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TENDER LOVING CARE

by Rabbi Mordechai Pollock    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"You just don't understand! You have no idea what you are talking about! You are from a different generation and you just don't get it."

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"You just don't understand! You have no idea what you are talking about! You are from a different generation and you just don't get it."

This refrain is unfortunately all too common. It is indicative in many ways of a generation gap of sorts that often exists between parents and their children. While this problem is multi-faceted and far from simple, it is worthwhile to glean but one idea from Parshat Naso.

Hashem said to Moses, "One prince per day, one prince per day shall they bring their offering for the chinuch of the altar" (Numbers 7:11). Rashi, the fundamental commentator on the Torah, tells us (on Genesis 14:14) that the word chinuch, commonly translated as education, really means something somewhat different. Chinuch means the initiation of something for the task for which it will serve. In the context of the above verse, chinuch refers to the initiation of the altar for the purpose for which it is to serve in the future.

With regard to the chinuch of our children, we should also realize well that our goal is to initiate them into proper relationships and to introduce to them ideas and information that they will use throughout their life. It is not the information that they know now for the sake of the moment that is of import. What we teach our children now is indeed really for the morrow.

"When your child is two or three you must take into account that when he becomes 14 or 15 he will be in a very difficult time of life." These words are those of Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, possibly the greatest teacher of mussar (Jewish ethics) of our time. He states emphatically that the behavior of tomorrow is often determined by the initiation and education of today. Rabbi Wolbe explains that the goal of a parent is to create a warm, open relationship with their children from the very start. The amount of time spent with a child, the discipline meted out, and the ability to encourage growth and stimulate learning are but a few examples of areas where initiation now will impact greatly upon the relationship of the future.

A tremendous amount of thought and calculation must go into this effort for it to be successful. At our businesses we run analyses, have meetings, and call in expensive consultants to insure that our efforts are not for naught. Our children require the same amount of attention and introspection, but rarely receive it. How do we build self-esteem in our child? What is the appropriate way of disciplining this child at this point in his or her life? The questions and need for answers are endless.

It behooves us to spend the time and put in the extra effort to initiate our children in the most appropriate way. We need to spend the time, effort, and money to make this happen. Only with this dedicated effort will we be able to properly prepare our children and watch them live up to their true potential.

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Rabbi Mordechai Pollock, a graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is a member of the kollel at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore.

You are invited to read more Parshat Naso articles.

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