I had an eye-opening experience this Yom Kippur. No, nothing to do with the busload of children I saved from terrorists during the Chazzon’s repetition of Shachris, and no, nothing to do with the battle against the Romulans during Mussaf (perhaps I need to work on my concentration skills). My soon-to-be 11-year-old stayed the entire davening, and then, during the break, we sat and learned together for an hour in Gemara. THAT was strange. I’m thankful that my wife had all the meals scientifically planned out for the day before Yom Kippur, so the fast itself went well. With a lack of headache or serious weakness, I used my entire break properly, most of it with him. And, even though it’s his second year learning Gemara, he’s able to learn pretty well, so he was not dependent on me; if anything, I was dependent on him. May it only continue…
Some people have written in asking for a return “to the good old days” of regular Dvrei Torah. If you agree or disagree, please email me, so I have an idea of which direction to go. I was thinking, if that’s what people want, to change it slightly, so that I will send out dvrei Torah based on things that I saw or learned over the week, not necessarily connected to the parsha. Too many times, I had something good, and “saved” it for six months later, only to forget what I wanted to write. I think this week, I’ll give an example, and you tell me what you think.
So, here we go:
On Rosh Hashanah, I was able to finish the Gemara Sukkah, which, by the way, I highly recommend. It’s not too difficult, full of interesting halachos and pieces of history. The one small problem was, I wanted to drop everything, and learn it again, but all the way through to modern-day halacha. So tempting….
Anyhow, the last piece of Gemara talks about one of the families of Cohanim (they were split into 24 groups, each one serving one week in the Beis HaMikdash), named “Bilga.” This particular family was punished and had three "penalties" against them which set them apart from the other families. The Gemara gives two possible reasons for this punishment. The first is that one of the daughters of this family married a Greek officer during the time of Chanukah. And when the Greeks entered the Beis HaMikdash, she marched in, took off her sandal, and started hitting the Altar, yelling at Hashem for “stealing money from His people.” Another reason given is that this particular family always showed up late for their turn, forcing the previous family to stay later.
The Gemara asks, in the second option, we understand why the entire family got punished, since the entire family behaved this way, but why should the entire family be punished for the actions of one woman? The Gemara then answers that generally, a child repeats in public what he hears in private. This girl was merely continuing on the ways of her family, but this time, doing it in public.
To me, I see no contradiction between the two opinions.
When one is lax in his own mitzvos, it will most certainly have an effect on the children, who will continue to take it a step further. Nearly every father who regularly comes in late to davening in the morning has teenaged or married sons who come in later than they. Conversely, nearly every father who regularly comes on time has sons who come on time, too. What is important to the parents, generally, is important to the children. What is not so important to the parents, is even less important to the children.
Sometimes it is difficult to come to shul on time, but during those times, we should forget about ourselves and think, “Do I really want this to be an issue for my children as well?” And not just regarding coming to davening on time should we think about this, but rather with all our mitzvos. The more importance we put on them, the more importance our children will put on them as well.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and Sukkos and we’ll speak again after Simchas Torah.