11 Kislev 5781 / Friday, November 27, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
 
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HomeIsrael and SocietyNoahide WorldRaising Children to be Righteous
 
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Raising Children to be Righteous    

Raising Children to be Righteous



Kids of Bnei Noach don’t go to synagogue. They don’t see their dads learning Torah or praying three times a day. So how do you raise a righteous Noahide child?

 



I spend a fair amount of time wondering how to raise a religious kid. On a personal level this is incredibly important to me. For Bnei Noach, this is clearly vital, as it is for Jews. Bnei Noach must do this on our own. There are really no institutions to help us. At least if you were raised in another religion, you could possibly take some cues from that experience, from your own experience being raised religiously. But there are many of us who were raised with nothing like that. I was not raised that way so I am really making this all up as I go along, like a lot of other things about parenting. I am enormously uncomfortable talking about God with our son. It took eons for me to work up the courage to say things like, “Hashem will watch over you while you sleep.” I am still surprised the idea does not frighten him.   He has no idea what I am talking about. It might be unnerving to think that someone is watching him in his sleep. Where is this person? In the attic?

 

I once tried to explain who Hashem was so Jake would not be frightened, not that he was or had even asked for an explanation. I said, “He’s the Big Guy. He made everything.” That was about all I could come up with. Is it now clear why I need some kind of help from a religious institution? A few times, I have prayed with him. When the car will not start I say, “Jake, repeat after me – Please Hashem, start the car.” It has a one hundred percent efficacy rate. I pray on my own, but we do not do public prayer. So what is he learning about prayer? It is a problem.    

 
The other day I was listening to an audio lecture by Rabbi Lawrence Keleman, author of the very popular book on growing good children, To Kindle a Soul. It is an introduction to some of the concepts in his book, which is a Torah approach to raising well adjusted and moral children.
 
 
He suggests that anytime throughout the day that we need for our child to do something, we pray out loud to Hashem and ask Him to help with the situation. Honestly, I think that would look pretty nutty, but it also makes a great deal of sense, it seems to me. It might be a way to teach our son how to pray in at least a rudimentary sense. Kids of Bnei Noach do not go to synagogue. They do not see people saying blessings over each food when they eat. They do not see their dads pray three times per day. This could be a way to show him that there is a Creator with whom we can speak and that one thing we do is ask for help. Of course we could also thank the Creator out loud for things that happen throughout the day as well. 
 
 
Rabbi Keleman says, “There is no room for being shy when it comes to praying for our kids.” When I heard that it made total sense to me. Yes. Yes! What have I been waiting for? Somehow, I so often slip back into a way of thinking about the world as a place where I must do everything. How is it that while doing the hardest job I have ever had I have not involved Hashem left and right? Of course I am always amazed by the beautiful gift our son is, and I know that he is a gift from the Creator and thank Him for our son. I tell our son every day that he is such a blessing. But I never explain what a blessing is. And in the heat of a tough parenting moment I never ask for help. In fact, today there were numerous moments where I felt challenged by some parenting moment and I handled it and then thought, “Hey, I should have asked for help right there. Why do I keep forgetting?” 
 
 
When we found out that I was pregnant, we made large changes in our lives. We wanted to make sure that we did not for one second take this responsibility lightly, that we would give our child our best. The awe we felt towards the Creator, the gratitude, changed us for the better. As those of you who have kids know, often the world you experienced prior to having children fades in your mind. The differences between pre and post baby are so grand the new world forces back the old and supplants it almost totally. Perhaps that is one reason why we have struggled so to teach our son about God. Once he was born we had to move so quickly – make a bottle, change a diaper, catch him before he reaches the stairs, rush off to Toddlercize, don’t forget the diaper bag. It feels like we have never slowed down. And with the lack of tradition and personal experience to draw upon, it has been very easy to keep spirituality a private thing, at least on an everyday basis. 
 
 
I think that in terms of passing on what it means to be a Righteous Gentile, it cannot be only about private introspection that makes us better as people and parents, as vital as all of that is. We have to take the internal dialogue and make it external, even if it feels nutty. One of the very beautiful things about being a Ben/Bat Noach is that if you approach it with simplicity it can be very simple. I know that if you get very gung ho about it, that it not the case. But I think for the vast majority of people on the planet perhaps the simple approach where you pray, you follow basic moral principles, you learn some basic Torah and some history- that is not so intimidating and the benefits of those not so very complicated expectations are enormous; the payoff is huge. I need to remember this with my son and take the leap of faith that he too will experience the power of simply engaging with God. Maybe God will help me out and remind me that I do not need to force this, rather I need to show him how easy it is to open his mouth, say thanks, and to share his thoughts, his wishes, and his needs with his Father.




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  7 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  Third response to Eliahu
Breslev Staff11/19/2020 9:07:59 AM
     
 
  2.
  Second Reply to Eliahu
Breslev Staff11/13/2020 10:44:39 AM
     
 
  3.
  Reply back to Breslev Staff.
Eliahu11/12/2020 2:54:20 PM
     
 
  4.
  Answer to Eliahu
Breslev Staff11/11/2020 6:08:49 PM
     
 
  5.
  Jewish father with Noahide children ?
Eliahu11/3/2020 11:24:34 PM
     
 
  6.
  I don't understand the questions
shea6/1/2015 9:11:13 PM
     
 
  7.
  why not convert?
yehudit levy3/18/2009 11:28:26 AM
     
 

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