Bedarchei HaTorah No. 41 BDARCHEI_HATORAH_FALL_2018 - Page 5

FROM THE ROSH HAYESHIVA ONCE EVERY SEVEN YEARS, Yerushalayim of yore was witness to an incredible event. On Sukkos following the Shemittah year, the Torah instructs us to gather together the people—the men, the women, and the small children… There, in the Beis Hamikdash, every single Jew, young and old, would gather as the melech would read aloud from a Sefer Torah. It was called Hakhel. Rashi, quoting from the Gemara in Chagigah explains that the men were there in order to learn. The women came in order to listen. “And the children, why did they come? So that a reward (s’char) would be given to those who bring them along” – their parents. We understand the value of bringing children who are old enough to understand what is happening. But why bring infants and toddlers, who are too young to comprehend the meaning of the event? Why do their parents receive a Heavenly reward for taking them along, when they won’t absorb anything? I believe that the answer is key to understanding the nature of chinuch. Raising children the Torah way does not begin when they are old enough to read or to comprehend a lesson. It begins at birth! As parents we have a sacred responsibility – and oppor- tunity – to imbue our children with the values of our eternal mesorah from their earliest days on this earth. Do they understand the words? Not at that age. But the ruach, the spirit, of everything we expose them to enters their spiritual bloodstream, becoming a profound part of who they are. That is why we have to be vigilant to ensure that, from a very young age, our progeny are growing in an environment that is kodesh – not only free of foreign images and ideas, but filled with our sights and sounds: Torah learning, emunah, refined middos, Shabbos, and the joie de vivre of Jewish life. We must daven for our children’s success. Always. But is incumbent on us to ‘bring them along’ to experience our service of Hashem – even when they are small. They may be too young to understand what is happening, but we get reward regardless. Because they are never too young to absorb it. Rabbi Yaakov Bender BEDARCHEI HATORAH FALL 5779/2018 3