Shomer pesayim Hashem, Hashem protects the simple.  (Tehilim 116:6)

Keivan d’dashu bei rabbim, shomer pesayim Hashem. Since this is common practice, Hashem protects the simple. (Shabbos 129b)

That principle reflects the truism that all human activity is accompanied by a measure of danger but that Halacha takes no cognizance of danger below a certain threshold level.  (Contemporary Halakhic Problems Volume IV, J. David Bleich, Ktav Publishing House, NY, 1995, page 373)

Is it safe to take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon?  Tragically, it wasn’t on August 10, 2001.

Is it safe to drive on the Nassau Expressway?  Tragically, it wasn’t on April 4, 2018.

Is it safe to eat in a pizza shop? Tragically, it wasn’t on August 9, 2001 at a pizza shop on the corner of Rechov Yaffo and Melech George.

We know the principle chamira sakanta mei’isura , that we are to be even more cautious with danger than with prohibitions. (Chulin 10a)  Yet, when the danger is very unlikely we must go on with our lives.  So we take helicopter tours, drive on the Nassau Expressway, and eat in pizza shops, no matter where.

We also send our children to school with adult staff.  We sometimes send them to play sports led by adult coaches, and we sometimes send them to meet with adult therapists.  The risk of danger in these settings is so very slight that we are justified in trusting that our children will be safe.

Nonetheless, ever since Columbine and tragedies like it, some children are fearful of places and people they used to trust.

If your child asks you about a tragic event, don’t answer right away.  First, ask your child what they know about that event.  Then ask them what they think about it.  If your child is fearful, ask him what he wants to do.  He may want to avoid a person or place.  If she is fearful about a situation that she shares with others, see if you can arrange for her to speak with her friends about their thoughts and concerns.  They may be able to reassure one another.

If it is a situation that your child is facing alone, tell her what you would do in his situation.  If you would consider the risk to be negligible, say so.  If your child is very young, assure her that she will be fine; don’t mention risk at all.  The definition of young child is, as alway, al pi darko.

If your child asks you, but what if questions, you may have to tell her what you tell yourself: Since this is common practice, Hashem protects the simple.  Hashem takes care of us in what if situations, and they almost never happen.

We always trust Hashem.  And we always do our hishtadlus, our due diligence.  If there is a known threat, we address it.

Here is a story that demanded a parent’s hishtadlus.  I have disguised the genders because this could take place in any school with any child.

A parent brought a child to me to tell me what the child was told after an incident in school.  The child said that the principal came into their classroom and announced that a parent had called and was unhappy about something that had happened to a child in that school.  The principal informed the class that what happens in school is to stay in school.

I urge every parent to make it clear to every child that any time that an adult tells them to keep something secret, they should immediately tell their parents.  It is then the responsibility of these parents to inform other parents of this danger.  Hishtadlus must include responsibility for the wellbeing of others.

The most effective way to keep your child safe in every situation is to make sure she knows she can trust you with the truth of what happens to her, no matter what she thinks she did that she feels bad or ashamed of.

Children usually blame themselves for things that happen to them and are ashamed to tell anyone.  When they don’t tell anyone it becomes more likely that it will happen to them again.  Your most valuable hishtadlus is to make sure your child trusts you with their shame.

Trust is the essential basis of a relationship.  What does it take to earn and maintain trust?

I found the following description of the prerequisites for trust to be helpful:

Boundaries: You respect my boundaries, and when you're not clear about what's okay and not okay, you ask. You're willing to say no.

Reliability: You do what you say you'll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don't over promise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

Vault: You don't share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you're not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

Integrity: You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

Nonjudgment: I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment. We can ask each other for help without judgment.

Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.  (Atlas of the Heart, B. Brown, PhD, MSW, Random House, New York, 2021, Page 192)

I believe you can find every one of these in Pirkei Avos, the chapters that teach us how to be parents.  Do your hishtadlus to learn and practice them and you will have the nachas that comes from a relationship built on trust.


Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with specialties in marriage, dating, and parenting.

He is the author of Confident Parents, Competent Children, in Four Seconds at a Time  Available at bookstores and on Amazon.

He can be reached at 718-344-6575.