4 Shvat 5781 / Sunday, January 17, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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Where’s Your Smile?    

Where’s Your Smile?

Most of my students grew up in religious homes but threw it all away for drugs, porn and iPhones. Could the sour disposition of their parents and rabbis have been the culprit?


Rabbi: “Come on, Moshe, put it on, put on the tallit (prayer shawl) - we are praying now.”


Moshe, 13 years old: “Uh, Rabbi, I don’t want to it’s not my custom, I am Ashkenazi.”


Rabbi: “You NEED to wear it, we are praying right now and you need to listen to me and do what I say!!”


Moshe: “Rabbi, please I don’t want to wear one until I am married.”


Rabbi: “Enough of your attitude, I am going to teach you who is boss around here. Take out a piece of paper and start copying the Letter of the Ramban twice.”


Before this event, which is a true story that happened to one of my closest students, Moshe was living a “religious life.” He wore a black kippa, and had peyot (sidelocks). He would pray in the synagogue and keep Shabbat. After the above incident Moshe had enough.


Moshe is now 17 and is learning in a school where I teach, that is filled with students who have similar backgrounds. Each student has a different story about how one parent or one teacher pushed them away from Torah observance. In a class discussion, Moshe said, “They think they are helping the kids with their anger and discipline but for me and many others it’s the reason I left everything. I don’t even pray anymore, and have doubts about G-d.” Luckily, thanks to an Emuna book that Moshe received, he is now delving into his own personal prayer sessions. Let’s hope this continues…


Most of the students felt during prayer time the stress of being watched over every second. This caused them to feel fake, bored and resentful. Any meaning in what they were doing wasn’t felt due to the constant nagging of the Rabbis and parents to pray, pray, pray. Their quest for spirituality dried up before it even started.


This all came about when I was teaching an English class. Somehow we got to the topic being religious. Most of the students see nothing beautiful in our tradition. They view modesty as stupid and the entire system of religion as a waste of time. The sad part is that most of my students grew up in “religious homes” but threw it all away for drugs, porn and iPhones. Could the sour disposition of their parents and rabbis have been the culprit? Most likely, yes. The parents and teachers showed Judaism as controlling, and angry. This is the complete opposite perspective of “If it’s not joy, it’s not Judaism!”


The common theme with all these problems is that those who were “showing them the right path” had no idea how to relate to these special souls. Granted there are always kids who are less disciplined, but an angry attitude toward them is the least bit helpful. So what do we do if we are trying to build our homes according to Torah and we see that our kids aren’t coming along with us?


Rabbi Shalom Arush goes so far as to say, “Don’t do anything!!! The damage of trying to do anything while angry is far greater than if you were to let the incident go.” Again, the Rabbi is saying that by doing nothing, you are actually helping the situation more than if you were to respond while angry or furious. Unfortunately, the children I work with had parents and teachers that didn’t handle the issues along the lines of emuna and prayer.


With the holiday of Purim arriving, Rabbi Shalom Arush has been emphasizing educational concepts for us. He has been stressing education with joy so that our children will feel the elixir of life that the Torah truly is. But how? The following are full proof points from Rabbi Shalom Arush:






As highlighted in the Garden of Education, the main point is being a role model. A parent has to love to pray in order to convey the message that prayer is good and important. What a person doesn’t have, he cannot give to another.


Ask yourself what is important to you as a parent. Where is your time being spent? What messages are you sending your kids via your actions, both spiritual and material? Remember that your children are looking to see what is truly important to you. If your Facebook messages are causing you to frequently interrupt conversations with your kids, then your children will get the impression that Facebook messages are more important than them. Tip: Try disconnecting from Facebook for two weeks, see how great your life will become. See my article Farewell Facebook.


Being a good example is hard work. How committed are you really to becoming who you deeply desire to be? Since that in essence is who your kids will become. When you show your kids with honesty that you believe in Hashem and you try your best to fulfil His will happily, your child will follow you.


An excellent start to becoming a better parent would be to start investing time in your own spiritual growth. Pick up The Garden of Education as well as In Forest Fields and implement the advice laid out. Your life will change dramatically! As well as your kids…





With the high-paced society of today it’s tragic that we let many of our commandments fly by without any real concentration. We pray fast, mumble blessings, and forget that we are servants of The Creator of the universe. So the tendency to rush with anything religious is quite the norm. “When does Shabbat end, when are services over, etc.” are common remarks young kids, and adults suffer from.


The problem is that we aren’t valuing our observance. Recently Rabbi Brody has been asking his students, “How much are you willing to sell your merit for ONE Shabbat observance?”  No one is willing to sell it for any money in the world! “And what about ONE time for lighting Shabbat candles?” No woman is willing to sell her merit! “And what about ONE time you put on Tefillin?” Again no takers.


So what remains is for us to carry that self-esteem and confidence that you are serving the Master of All, Hashem Almighty! Don’t let your actual bank account fool you into thinking you are not something special. You are a son and daughter of The King, and we need to live with this mindset: That we are all spiritual multi-billionaires.


In conclusion, every parent wants their child to have Hashem in their life. But to get there Rabbi Shalom Arush says that the most important parameter is for the parents to have peace and happiness between one another. Have a happy Purim and welcome to Judaism with Joy!

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