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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Attachment Parenting

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.

Posted on 12/10 at 10:22 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at