24 Av 5781 / Monday, August 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Our Children's Guarantors

A tremendous spiritual awakening is going on now. On the other hand, a world of darkness and negative influences are pulling young people off the path…


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody



The Torah talks about Judah's determination to free Benjamin at all costs in his confrontation with Joseph. For all Judah knew at the time, Joseph was the Viceroy of Egypt, with the apparent capability of doing whatever he wanted to the sons of Jacob. Yet, Judah was neither deterred nor discouraged. He was determined to protect Benjamin. Where did he get the power and conviction to stand so steadfast against all odds? Jacob entrusted Benjamin to Judah's dependable hands – Judah was the guarantor.


In essence, every Jew is the guarantor for all of the Jewish People. We all have responsibility for our brethren.


If are responsible for every Jew, then we must attend to their welfare. We do that best by spreading emuna, because once a person is connected to G-d, he or she will lack nothing.


If each of us is a guarantor for our entire nation, we certainly must be guarantors for our own children. How do we do this? The best way is personal example, and the best personal example is performing our mitzvoth joyously.


The joy of a mitzvah is worth a million times more than the mitzvah itself. If a mitzvah would be worth a thousand dollars, then the joy of doing it would be worth a billion dollars. Don't think that I'm exaggerating – it's actually a gross understatement. The holy Ariza”l revealed that he attained his lofty spiritual level predominantly by doing his mitzvoth in great joy.


From one standpoint, Judaism is spreading far and wide. There's a tremendous spiritual awakening going on now. Yet, on the other hand, there's a world of darkness and negative influences that's pulling young people off the path of observant Judaism. We combat this painful phenomenon by doing our mitzvoth joyously. When our children see how the mitzvoth are our source of joy in life, they'll never leave the path of Torah and mitzvoth.


But, if Mom and Dad are bored in their lackluster service of Hashem, then their children will certainly search elsewhere for thrills and happy times. If the Shabbat table is a nightmare of criticism and sternness within a stifling, suffocating atmosphere, the children will look for other places to have a good time on Friday night, Heaven forbid. Every parent must remember – he or she is the guarantor for their child. As guarantors, we must assume responsibility.


There is nothing so effective in child education as parental example, especially when a parent visibly derives joy from performing a mitzvah. Without saying a single word, the parent who gleefully performs a mitzvah is passing two important messages to his children – the love of Hashem and the love of His Torah. If parents are happy, the children will want to be like them. If the parents are not happy, the children will look for happiness out in the street, Heaven forbid.


Understand this: when Hashem gives you a child, you're the guarantor. You signed for responsibility of that child. Your main responsibility is to be a worthy example for the child and to do your mitzvoth in joy. It's not enough to do your mitzvoth with kavanna – with intent; a parent must perform them joyously as well. Don't forget that your children are looking at your every move.


Like everything else, successful child-rearing requires loads of prayer. In addition to prayer, I want to stress two important points in raising successful children who will happily continue on the path of Torah:


  1. Don't look for shortcomings in your children; search for the shortcomings in yourself and that will automatically bring about a change for the better in your children;


  1. Monitor your children, especially who their friends are. Pray daily that they develop a love of Torah, emuna and spiritual awareness.


All the above advice is for a child who is still on the path of observant Judaism. We must be dedicated in implementing this, for like Judah was to Benjamin, we as parents are our children's guarantors.


Our task is so critical that we must move our children way up on our list of priorities. If need be, we must put aside our own learning in order to learn with our children. We must put aside our own prayers in order to pray for them.


So what does a person do if his or her child has fallen off the path of observant Judaism? A parent must pray daily on behalf of an off-the-path child. If a parent really loves the child, he'll have no problem devoting a 6-hour personal prayer session to bringing that child back to the fold. With my own eyes, I've seen tremendous miracles from the "magical big six."


Don't forget – anytime we lack something, it's because we lack prayer. Hashem is our loving Father in Heaven and He wants us to have everything, including wonderful children. But, the entire reason for the Diaspora is that we don't believe that Hashem wants each of us to have everything. Prayer creates vessels for abundance. With sufficient prayer, we merit abundance. Anything we attain with prayer is good for us, while that which comes without prayer is detrimental.


As guarantors, we must pray profusely for good children; Hashem will be glad to give them to us.

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