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"Our Children's Champions"

Lev Avos Blog

Exploring Tanach while reflecting on parenthood

"Our Children's Champions"

Yechiel Shaffer

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The world has changed drastically since we were children.

The questions we now face include some of the following:

When do we let our children start using the internet?

When do we talk to our children about the dangers in the world (abusers, bullies etc)?

How much independence do we give to our children?

And truth be told this doesn't even cover the religious dilemmas we face. How do we ensure the level of commitment we would like from our children to their Judaism, especially in a world which has lost its innocence.

Many of the difficulties children face, both acute and average, result in the loss of self esteem. Whether it is, God forbid, a case of child abuse - or a question of under-performing in school, frequently the child will walk away with low self worth and will often need significant support, in many cases of abuse professional help will obviously be necessary.

That being said, we still face the humbling challenge of making our children believe in themselves. This is possibly more important that anything we can teach our children.

"Every kid needs a champion!"

When we examine the role of self esteem in the Torah, the most obvious personality that struggled with it is none other then Moshe. The greatest prophet to have ever lived, the man who endangered his life by killing an Egyptian who was beating a Jew, doubts himself.

His initial words with God are the following:

שמות פרשת שמות פרק ג

.יא) ויאמר משה אל־האלהים מי אנכי כי אלך אל־פרעה וכי אוציא את־בני ישראל ממצרים

And Moshe responds to God: Who am I that I should go in front of the Pharoah?

The greatest man to have lived, in his first communication with God, questions his own worth and value. This should be profoundly reassuring to us and our children. We are supposed to have questions and concerns at the beginning of a journey but these questions should not paralyze our actions. (This message is all true for us 'adults' too)

Perhaps in the world we live in it is impossible to prevent low self esteem, perhaps the questions of self worth our children will face are inevitable? Moshe's life is the most profound of responses to deep rooted fear of inadequacy.

So, can we answer all of the questions above? Not really. Besides for every child being different and unique there is no one-fit-all approach. One of the most important missions we have is to give our children the support and encouragement to make good choices and most importantly, we must be available to listen.

Methods of communication is probably the most drastic of changes that has taken place in recent decades. The expectation of formality that existed in previous generations just don't exist anymore. With our generation pioneering the digital communication age, our children will surely continue to find ways to communicate that are unconventional, unprecedented and unfamiliar to us.

We must remember to listen to all the messages they send and most of all: Be their champion!

Question for further study:

How are we a champion for our children? What practices help us communicate the empowerment message to our kids?

In describing the communication methods God utilizes with the Jewish people, the Midrash states:

שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשת שמות פרשה ה

וכה"א (תהלים כט) קול ה' בכח, בכחו לא נאמר אלא בכח, בכחו של כל אחד ואחד, ואף נשים מעוברות לפי כחן, הוי אומר כל אחד ואחד לפי כחו

And it says (Psalms 29) The voice of God is in strength, it does not say in His (God's) strength rather it say in strength, meaning the voice of God is found in the strength of each individual. It is found even in the strength of the expectant mother, as it says the strength is found according to that which is found in each person.

Why does the the Midrash, specify the strength of the expectant mother (in all fairness the sentence before this quote offers a lengthy list of people in whose strength God's voice is found, nevertheless the question stands out as to why the Midrash would single out the expectant mother)?

Why do expectant parents find God's voice in their lives and how does their inner strength alter our perspective on our own inner strength?

We must remember to listen to all the messages they send and most of all: Be their champion!

Question for further study:

How are we a champion for our children? What practices help us communicate the empowerment message to our kids?

In describing the communication methods God utilizes with the Jewish people, the Midrash states:

שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשת שמות פרשה ה

וכה"א (תהלים כט) קול ה' בכח, בכחו לא נאמר אלא בכח, בכחו של כל אחד ואחד, ואף נשים מעוברות לפי כחן, הוי אומר כל אחד ואחד לפי כחו

And it says (Psalms 29) The voice of God is in strength, it does not say in His (God's) strength rather it say in strength, meaning the voice of God is found in the strength of each individual. It is found even in the strength of the expectant mother, as it says the strength is found according to that which is found in each person.

Why does the the Midrash, specify the strength of the expectant mother (in all fairness the sentence before this quote offers a lengthy list of people in whose strength God's voice is found, nevertheless the question stands out as to why the Midrash would single out the expectant mother)?

Why do expectant parents find God's voice in their lives and how does their inner strength alter our perspective on our own inner strength?