Education, shlichus etc.

I was reading an article about a shaliach who , due to the difficult financial situation, could not rely on his usual supporters for constant help. He was unable to continue providing everything for guests , programs etc. so he enlisted the help of his community members. When there was an event, he told this one to bring soda, that one to bring bread, the other one to bring cookies etc. And the reaction was overwhelming. People loved it. To the extent that even when things improve financially he plans to continue involving his community in his projects. Not to just provide everything but to get people involved.
That made me think: it is the same with family. When your kids feel that you just provide them with everything and they are not active participants in everything, they do not appreciate properly and they don’t have the same enthusiasm. But when you get your kids involved in everything: cooking, cleaning, planning family outings, shopping, taking care of guests, preparing for Shabbos etc. etc. then the children feel enthusiastic, part of planning, included in everything: they feel that they matter. They also feel a unity within the family which is very important: everyone feels their role is necessary. They feel connected and working together. This is a great way to promote achdus, enthusiasm, and appreciation for everything. They realize food does not drop down from Shomayim cooked. Money does not grow on trees. It is hard work to have guests. They understand what parents go through and how much work goes into running a family.

The benefits are two fold: they learn to appreciate their parents and family. And they also learn how to run a household for when they get married, so they are well prepared, not spoiled, and not lacking in skills. This is very good for marital harmony and a good preparation for life.

The word in Hebrew for baby is tinok which has the same letters and is related to the word tikkun, correction. Every person that comes into the world has their special mission in life to fulfill, and every baby brings about a tikkun, a correction, for the world and specifically for their parents. The child who is bright or good-looking helps us work on our trait of pride or arrogance; the child who is slow or repetitive helps us work on our trait of patience. This child comes to teach you how to love, this one how to give. This one teaches you how to give-in, and this one teaches you how never to give-up.

So whenever you find yourself feeling upset with a particular child or feeling even embarrassed about a particular child’s behavior, start thinking differently. Recognize how every child truly is a blessing from Hashem and how each child helps us to grow spiritually and perfect ourselves. 

Every child brings with himself or herself blessings. Each child is a whole world, a whole neshomah to nurture and raise. It is a great responsibility and we have to work hard to educate our children properly and make sure they turn out to be yirat Shomayim , pure and good. We have to instill good character traits in our children and correct negative traits.  If Hashem gives us a particular child, we have the responsibility and the merit to take care of that neshomah. For those who feel that every additional kid is chasve shalom a burden or a financial responsibility, let me remind you that every kid brings more blessings including greater parnassa. Hashem would not give you a child and not provide the means to care for that child. When we truly trust in Hashem and do what Hashem wants with simcha, we see great miracles and blessings in front of our eyes. 

People are confused in today’s society. Things are not the way they were fifteen years ago. The darkness of galus is strong and people have lost a sense of truth, a sense of direction. People stumble in the darkness. 

Many parents ask why kids are going off the derech more than ever before. There is no easy answer. But one thing that is important is to realize that the system that used to work before, is no longer working the same way. By that I mean everyone feels children have to go to school to get a proper education and they must have friends, a social life etc. Children should not be burdened with too much work or responsibilities at a young age. 

But all of this is not necessarily correct.

The educational system of today is not at all what is used to be or what is should be. Friends are not what they used to be. The environment has deteriorated. And due to peer pressure, and comparing oneself to one’s friends, many children are going off the derech because they see their frum friend doing such and such so why cant they? Or they see that somehow the boundaries that used to be taken for granted, no longer seem to be in effect the same way. The atmosphere or kelipa, impurity, immodesty abounds in all countries, in all sectors of society. Children learn from what they see. Of course the home exerts a tremendous influence on children and that has to be a stable, secure, and very holy force in a child’s life.

But friends have a huge influence and unfortunately many kids are confused and lacking in good middos and in yiras shomayim and they pull other kids down with them. 

So it is extremely important to do away with the attitudes that could destroy your kids.

Number one, your child does not have to go to school unless that school is up to your standards and is not intent on inundating your child with wrong attitudes, too many secular studies etc.  If the school is not what it should be, keep your kids home and home school them. It may sound difficult but the benefits are tremendous. Or, alternatively, get together with other parents and start your own classes in your own homes with a private teacher. There are many options possible with a bit of creative thinking.

No, your kid does not need a diploma! It is absolutely not important for a child to feel without a diploma they cannot make a living. Parnassa is from Hashem. Yes, we have to make a keli, but not at the expense of our children turning out to be yiras shomayim and good “kosher “ Jews. 

Even if kids are at home bored, it is better than running around with wrong friends.

Kids need rules , limits, and they need to be given jobs and projects to do to keep them busy. IT is very good to have kids do chesed projects (helping a woman who gave birth, visiting the sick etc.) in order to learn responsibility and to see what life is all about and to develop an attitude of helping and giving, rather than taking.

Kids do not need the latest cell phone, MP3, I phone or their own computer! Kids do not need a credit card to spend as they wish. And kids do not need their own car to run around with. The more a child feels they have to have many material things or to be like everyone else, the more damaging that is. The more a child feels that life means being on facebook all day, the more we have failed to instill proper values in our children.

Children need to know what is important and what is essential . Even if you are rich and can afford to give your kid their own credit card, it is not advisable. Kids don’t know how to spend. And even if they do, being in the habit of spending indiscriminately or spending constantly is not a good habit to develop (especially for girls when they marry and their husbands may not be making a great parnassa in the beginning). We have to train our children how to save money, how to value what they have, how to appreciate what they have and how to work hard. 

You do have to know who your kids friends are. And in general there is no need for kids to run around with friends at all hours of the day and night. Kids should learn to be happy at home. Kids should learn to value family. And kids should not feel they have to have many friends to be happy. I am not saying a child does not need to socialize. But it has to be done in the right way or suddenly you will find your teenager staying out late at night with all kinds of friends you may not approve of, doing things you may not be aware of and soon enough things deteriorate and your kid may no longer respect your advice or opinions the way they should. It is a subtle influence. 

You do have to provide the tools for your child to stand firm against all the winds of society. Even if your kid does end up going out with friends, your child should have enough moral strength from your home to know it is wrong to go to a bar drinking, or to go to a disco even if the other frum kids are doing that. Your kid has to have limits. That comes with constant education at home, talking to your kids, making your kids aware of right and wrong; of morality and purity. And it comes with learning chassidus. This is the key to survival in today’s turbulent world. Chassidus and more chassidus. Have them learn Tanya baal peh (by heart). Just to have words of kedusha in ones mind brings salvation. 

I have observed that children of shluchim who live in isolated communities tend to turn out more frum,  stronger and they do not go off the derech as much. Why? Because they are brought up to be strong in a difficult environment, to be doing for others and giving and busy helping rather than concentrating on themselves, and they do not have time to be so spoiled. They also are often home schooled and do not have all the negative social influences others suffer through. There are many blessings in disguise as well as openly revealed. 

I was thinking today how Hashem directs people’s lives. Sometimes we, as parents, are not happy when a child goes to a certain place or pushes to go to work for someone in a particular country etc. We may prefer to keep our children near us. Or we may worry about what influence that place may have on our children. And sometimes it may happen that a child will go off in a wrong direction for  a while….may hang out with “wrong” friends etc.  We as parents worry and pray and feel often powerless to do much.

However, today I realized that even those situations are Divinely ordained. Hashem guides people to various places and situations in life….these situations are what shape us and what bring out our potentials. Everyone goes through different situations in life. Some people suffer from infertility, some people suffer imprisonment, some people suffer illness or unhappy marriages or poverty, Hashem yirachem for everyone and everything. But at the same time, every experience causes us to grow, to learn, to develop and to bring out our hidden strengths and potentials. Hashem knows exactly how to guide each of us so we learn what He wants us to learn, so we see and hear and understand what He wants us to…

For example, we may be born in a certain city and grow up developing our yiddishkeit and attitudes based on what we see in our community etc.  But then if Hashem wants us to grow more, He may decide we should move to another city, country etc. so we get to see how other yidden do things and understand others better. Every experience helps us grow and learn. 

Sometimes chasve shalom we may even have negative experiences that seem horrible, disappointing, difficult and we cannot fathom what good there is in such an experience. But even that is from Hashem. It could be to strengthen us, or to cause us to reach a level where we reject utterly that particular kelipa or evil or impurity or experience. Everything ultimately serves a purpose for Hashem. But sometimes the going is rough….

Even if a child, chasve shalom, does go off the derech to some degree, even to a large degree, we as parents have to keep praying, have faith and keep a loving relationship with that child (all the while being careful that the child does not exert a negative influence on the other children at home).  Of course we have to make it clear to our children what our religious standards are and not compromise on those or give the idea that we accept the wrong things our kids do. But to reject our children when they don’t turn out the way we want, or to be embarrassed by our children in front of others, is not a proper reaction. The child feels it and moves further away. It does untold damage to our relationship with our child. And it serves no beneficial purpose in the long run. Why should we worry about what our friends or neighbors or community members will think, rather than what our children will feel? We have to keep things in perspective. (of course if a child chasve shalom marries out of the faith, that is a different matter and may require a different reaction).

But we also have to realize that this child is also being guided by Hashem in life and there will be a time for the child to come back. Everything is calculated. We have to understand that this child possesses great potentials and could actually rise to a high level of holiness.

Sometimes the children who seem the most difficult turn out the best and give the most nachas. Sometimes the children who seem so frustrating, later pass huge tests in life and we see their potential which we could not realize before.

We cannot be judgmental. We do not know the whole picture: why each soul is on this earth. We do know that if Hashem gave that neshomah to us to be parenats for, we have to guard that neshomah to our greatest ability and to constantly pray for the neshomah to fulfill its potential and purpose down here.

Of course, as my husband always says, he never likes to take chances in life. He believes in guarding and protecting children to a great degree so they never are put in a position of a test or of falling. At least to whatever degree we can do so. If Hashem wants otherwise, obviously Hashem knows how to bring situations about to accomplish what He decrees. But we, as parents, should do our utmost to watch over and protect our children because today’s society is corrupt, is confusing, and we need to infuse holiness, kedusha and emuna into our children.

Many people today despair of redemption. I suppose that is a sign the redemption is really close. But it is hard to keep one’s enthusiasm, chayus and simcha going. And children are affected as well. So today we need more guard rails, more protection, more fences….

I was thinking the other day about how Hashem provides parnassa for every Jew. And then I remembered learning how Hillel hazaken used to pray to Hashem to provide his food even when the food was in front of him. I never understood that. But now I suddenly understand what it means. 

We get used to a particular salary or income and to a certain life style. We start to take it for granted. And we also may feel that our “hard work and the work of our hands” create our wealth or success. (as Chassidus elaborates that this is one of the arguments of the yetzer hara that cause a person to forget where their blessings and success come from).

But in one moment, in one instant, if Hashem so desires, He could take away everything from a person (chasve shalom, Hashem yirachem).  And I do know people who have literally lost everything overnight. I am sure many of you may know people who lost all their savings on the stock market when it plunged….or people who gave their life savings to Bernie Madoff and lost it all….these are from Hashem because a particular person was destined to lose his wealth, for whatever reason.

So whatever we imagine we have, is only because we get used to it. But everything has to be viewed as a gift from Hashem (and an undeserved gift, at that) and we have to realize that even when we have something in our hand, we have to pray constantly to Hashem to give it to us, to continue giving us, to protect whatever we have, and to allow us to use everything for holiness, for tzedaka and chesed. We never should feel sure about anything. 

I was reading about Shalom Rubashkin… he went from being the owner of and running such a huge meat processing plant, distributing tzedaka and helping so many yidden,  to suddenly sitting in prison and his family receiving help from other kind yidden.  May Hashem bless him with an immediate geulah and take him out of that horrible mitzraim and restore him to his former days of glory, and even better.  Certainly this is a miscarriage of justice and he deserves to be freed immediately. May Hashem have rachmonos on him and all Jewish prisoners and captives. 

But we do learn from this that one can never take anything in life for granted. 
We have to constantly ask for Hashem’s rachamim and mercy and to constantly acknowledge and recognize where our blessings come from. 
And we also have to constantly pray for Rubashkin and others in a similar situation because we must not forget or lose compassion for the suffering people go through. We can imagine how his wife and children feel…we can imagine how he himself feels….there is always hope, but there is also a feeling of distress, of helplessness….it is a constant up and down from depression to hope and back to despair…may nobody know of such things! Please keep him and all Jewish prisoners in your prayers.