Friday, January 23, 2015

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Bo 5775–Teach Your Children Well (Redux 5762)

My apologies. Some technical problems, So here’s an old favorite from 1998

Random Musings Before Shabbat - Bo 5762

Teach Your children Well

While I may not have children of my own flesh and blood, I have many children of my soul. They are all a blessing to me as if they were my own. And it is as much for their sake as my own that I hold my Judaism so dearly.

Parashat Bo teaches us much about our obligation to our children. First we learn from Moses' insistence that "Young and old alike will go." (Ex. 10:9)

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה בִּנְעָרֵינוּ וּבִזְקֵנֵינוּ נֵלֵךְ בְּבָנֵינוּ וּבִבְנוֹתֵנוּ בְּצֹאנֵנוּ וּבִבְקָרֵנוּ נֵלֵךְ כִּי חַג־יְהוָֹה לָֽנוּ


Pharaoh is willing to make a deal, but Moses will have none of it. All or none. The children must be part of the people that will go forth to serve their Gd. From this I learn that we must include our children in all that we do.

I learn that we are asked to treat our children as adults, and to share our pride with them - "You will then be able to confide to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians.." (Ex. 10:2)

וּלְמַעַן תְּסַפֵּר בְּאָזְנֵי בִנְךָ וּבֶן־בִּנְךָ אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִתְעַלַּלְתִּי בְּמִצְרַיִם וְאֶת־אֹֽתֹתַי אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי בָם וִֽידַעְתֶּם כִּֽי־אֲנִי יְהוָֹֽה

We're not told to wait until they ask a question, but to volunteer information. Later on we read "On that day, you must tell your child, 'It is because of this that God acted for me when I left Egypt.'" Again, without waiting to be asked. (Ex.13:8)

וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר בַּֽעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יְהוָֹה לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

We need not boast to our children, but surely we must share our pride in our people and our way of life. And here, clearly, I learn that I must also tell them of the wondrous things that G”d has done for us. There is no escaping that instruction. To leave G”d out of the story is unacceptable - yet how much is G”d still a part of what we teach our children (especially in our religious schools) ? Even if the concept doesn't fit our modern understanding, does that excuse us from relating the story as our ancestors saw it? I think not.

I also learn that children will be inquisitive, and learn that I must answer their questions - and know what I need to know to answer them.

Your children may [then] ask you, 'What is this service to you?' (Ex.12:26)

וְהָיָה כִּי־יֹֽאמְרוּ אֲלֵיכֶם בְּנֵיכֶם מָה הָֽעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת לָכֶֽם

Your child may later ask you, "What is this?" (Ex. 13:14)

וְהָיָה כִּֽי־יִשְׁאָֽלְךָ בִנְךָ מָחָר לֵאמֹר מַה־זֹּאת וְאָֽמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּחֹזֶק יָד הֽוֹצִיאָנוּ יְהוָֹה מִמִּצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִֽים

Both times were are told what we must answer.

How can I answer them if I myself do not know? Do I send them off to their computer to look it up on some CD-Rom encyclopedia? Or do I look it up myself and them answer them? Do I wait for them to learn it themselves or do I teach them?

It is not enough to just give our Jewish children the tools and skills to learn things for themselves. As valuable as that might be, there are some things we adults need to teach them ourselves. We must find out what needs to be taught and seek to know these things in our own hearts so we can teach them to our children.

So I study and learn not only for myself, but for my children. And my children are your children - our children. They are our future. Let us heed the messages of Bo.

Shabbat Shalom,


©1998 & 2002 by Adrian A. Durlester

Other musings on this parasha:

Bo 5774 - Spellcheck On My hand
Bo 5773 - Dear G"d...Love, Pharaoh
Bo 5772 - Lifting the Cover of Darkness
Bo 5771 - Keretz MiTzafon-Again! (not the same as 5769)
Bo 5769-Keretz MiTzafon
Bo 5768 - Good Loser (Redux 5763)
Bo 5767-Teach Your Children Well (Redux 5762)
Bo 5766 - Random Disjunctions and Convergences (Redux 5760)
Bo 5765-Four Strikes and You're...Well...
Bo 5764-Keretz Ani
Bo 5763 -Good Loser
Bo 5761-Cover of Darkness
Bo 5762-Teach Your Children Well

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