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Thought for the Day: Protecting Your Children -- Serve HaShem With Joy

I heard a cute story on a recording of a lecture by R' Yisroel Belsky this morning.  I also heard a horrifying story.  There was also a story that initially shocked me, then saddened me.

Here's the cute story: When R' Belsky was six or so, his mother showed him a cartoon from the Saturday Evening Post with two children each holding a large cluster of grapes.  One child was beaming with joy, the other crying and whining to his mother: "He... he... he got 23 grapes and I ONLY GOT 22! "  His mother intent, obviously, was to show how ridiculous it is to cry or to even notice such and "inequity" when you are yourself holding a fortune.  The obviousness of that message is clear to R' Belsky now, but the six year old edition was struck by the tragedy of the horrible injustice.

The moral: You can't affect how your children will process information.  The same input data will be understood completely differently by a child than an adult.  In fact, I heard R' Noach Weinberg (another recording, sigh) say we all understand the tragedy of even a precocious five year old who acts and thinks the same way when he is 10; it is the same tragedy if even a brilliant 65 year old thinks and acts the same when he is 70.  Life is growth and change; you can't and shouldn't expect your children to understand things they way you do.

Here's the horrifying story: a pre-1A/nursery school/preschool/whatever the current term in vogue for that setting was getting ready for their play Shabbos celebration.  The Shabbos Abba/Tati/Daddy and Ima/Mommy were chosen.  The Shabbos Abba stood up to make kiddush, then sat down, but his head in his hands, and cried "Oy... what a week I've had..."

The moral: children certainly do pick up on feelings and emotions.  They are affected deeply by them because they don't have the context of living experiences to put them into perspective.  R' Belsky quoted R' Moshe's famous vort to say that the reason we lost so many children last century was because of one simple statement, "ס'איז שווער צו זייַן אַ איד"/It's hard to be a Jew.  Children from a very young age pick up on our attitudes and feelings; both positive and negative.

Shocking story: R' Belsky's father had the zchus to daven with the Chafeitz Chaim for two years.  That's not the shocking part.  Here's the shocking part: that minyan struggled to get 10 each day.  Why?  The Chafeitz Chaim tended to daven slowly, so the minyan took at least five minutes longer than the other minyanim in town.  Why "at least"?  Sometimes the Chafeitz Chaim would speak for five or 10 minutes after davening.  People were busy!  Who has time to spend and extra five or even 15 minutes at shul in the morning!

Isn't that shocking?  A short video that includes a few seconds of the Chafeitz Chaim just walking was recently discovered and went viral.  People around the world have rushed to their computers just to see the face of the holy Chafeitz Chaim for a few seconds.  Imagine having he opportunity to hear him speak?  And to daven with him?  Yet, we are also still busy and often not looking to be able to daven with R' Fuerst and the many other chashuv rabbanim in our city.

R' Belsky grew up in a house filled with the joy of being Jewish with a father who modeled the behavior of looking for the best way to infuse his own life with spirituality and R' Belsky has grown into one of our g'dolei ha'dohr.  Just saying.

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