure that our children are going to the best Jewish schools, where they are guaranteed to be protected from non-Jewish influences or any other influence that might harm them. Even if the school is good, if some of the other students learning there might have a bad influence on your child, you cannot allow your child to learn there.
Our children's spiritual development is like expensive crystal. A person will not give crystal to a juggler to use to practice his art. It is too precious to play with. We cannot afford to take any risks.
When we give our children love, we give them the best guidance possible. A hug or a kiss or a warm handshake is as if you are saying to your child, "You are the greatest. You can do anything you want to do. I believe in you."
Every child is born with a lack of confidence. He is so small and so young, surrounded by gigantic adults who have jobs and money and power and possessions, while he has nothing. Imagine yourself surrounded by giants many times your size. You would not feel comfortable and would lose any feeling of confidence you might have had.
That is exactly how your child feels when he is among adults. But when we show our love to our children, all that fear vanishes. The child thinks, "Here are my father and mother, who are giants like the rest of the adults in the world, and they love me so much. I cannot let them down, and I must live up to their expectations."
A parent's love is a source of constant inspiration for the child. If a picture is worth a thousand words, one hug is worth far more. More than any encouragement you can give through words, you can give through your love, since it conveys everything.
Kiss your son and your daughter even if they are teenagers and think kisses are only for small children. Unless they strongly resist, they need that kiss just as much as a small child does. Teenagers are full of doubts and instability, since they are beginning physically to resemble adults, yet do not have the responsibilities or the common sense of adults.
Although we should not control our children's lives, we should guide them in the proper path with much love and understanding, so that they will grow to be confident and successful adults.
1. Shemos 35:30
These are the accounts [of the articles furnished] for the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were counted according to the order of Moshe, the service of the Levites, by the hand of Isamar the son of Aharon the priest.
In the book Pe'er Hador a story is told of a Jew who became observant through the encouragement and guidance of the Chazon Ish.
"Eight years after the Chazon Ish's passing, in the year 5722, the following story was told to the public by the person involved. He recounted: 'When I was seventeen I left my parents' home to work in a small Hungarian town. Soon enough I forgot the education I had received in my father's house. I also tried to hide my Jewishness out of fear of the enemies who had begun to take control in the year 5702 and who tormented and pursued every Jew.
I was able to escape detection just until the year 5704. Then the Nazis transferred me with my brother to Auschwitz. But I was saved from death by a miracle, after which I was transferred to Tereizenstat and was liberated in the year 5705. I continued to live in Czechoslovakia until the year 5708, and then I moved to Eretz Yisrael. As I said, I had severed all my connections to Yiddishkeit and to the education I had received in my parents' home. I worked not only on Shabbos but also on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
On the night of Yom Kippur 5713 I worked as usual. That same night my father, R' Chaim Mordechai z"l, appeared to me in a dream, dressed in a clean white kittel, wrapped in a tallis, just as when he was alive, and he told me: "Do teshuvah! Return to the way I educated you, otherwise your years will be cut short!" And so the dream returned and repeated itself every single night for a week.
And then came the night of Shabbos. Late at night I entered a cafe in Rishon Letzion. I ate and drank and returned home. I went to turn on the radio, and at that second I heard a voice calling behind me. "Oy Vey! You're sinning again?!"
I turned around and, wide-awake, I saw my father, who had perished in Auschwitz, and again he stood before me wrapped in a kittel and tallis, and I heard him telling me: "Don't think that this is an ordinary dream. I came to warn you to do teshuvah. In Heaven a decree has already been issued that your days are to be cut short!" I was taken aback by the sight. Then the image of my father disappeared immediately.
That Shabbos, of course, I didn't smoke and I didn't turn on the radio. But on Motz'ei Shabbos I went to the movie theater. When I came home, just as I managed to open the door, immediately I saw again the image of my father, as though he were alive, wrapped in his tallis and kittel, begging and beseeching me to improve my ways, and telling me that this was his last warning.
At that time I worked as a framing manager in a garage in Rishon Letzion. I got up on Sunday morning, and divided the workload among the workers. After that I headed to Benai Brak, to the Chazon Ish, whom I had heard about from many people, in order to relate my dreams to him.
To my astonishment, just as I passed the threshold of his home, the Chazon Ish began to speak to me with severity: "Oy Vey, you work on Shabbos, you work on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Your father has no rest in the Upper World. Kares has been decreed for you!"
He completed his words and then sat in his chair as if dozing, resting his head between his two hands, and I stood before him perplexed and in turmoil. How did he know all this?
Finally, after several moments of anticipation, the Chazon Ish opened his eyes and told me: "In the merit of a great mitzvah that you performed in your youth, they will add from Heaven days and years: From now on return to good and go along the straight path as your father educated you. Do you recall which mitzvah it was that you fulfilled in your youth?"
I replied to him: "Despite the fact that I desecrated the Shabbos, I never hurt anyone, and I also gave tzedakah." The Chazon Ish replied: "That's not enough, not in this merit are you worthy to have your decree torn up...."
Then I recalled that when I was about fourteen years old a woman came to us and told my father that in a certain village a Jewish child lay dead and there was no one to bring him to a Jewish burial. My father sent me to the town to take care of the matter, even though the action was life threatening, since the enemies had control over the roads, and I had to pass a big dark forest where I was overcome with the fear of death. I fulfilled the mitzvah, brought the dead child back and buried him.
Upon hearing the story, the Chazon Ish nodded his head and stopped speaking. When I left his house, I accepted upon myself to keep Torah and mitzvos like a full-fledged Jew, and since then I have seen in the work of my hands blessing and success."
The Chazon Ish convinced the man to give up his personal pleasures in order to do his father's and G-d's will. We too must give up our own pleasures in order to do G-d's will. In this way we will serve as positive examples to our children.
"These are the accounts for the Tabernacle."(1) "A man worthy of faith is a man who shall have many blessings."(2) The verse is referring to Moshe. Wherever he was appointed as a treasurer, blessings and success were granted through him. The reason for this was that he was trustworthy. "And he who runs to become rich will not be free of pain."(3) This part of the verse is referring to Korach, who was a Levi and wanted to have the kehunah.
From where can we learn that the success of the Temple fund collection resulted from the faithfulness of Moshe? Why is Korach considered "one who runs to become rich?" Why is Moshe called a treasurer responsible only to himself? Why did Moshe call Isamar to his side when he made the accounting, in spite of the fact that G-d made Moshe a treasurer responsible only to Himself? According to the second explanation of the midrash, what is the idea behind the end of the verse, "...shall have many blessings," since here we do not find blessings? How could anyone have suspected Moshe, who was the epitome of honesty? How could anyone have suspected the kohen who was collecting the money in the Temple, when the people appointed as kohanim were men of dignity and complete honesty? What is the meaning of the phrase "if he wants to please G-d," and how does it relate to being beyond suspicion? Why did the Jewish people bring their donations in the morning and not at any other time of the day? Why do our Sages relate the conversation Moshe had with G-d concerning the extra money?
Wherever he [Moshe] was appointed as a treasurer, blessings and success were granted through him. The reason for this was that he was trustworthy.
The Torah does not relate that Moshe made any special efforts to raise money to build the Tabernacle. It does not mention that he solicited funds. We find only an announcement stating that precious stones are needed to build the Tabernacle. After that, people flocked to contribute so much that there remained extra money, as is related further on in the midrash. This phenomenon demands an explanation, since anyone with experience in fundraising knows that it takes great effort to raise money, and people never flock to contribute on their own initiative.
The answer our Sages give is that the verse says, "A man worthy of faith shall have many blessings."(8) The blessing that Moshe experienced in his fundraising can be explained through this verse. When someone is entirely trustworthy and his integrity is beyond doubt, then he benefits from great blessings, and these were the blessings that Moshe received.
Ordinarily, people's hesitation in contributing money comes from the fact that they are suspicious and lack faith in those who raise funds. For that reason many of those who solicit funds bring with them letters of recommendation, and people known for their integrity achieve a higher level of success in raising funds than others. Any prospective donor wants to know that the money he gives will actually reach its intended destination and will not be swallowed up by the fundraiser's personal greed. The more a fundraiser can convince a potential donor of his integrity, the more likely is he to receive a donation. Integrity was the source of Moshe's success, as our Sages conclude in the midrash.
"And he who runs to become rich will not be free of pain." This part of the verse is referring to Korach...
Why was Korach considered "one who runs to become rich?" This concept relates to the fact that generally wealth should not be obtained quickly, but only after much toil and effort. This is the clear sign that wealth has been earned honestly. A person who cheats can become rich quickly, since he does not hesitate to use any method available to extort money from others. Any method he might choose to employ is justified in his eyes, since he is blinded by his desire to become rich.
This was the flaw of Korach, who wanted to be kohen gadol, and thus created the great rebellion which we find related in the Torah. He was not deterred by the many prohibitions he would need to transgress in order to attain that position. The midrash relates elsewhere that Korach ridiculed the Torah and incited arguments, which is a grievous sin, all in the hope of attaining the position he coveted. The verse concludes, "...will not be free of pain,"(9) to remind us of the consequence of Korach's coveting Aharon's position, which was that he was swallowed up by the earth.
...Moshe... was treasurer responsible only to himself,...
Moshe was called a treasurer because his was the task of collecting the gold and precious stones needed to build the Tabernacle. But G-d did not say that he must fulfill this task together with another person. G-d trusted Moshe implicitly, as the verse says, "In all My house he is trustworthy."(10) In telling Moshe to be the sole treasurer, responsible only to himself, G-d demonstrated to everyone how much faith he had in Moshe.
Moshe felt that it would be more correct to do the accounting together with another person, in order to avoid suspicion. People tend naturally to be suspicious, and Moshe did not want to give them any chance to indulge that propensity. Therefore he took Isamar to supervise the accounting, in spite of the fact that he himself had been appointed sole treasurer.
This was not considered a transgression of G-d's will. On the contrary, Moshe was praised for his actions. Moshe felt that although G-d trusted him, G-d was also testing him to see if he would rest content with G-d's trust, or whether he would make an extra effort to gain the confidence of the Jewish people. The test was to demonstrate whether Moshe understood the importance of being above suspicion. Moshe realized this, and succeeded in the test which G-d had presented to him.
A person who had the task of removing the money from the lishkah of the Temple would have to enter without a lining... This is based upon the general rule that a person must be free of suspicion if he wants to please G-d...
Being above suspicion prevents others from falling into the sin of slander. Even if we do not care what people say about us, we must be concerned with their spiritual welfare and understand that when they speak badly about us, they will be sinning. It is our responsibility to prevent others from sinning, and thus we must do our best to remain above suspicion.
The blessings that result from our being above suspicion are granted to us on account of the chesed that we perform. By going out of our way to prevent other people from slandering we are doing them a great favor, and thus we become worthy of receiving reward from G-d. That reward is very great, because in this case no one is begging us to do chesed, but rather we are initiating the act of chesed on our own. This is what is meant by one who "runs after chesed," and his reward is that he will be "a man who shall have many blessings."(11)
Although it seems inconceivable that anyone would suspect Moshe of being dishonest, we actually find that Moshe was suspected also of adultery,(12) a more grievous sin than stealing. This shows us that even the most prominent of people are not above suspicion. On the contrary, since their position is envied, people try constantly to defame them and thus to lower them from their coveted positions. Such actions stem from envy.
This is true even in the case of the kohen who collected the money in the Temple. He became the immediate target of suspicion. It made no difference how honest he may have been, for since faithful fulfillment of his task demanded absolute honesty, this left room for suspicion, which does not relate to a person's honesty, but rather to how much he stands to gain if he cheats or steals. The greater the monetary sum involved, the more suspicious people will be.
What is the meaning of the expression, "if he wants to please G-d," when we speak of being beyond suspicion? When it comes to pleasing, many people have a tendency to want to please G-d more often than wanting to please other people. If we wish to be beyond suspicion, we will do chesed for other people by preventing them from slandering. But why do another person a favor? People prefer to allow other people to suffer. Doing G-d's will is much easier, since it leads to pure reward, with no envy or jealousy involved.
In two mornings the Jewish people brought all the donations necessary to build the Tabernacle...
The Jewish people brought their donations in the morning and not at any other time of the day because when someone does something in the morning it shows that he loves what he is doing, and therefore he rushes to accomplish the tasks that are dear to him. We find an example of this in that Avraham got up early and immediately set about preparing for the task which he been commanded, of taking his son to be sacrificed.(13) A person usually procrastinates over something he hates to do, whereas he will rush to do something he loves. The Tabernacle had to be built out of love, and bringing their donations quickly in the morning showed that the Jewish nation passed this test of love.
Our Sages relate the conversation Moshe had with G-d concerning the extra money in order to show us that although Moshe could have said that he deserved payment for his efforts in building the Tabernacle, he did not do this. Instead, Moshe asked G-d what he should do with the extra money and he did not allow himself to be tempted by it. He knew that he could not judge a matter in which he had a personal interest, and therefore he decided that it would be safest to ask G-d what to do with the money. This way he knew that he would be doing the right thing.
When a person explains his actions to others to avoid suspicion, they may feel that he has a guilty conscience and for this reason he is explaining himself. But there is no need ever to feel guilty when you are explaining your actions, and certainly not when you are educating your children.
Some parents feel guilty for not being able to give their children as much as their neighbors or relatives can give. It is wrong to feel guilty in such a case. It is not your fault that you are not as rich as your neighbors or relatives, since we know that a person's wealth is determined by G-d and not by his own talents or abilities. This is mentioned by our Sages when they tell us that forty days before a person is born it is decreed in Heaven whether he will be rich or poor.(14) How can a person feel guilty about something which is not within the realm of his control?
When a child complains about such things, he may be trying to convince his parents to buy him something which is beyond their budget or something they do not want to give him for some other reason. The child may be unconsciously trying to make his parents feel guilty about not giving him what he wants. But the parent knows what is right for his child, and he should not relent just because the child is pressuring him. Stick firmly to your opinion. No matter how your child may feel about it, you must remember that you are the one who must make the final decision.
There was once a teenager who pestered his father for a long time to buy him a car. Finally the father gave in. The first time his son drove his new car he was killed in an accident. Although this is an extreme case, it does serve to teach us that we must be staunch in our decisions, since we know what is best for our children.
Many parents spoil their children by giving them too much. They buy whatever their child wants. This trains him to think that all his desires can be fulfilled, and this will not help him later in life, when there will be inevitable disappointments. This attitude of expecting to be able to have anything he wants may lead him to steal when he does not have money to fulfill all his desires, as we find in the Torah concerning the rebellious son, the ben sorer umoreh.(15)
It is also important for the child to learn to make do with little, since this quality is necessary to acquire Torah, as we learn from Pirkei Avos, where it is written: "Bread with salt shall you eat, measured water shall you drink."(16) Thus, instead of feeling guilty for not giving your children as much as others have, you should be proud that you are not spoiling them and ruining their education.
Our Sages say, "Beware of the children of poor people, since they are the ones who will spread Torah."(17) We cannot avoid the wealth we are given by G-d. What then can we do to ensure that our children will spread Torah? If we do not spoil them by giving them everything their hearts desire, then we too can teach our children the same valuable lesson, that we must learn to live simply in order to acquire Torah.
The poor child knows that the purpose of life is not to gain pleasure, and he strives in Torah, since he knows that this is what brings true pleasure. We must avoid giving our children all the pleasures of life, so that there will be room in their hearts to come to realize how pleasurable it is to learn Torah.
Some parents feel guilty if theirs is an only child. The child may complain that he has no one to play with and blame his parents for that. Obviously this is something beyond our control, since the number of children a family has is in G-d's hands.(18) Even when the parents prevent themselves from having children, when this is permitted by an authoritative rabbi, they are not to be blamed, since they have acted in accordance with halachah.
This is especially true if a parent is divorced or widowed and has only one child. You cannot get married whenever you wish, and one must wait for G-d's help to find the proper partner to marry and have more children. The child does not understand this. All he understands is that he has no one to play with, and he blames his parents for this. The parents should let their common sense prevail and suppress any feelings of guilt in such a matter.
A single parent is likely to feel guilty in any case. But the truth is, being divorced or widowed is not under our control and there is no reason to feel guilty for it. We must explain to our children that complaining is tantamount to denying G-d's kindness to us. G-d gives us health and food and clothing and also a loving parent to take care of us. Complaining because one does not have two parents is in essence saying that one is not thankful for what one has. It is also saying that G-d is not correct in what He does for us. Saying such things is clearly a sin, since we know that everything G-d does for us is for the good.(19)
Explain to your child that all of our hardships are trials, designed to test how we will react. If we accept the hardships that G-d gives us, then we shall be rewarded for our faithfulness. But if we complain, we will gain nothing.
A divorced mother approached me because her only child, a six-year-old girl, was calling her nasty names and complaining that she did not have any siblings or another parent. I told the mother that the child was getting away with such unacceptable behavior because of the guilty feelings which the mother herself was experiencing, and therefore she did not have the courage to defend herself. I told her to start working on convincing herself that she has no reason to feel guilty, and once she regains her self-confidence she will be able to discipline her child.
Feeling guilty does not help us to educate our children. In order to overcome guilt, you must believe in yourself as a parent.
1. Shemos 38:21
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network