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November 27, 2014

Make it meaningful

by Rabbi Dovid Felt

One of the best-kept secrets of parenting is making what you want your child to hold dear, meaningful to you. A basic premise of the socializing theory is that children learn the most from their parents. When a value or a ritual (such as watching football on thanksgiving) is important to parents their children will most likely adopt it. However, with this secret comes huge responsibility. That is, the responsibility to make the proper choice.  One needs to be careful when choosing what things are going to be important to you. In addition it is not only what is important but also how important the value or ritual is to you. The “how” is also going to be a factor in whether it will be adopted by your children.

Over the past few Parshas we saw an example demonstrating to what extent a child will be willing to adopt their parents values and rituals. It starts with Avrohom who entrusted Eliezer with finding an appropriate wife for Yitzchok. The Torah tells us that Avrohom made Eliezer swear that he would not take a wife “from the daughters of Canan”. Yitzchok in the next Parsha uses the same languages when he instructs Yaakov to go to Choron. He says to Yaakov don’t take a wife “from the daughters of Canan”.  Again a few Possukim later we find that Esau saw that his father didn’t want Yaakov to take a wife from the daughters of Canan so he went to Yishmoel to look for a wife. The Sefornu questions the use of the word “saw” (it should have said “heard”).  He explains that Esau’s adoption of Yitzchok’s request didn’t make sense for Esau. In fact it went against the Berochos he had just received after much pleading nevertheless, because he saw that it was meaningful to Yitzchok he chose to adopt it.

This week Valley Torah hosted their annual dinner. It was a wonderful and enjoyable event. My take-away from the inspiring evening  (aside from the beautiful rendition of an original composition written and performed by Rabbi Moshe Samuels) was how meaningful Valley Torah was to the honorees and as was evident by their son’s speech, Valley Torah is a integral component of their entire family’s lives. I was also inspired by the show in numbers of parents of current students as well as the number of alumni who attended – clearly demonstrating how meaningful Valley Torah is in their lives. Once again Mazal Tov to the honorees and may you continue to see much Nachas from your entire family.

Felt Tips

An area of challenge especially with teenagers is the Shabbos meal. Sitting in one place for any length of time can be difficult especially when the image conjured in a lot of teenagers mind of a formal dinner is one where adults sit around and talk about topics adolescents are not really interested in. So what can we do (the importance of everyone being part of the Shabbos meals will be discussed IY”H in a future blog post)? Here are a few ideas – and if you have any ideas of your own I would love to hear them. For starters any of these ideas should be implemented when our children are still young, way before they become teenagers. We should try and make them part of the program (yes, program!) whether it be in the choice of the menu, or in the preparation of the food. They should have a say in choosing the topics to discuss, they can also prepare which Zemiros to sing or Dvar Torah to share. Another idea is to create a competition where they able to win prizes. When inviting guests try to invite ones that have children their age but whatever you do, please don’t forget that the Shabbos table is about the family and our children need to be a large focus of it.

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