Vay’yisrotzatzu habanim b’kirba, the children ran [figuratively] inside of her.  (Braishis 25:22)

Vay’yisrotzatzu habanim b’kirba: When she [Rivka Emeinu] stood at batei knesses and batei midrash, Yaakov moved convulsively to go out...  And when she passed by houses of idolatry, Esau ran and moved convulsively to go out.  (Braishis Rabbah 63:6)

Stood at batei knesses and batei midrash: With reference to batei knesses and batei midrash it says stood, implying that she did this regularly, that this was her main activity, to serve Hashem.  With reference to houses of idolatry it says passed by, that she quickly passed them on her way.  (Maharzu, ibid)

Note: The Maharzu is commenting on the text in the Midrash Rabbah.  Standard texts of Rashi omit the distinction between Rivka’s standing at places of Torah and passing by houses of idolatry, and attribute the running to Yaakov rather than to Esau.  And the redactor on Rashi incorrectly cites Braishis Rabbah 63:7.  It is Braishis Rabbah 63:6.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah: happy is the woman that gave birth to him.  (Avos 2:8)

From the day that he was born, she did not remove his crib from the study hall, so that only words of Torah would enter his ears.  (Ra’av, ibid)

What is the impact of hearing one side of a phone conversation for much of gestation?

It depends on the tone and content of that one sided conversation.  If the fetus is hearing words of Torah, such as drashos, ha’aros, divrei chizuk, divrei hisorarus, savlanus, or compassionate tochacha, he or she will absorb that Torah as did Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah.

After a baby is born, the phone becomes much more of a challenge to effective parenting.  Hearing one side of a conversation deprives an infant, a toddler, a child, and an adult, of direct human contact.  That deprivation is most harmful to the youngest of listeners who are not being spoken or listened to.  Too many parents spend far more time talking on the phone rather than talking with their children.  Every time I see a parent pushing a stroller while talking on their cell phone I think of the lost opportunity to enrich their child.

Perhaps the worst case outcome I have ever heard was from the mom who told me that she has never said “I love you” to her now teenaged daughter.  I asked her to see if she could say that to her daughter during the coming week, and if she was not able, to write down what she was thinking about and feeling when she tried and couldn’t.

This mom did try.  She reported that was able to tell her daughter that she loved her.  Via text.

Our brains are sensitive to both the message and the medium.  Her words may have been sincere but her message was muted.  It is never too late to make some connection, but the connection may never become as strong as it would have been had it been made when her daughter was very young.

Numerous studies have shown that young brains tend to be more sensitive and responsive to experiences than older brains.  The value of talking to your baby, reading to your toddler and asking him questions, engaging your preschooler in reciprocal play and two way conversation, is immense.

Numerous studies have shown that spending time together while reading aloud helps to create strong parent-child bonds and promotes healthy brain development. Children that are read to more often have improved language and listening skills, and experience stronger emotional connections to their loved ones.

Research reveals it is a highly interactive experience—it’s a partnership. Children choose books, kids and parents ask questions of each other, turn pages and punctuate the experience with sound effects. This interactivity fuels the child-parent bond that children express when asked to describe why they love(d) read-aloud time: “My mom and dad sit and we read together. We spend time together reading the books and laughing and talking,” an 8-year-old girl explained.

More than 80% of both kids and parents across all income levels and child’s age love or like read-aloud time a lot.

In 2014 the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines encouraging parents to read to their children beginning at birth, saying it enhances parent-child bonding and prepares babies’ brains for language and literacy skills. 

Why is read-aloud time loved so much? Parents and children say it is because it is a special time with each other (see Figure 2). And this feeling stays with children as they grow older, as a 17-year-old boy shared: “It was quality one-on-one time with my parents and I have special memories of picking out the books that they would read with me.”  (

It is important to educate parents about  early childhood development, and on just how much critical brain development goes on in the first few years of life. to educate the public about the needs of young children.  The age segregation in our society, the lack of integration of these key concepts into public education and the limited experience many people have with young children before they have their own still puts far too many parents and their children at risk.

(Excerpted from Perry, B. D., & Szalavitz, M. (2007). The boy who was raised as a dog. Basic Books)

Are child-appropriate audio presentations suitable substitutes for parents?  According to the Mishna Brurah, b’chol hamitzvos, mitzvah bo yosair mi’bshlucho, it is best when the mitzvah is done by the one given the mitzvah rather than by an appointed agent.  (Siman 250, Mishna Brurah 3)

The mitzvah of chinuch habanim, including very young banim, is too precious to be assigned to an audio player.  Put down the phone and pick up your child.  It will be uplifting for both of you.


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.