We Are Shortchanging Our Children!

Friday, 5 November, 2021 - 4:27 pm

Imagine that some children were the heirs to a multi-million-dollar fortune. Their wealth was set up so that some of it was easily accessible with a simple password. However, this was just a miniscule sliver of the vast riches that was theirs. To access the real extent of the fortune, there was a complex process of several steps and verifications that had to be traversed before one could get to the big bucks. Now imagine parents who only taught their children the simple password and neglected to teach them about the steps needed to access the treasure that was theirs. Take it one step further. What if those parents didn’t even bother to inform their children about the existence of the fortune altogether?

This scenario is playing out every single day in Jewish families around the world. Each Jewish child is the heir to a precious treasure called Judaism and the Torah. The treasure can give us a beautiful life of a meaningful relationship with G-d. Access to this treasure requires becoming aware of its existence and getting trained in the steps necessary along the path to luxurious enjoyment of the enrichment that this treasure can infuse into our lives.

For some odd reason, the vast majority of Jewish parents are content to give their children a superficial exposure to the training needed to access the treasure. Kids barely learn the password that gives them just mediocre benefit from what is rightfully theirs. We neglect to open them up to the endless possibilities that this fortune has to offer. They come away thinking that Judaism is about self-defense against haters, commitment to a land whose importance they don’t really appreciate, and a devotion to social justice values that are not uniquely Jewish. These ideas are even often in conflict with each other…

What about the richness of Hashem’s love for us? What about the depth of the Torah’s ageless wisdom? What about the transformative power of a Mitzvah? What about the unique insight Judaism has into human character? What about the life-altering altruism of seeing another as I see myself? What about the mystical treasures that reveal a vista to a spiritual cosmos that changes everything we know about life?

Why are we shortchanging our children? If and when they discover the treasure on their own, they will confront us with a legitimate demand, wanting to know why we cheated them!

The reason might be that we weren’t told about it ourselves. But ignorance is not bliss. Start exploring the treasure that is yours, and don’t delay for a moment sharing this discovery with your children. They will bless you for all eternity for giving them the most precious gift in the world.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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