V’es Amalaynu, ailu ha’banim. (Haggadah shel Pesach)
Our hard work: this refers to the children: For they are the hard work of man See how much effort man invests to raise them and teach them derech eretz and Torah, and he also works to leave them money after his death. (Ritva, cited by Haggadah shel Pesach Misivta, 5774, page 553)
Our hard work: this refers to the children: The main reason that a person works hard in the ways of Hashem is to make sure that his legacy is passed on to his children. (https://www.sefaria.org/Ephod_Bad_on_Pesach_Haggadah%2C_Magid%2C_First_Fruits_Declaration.15?lang=en)
Torah tziva lanu Moshe, morasha kehilas Yaakov. The Torah was given to us for us to give over to our children. (Siddur Yesod Malchus)
Raising children to derech eretz and Torah is our most valuable and most difficult work. Avraham Aveinu was singled out. Not for his chesed. Not for his bringing the awareness of Hashem and Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis to this world. Avraham was singled out for his ability and willingness to teach his children.
Ki y’dativ l’maan asher y’tzaveh es-banav v’es-baiso acharav v’shamru derekh Hashem la'asos tzedakah u’mishpat. I know him. He will command his children and his household and they will keep the ways of Hashem to do tzedakah and justice. (Braishis 18:19 with Targum and Ramban)
How much are parents expected to invest in the chinuch of their children?
Hakhel Es HaAm H’anashim V’hanashim V’haTaf. Gather the nation, the men, and the women and the taf. (Devarim 31:12)
At the end of every seven years, at an appointed time, in the Festival of Sukkos [following] the year of Shemitah. When all Israel comes to appear before Hashem, Elokecha, in the place [Hashem] will choose, you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears. Assemble the people: the men, the women, the taf… (Devarim 31:10-12)
What are taf? A tinok is an infant, a naar is a child. Taf are toddlers.
The Mitzvah of Hakhel commands the parents to bring their toddlers to this once in seven years event where the King reads aloud from the Torah. (Sefer haChinuch 612)
Why? Aren’t toddlers the most distracting of persons?
Rashi addresses that question and answers cryptically: Why did they come? For no other purpose than that a reward should be given to those who bring them (Chagigah 3a)1
Rav Nosson Adler explains that yes, parents could learn more at hakhel if they didn't have to attend to and be distracted by their children. The lesson is that parents are expected to sacrifice some of their own growth in Torah in order to help their children. (Iturei Torah, volume 6, page 196)
R' Nosson Adler (Rebbi of the Chasam Sofer) points out, although the small children might disturb the laining, and the parents might not be able to concentrate as well, you should still bring them! The Torah is teaching us that the Chinuch of one's children is sometimes more important than the parents doing the Mitzvah on a higher level. Sometimes it is better to give up a bit of your "Shlaimus" of a Mitzvah for the sake of the Chinuch of your children! (http://revach.net/avodah/chanoch-lnaar/Parshas-VaYeilech-Rav-Nosson-Adler-The-Biggest-Sacrifice-A-Parent-Can-Make/4071)
He [Rabban Gamaliel ben Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi] used to say, v’al tomar lichshe'epaneh eshneh, shemma lo tipaneh. (Avos 2:4)
It is told that the Beis HaLevi would send his son Chaimal [Reb Chaim Brisker] on errands during seder in the Bais Hamedrash. Someone asked Rav Yosef Dov why he was sending his son rather than some of the other bochrim. He replied that he wanted his son to acquire the ability to learn well despite interruptions, to be ready for shemma lo tipaneh.
Parents do not say the Baruch sh’pitarani m’onsho shel zeh on the day a child begins school. They should not be thinking Baruch sh’pitarani m’chinuch shel zeh either.
But I really don’t have much time to spend being mechanaich each of my children. That’s why I send them to excellent schools and I am in touch with their mechanchim and mechanchos to make sure they are doing well.
Baruch Hashem, our community does have excellent schools and wonderful mechanchim and mechanchos for our children. You are still, perhaps more than you realize, mechanaich your children.
It is not hard to grasp the concept of v’chol maasecha b’sefer nichtavim in our times. Try removing something from a database, a server, a photo library you never meant to be entered in. Do we care? Will anyone ever look at what’s recorded about us?
Avos told us v’chol maasecha b’sefer nichtavim a long time ago. How seriously do we take it?
Your children take it very seriously. They record and play back in their minds and in their hearts, your words, your deeds, your inflections and tone, your attitudes, your touch and your withdrawal. This is their chinuch. This is how they learn what to expect, what they are worthy of, and how to treat others.
Why does a ganav [burglar], pay double but a gazlan [thief who steals from a person directly] does not? The Talmud (Bava Kama 79b) explains that the Torah deals more harshly with the ganav than with the gazlan because the ganav’s action bespeaks an especially heretical and unacceptable worldview. While the Torah condemns any form of stealing as unacceptable, the ganav has committed an especially heinous sin by respecting man more than he respects G-d. By virtue of the fact that the ganav tries to hide his thieveries from other people, but does not care to “hide it” from G-d, he shows that he cares more about what people think than about what G-d thinks. For this reason, the Torah imposes special penalties on the ganav. The gazlan does not care about what anybody thinks — but at least he does not afford man more respect than G-d. He is therefore exempt from these penalties. (https://ohr.edu/8744)
Sadly, some parents do just the opposite. They are very conscious of their bain adam l’makom at the expense of their bain adam l’chavairo, even when chaveiro is their child.
Hakhel is the source of the sachar, the reward that comes from forming the habit of sometimes placing our children ahead of other priorities. It is what Hashem wants from us and what our children need from us.
1 This gemara concludes: Why do the little ones come? In order to give a reward to those who bring them. [Rabbi Yehoshua] said to them: This good pearl of wisdom was in your hands, and you tried to conceal it from me? See Ben Yehoyada there for an interesting explanation of Rabbi Yehoshua's comment.
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.