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And you shall teach your children well:How to inspire the next generation

04/11/2022 09:33:59 AM


Rabbi Ranon Teller

Pesach is coming. The core mitzvah of the seder experience is to tell the story of Egypt to our children in a way that they can understand. The reason that why we have all the elaborate rituals is to penetrate the hearts of our children. The wisdom of the seder is…in order to get our kids involved, we have to use the power of questions.

In the first paragraph of the sh’ma, we see the imperative to teach our children – “and you shall diligently teach our children” in the Hebrew it’s “V’shinantam levanecha”. Usually, when we want to say the word ‘teach’ in Hebrew, we use a different word, “V’limad’tem”. So, what does ‘v’shinantem’ imply? The word comes from the word ‘sharp’, specifically a sharp arrow, in the Hebrew Chatzei gibor shinunim (Psalms 120:4).Why? Why are we supposed to teach our children with sharp arrows”?

Rabbi Moshe Alshich, the Alshich Hakadosh (the Holy), teaches that to teach with a “sharp arrow” means that the learning gets inside the soul. The learning doesn’t just stay in the air, the learning doesn’t stay on the outside of your body, rather the learning gets inside of your heart, inside your mind, inside your soul - inside of you. It penetrates your soul. So, what does it mean to teach like a sharp arrow?  

But the Alsheich asks a second question. How do we teach in a way that the learning really gets inside the hearts and minds of our children? How do we teach in a way deeply affects the whole being of the students of our next generation?

Here’s his answer: Usually we think about teaching as words or lectures, like mouth to ear communication. But, the Alshech Hakadosh answers with one poetic sentence. “Words that come from the heart, enter the heart.”

We can only inspire our next generation, if we ourselves are inspired. Lead with passion and loving-kindness, and the next generation will follow.

Mon, September 25 2023 10 Tishrei 5784