If we want our children to love Torah, we have to love the Torah and we absolutely must love them, no strings attached, and give them as much attention as we possibly can.
Lately, with the school year coming to an end, many parents have been seeking my advice as to their children who are unhappy in their current Torah schools. My blanket answer is to search for a school where the teachers love every child in the class. My grandchildren here in Ashdod are fortunate enough to learn in such schools. As such, they look forward to each new day at school. In the Vishnitzer Cheder where my grandson learns, the report card is a 4-page handwritten personal letter to the parents, addressing every aspect of the child's academic, spiritual and social growth. The caring teacher does that for all the 22 boys in his class!
No one said that teaching is easy. Every profession has its difficulties and challenges. But, if a person wants to teach Torah, says the Vishnitzer Rebbe shlit'a, he has a solemn obligation to love every child in the class. If he can't, then it's best for everyone involved that he engage in a different line of work.
Don't ever forget what Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a teaches: "If you don't live it, you can't give it." When our children see us lovingly engaged in Torah, they'll want a peace of the action. A parent has no moral or ethical right to tell his child to sit down and learn when he himself is not. And don't ever forget - if we want our kids to love Torah, we must love them. Blessings for a lovely Shavuot!
I saw a painful sight yesterday afternoon: a father was wheeling with a baby carriage with one hand and text-messaging with his other hand. Totally absorbed in his smartphone, he didn't hear the pleas of his 5-year old walking alongside, "Abba, I'm cold!" A sudden strong wind blew in from the southwest, carrying heavy rain clouds and reducing temperatures suddenly. It now started raining. The little boy was screaming, "Abba, I'm wet!" Heaven forbid that daddy should put down his idolPhone VI. Instead, he let go of the carriage, and with his free hand, he angrily pulled out a child's parka from the baby carriage tote-bag and slapped it on the little boy. Were it not for Hashem, the baby carriage could have easily rolled into the street...
Don't be surprised if down the road, in a few short years, the little boy and his baby brother or sister will be sent home from school with notes from the school psychologist that they have ADHD and must now take Ritalin.
In my experience of counseling parents on child-rearing issues, I've found a strong correlation between kids diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and lack of attention at home. Lack of attention is not a genetic disorder; it's the result of parents with skewed priorities.
In quite a few cases pertaining to the children of our own Beams readers, parents asked for my opinion after school counselors and educational psychologists had not only prescribed Ritalin, but stipulated that the child's continued attendance at their school was contingent upon his taking the drug every day. I asked parents to delay the use of the drug while first planning a program of maximum parental one-on-one quality time. Each program was tailor-made for the child.
The results, with Hashem's loving grace, have been superb. In general, I urge parents to invest "yechidut" time, where the the parent gives total attention to the so-called ADHD child, with no other siblings around. For example, a father takes the son on a hike in the woods for 2 or 3 hours, once a week, and together they learn about trees, rocks, and birds while also doing personal prayer together. A mother might take her daughter for a lengthy exercise walk & talk, or they might shop together or bake bread together. The one-on-one quality time with a parent calms a child, elevates his self-image, and does wonders for his inner joy, which is ever so important in enhancing the child's attention span and thought process.
In other cases, I've seen schools who are especially trigger happy with Ritalin and have suggested that the parents transfer the children elsewhere. In several cases, I even recommended homeschooling.
At least 2 dozen children of our readers - that we know about - have rendered the use of Ritalin superfluous in the above manner. Many parents protest that they lack the time to invest in their children. Priorities, folks... In the end, they ending up wasting more time running to school counselors, doctors and psychologists, not to mention the money involved either.
One of our readers sent me the following poignant anecdote to bring the point home: A 5 year old boy asked his Daddy one day, “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?” His father was quite peeved and said, “What business is it of yours?” The little boy persisted, so in the end, the father said, “Well, if you must know, I make $20 an hour”. “In that case,” said the little boy, “can I have $9?” His father was furious. He told the little boy to go and sit quietly in his room. Eventually he calmed down, and thought to himself, well, maybe he had a good reason to ask for $9, and he doesn’t ask me for money often. So he went to see his son, and told him, “Perhaps I was too hard on you earlier, and I am going to give you that $9”. When he gave it to him, he saw his son take a number of bills from under his pillow, and add the $9 to it. The father was surprised. “If you had all that money already”, he said, “why did you ask me for more?” “Well”, said the boy, “ I did not have enough money before. But now I do. Can I buy an hour of your time?” Ouch...
Think about it. Our children are precious little souls that Hashem has entrusted in our care. They deserve our love and undivided attention; they don't deserve to be second-fiddle to a cursed smartphone, especially when they have to pay the price of ADHD and Ritalin.
Racheli adds: Just want to make it clear that Rabbi Brody is only speaking about one aspect of the ADHD problem. In the future, G-d willing, we will discuss the relationship between ADHD and food, as well as the problem of children's brains being hyper-stimulated by all sorts of electronic media. Furthermore, we do not advise any parent to take his child off any medication without their doctor's approval!
The most important thing we can do for our children is to make them feel loved, accepted, and wanted. Let's do our best to focus on these three areas, because no matter how much medication a child is on, nothing can cure the feeling of emptiness in his heart.
Our children are not ours to do as we please. Their souls come from Hashem and are a tiny part of Him. Hashem entrusts them in our care for safekeeping, but they don't belong to us. Their bodies, although extensions of us as their DNA indicates, do not belong to us. They are not slaves and we don't own them. The duty of a parent is not to enslave a child or to use a child for his/her own benefit and/or self-gratification. Our responsibility is to raise our child to be a worthy servant of Hashem. By the way, that too is our obligation in regard to ourselves.
My beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush was in Ashdod earlier this week. He gave a shiur on parental obligation that jolted many parents out of their complacency and self-centered mode. As I was listening, I wrote the lesson down, and G-d willing, will be delivering it tonight in English.
Join us today for our weekly shiur and broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled "The Child's Guarantor," a vital shiur than any parent or prospective parent should not miss. It will take place, G-d willing, in the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7PM Israel time (12 noon EST); the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time. If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams.
So my husband sent me this strange picture of a seed. Fascinating, isn't it? Can anybody guess what this is? Well, you won't believe it, but after staring blankly at this seedling for five minutes, hubby finally realized that it is a popcor-en seed! That's right. A pop-cor-en seed. For you ignoramuses, popcor-en is Hebrew for popcorn. I can't make this stuff up. I'm not sure how the "-en" ending turns it into a Hebrew word, but like many things here, logic just don't jive with reality.
So here's another question. Where do you think my husband found this darling little popcoren seedling? I'll give you a hint, since you'll never get it. It was growing inside his sink. Like, mamash (really,) inside the drain pipe. That's a logical place for a popcorn to sprout, no? Well, apparently it is, if you're an Israeli popcoren seed. Then it makes all the sense in the world.
The obvious lesson from this is to not let popcorn seeds go down your drain. They might grow a tree right up from the drain pipe, the same way that I used to believe a GMO gum tree the size of a sequoia might suddenly sprout out of my mouth because I kept swallowing my gum as a kid. That terrified me. The thought of never being able to eat again - God forbid a million times! Did your mothers also scare the living daylights out of you with zombie apocalypse scenarios like my mother did? Why was I so gullible?? Sadly, I still am kind of gullible. Kinda. Sorta.
The logical lesson I got from this is that seeds can sprout anywhere and at any time. Duh. But I'm talking about spiritual seeds, like the kind we plant in our kids, or the seeds we plant for our futures. It may take time to see the effects come about, and we may not even realize that we have planted seeds in the first place. But the seeds definitely will sprout - both for the good and for the bad.
That's why we (especially I) have to be super careful of how we (especially I) treat our (my) kids. Nothing happens suddenly. Not in children's behavior, and not in any area of our lives. We just don't realize that we've been planting seeds the entire time.
So plant wisely. You never know what kind of seed may decide to sprout out of your sink, your toilet, or even worse, out of your stomach. Yuck.
There is a tremendous difference between an accomplishment achieved through tribulations, suffering and difficulties and between something attained the easy way, with no resistance… Enjoy today's emuna lesson, which is a tremendous shot of encouragement, and don't miss Racheli's post below! Blessings for a wonderful week!