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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Attachment Parenting

By Rabbi Sender Haber

Yosef Hatzaddik was a teenager with most of the Jewish world out to get him. He stayed strong. The wife of his boss Potiphar tried to seduce him but he would not give in. He sat in jail for that. The Gemara in Sota tells us that Yosef able to hold back from sin because he saw a reflection of his father in the window. Some point out cleverly that Yosef looked like his father. It was his own reflection that he saw, but it reminded him of his father and inspired him to withstand sin.

A seventeen year old boy who had been shunned by 90% of the Jewish population stayed faithful to his religion and it was his parents that helped him do that.

So many people read this story and think about how we need to strive to live up to our parents’ expectations. I’d like to approach it from the opposite direction. Look what parents can do for their children. We need to be those people for our children. When our children think of religion they need to think of people who are impeccably honest, genuine, good people. They need to envision parents who are constantly working to better themselves and are constantly learning and growing.

The Baal Shem Tov writes that the essence of a child is his parents. A child’s parents form a spark that sits deep inside that child’s neshama. Even when the parent’s are not around, the child is influenced by that holy spark, that eternal DNA, that pushes the child to grow.

If parents are insincere, vain or hypocritical that spark won’t be the same. If the parents are searching for holiness and truth, the inside their child spark will do the same.

I once spoke with a man who was not religious but at one point in life he began to put on Tefillin daily. Several years later he realized that he could not put on tefillin any more so he called his father and asked him to start putting on tefillin instead. He did.

The story makes no sense halachically but it made sense to this man. He understood that his father’s performance of Mitzvos would affect his neshama deeply. It would enhance his spirituality and his own desire to grow.

If we have a desire to grow and become closer to Hashem, chances are that we inherited that from our parents. It may not always be obvious, but it is usually true. And if our children are to have that driving spark, we will need to be there for them.

There are so many outside influences that affect children in today’s world. There is no way that we can control everything. But we can work on that spark, that inner influence of parenthood that gives our child something to reflect upon and something to keep them growing in the right direction.

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