V’limad’tem osam es b’neichem, l’dabeir bam
Teach them to your children, to discuss them…
At first glance, this pasuk seems to be repeating the pasuk of “V’shinantam” in the first parshah (paragraph) of Shema. However, upon closer examination, we find two significant changes. Let us examine these two changes and what the Torah is teaching us with the changes in our pasuk.
One change from the first parshah of Shema is the word “v’limad’tem” here, as compared to “v’shinantam” in the first parshah. The Ramban explains that “v’shinantam” means that a father must teach his son the mitzvos and review them with him. “V’limad’tem” means that a father should deepen his children’s understanding and he should explain the reasoning so that the children will speak about the mitzvos on their own at all times.
The second change is that in the first parshah, the Torah uses the words “v’dibarta bam,” while here, in the second parshah, the Torah states, “l’dabeir bam.” The Ramban writes that, earlier, the Torah is commanding us to constantly speak words of Torah (see Shema 14). It is as if the Torah wrote “v’dibarta atah” – and you shall speak [words of Torah]. Here, the Torah is commanding us to train our children to speak words of Torah constantly. The mitzvah here is to infuse in our children the desire and the yearning to learn Torah. It is not sufficient to teach them the “material” of Torah. We must inculcate in them a great love for Torah to the extent that they – on their own – will yearn to learn Torah whenever they have no other obligations or responsibilities.
We must inculcate in our children a great love for Torah
to the extent that they will yearn to learn Torah
whenever they have no other obligations or responsibilities
Certainly, yeshivos put forth tremendous efforts to achieve this goal, but what can we as parents do to perform this mitzvah, beyond sending our children to yeshivah? Rav Asher Weiss writes that we ourselves must have and exhibit a thirst, love, and simchah for Torah. We must make our homes an environment where there exists a palpable love and enjoyment of learning and living Torah. Children who see a true joy in learning and living Torah in their parents will desire the same for themselves. Working on ourselves will motivate our children far more than lectures and other attempts at pushing them.
Tefilah is crucial as well. Paraphrasing Rav Shlomo Wolbe: “It is clear to me that, if I have achieved a tiny measure in Torah, it is in the merit of the tefilos of my mother. I observed her davening for me even ten times a day. Rav Wolbe then writes that it might very well be that tefilos for our children are the most important ingredient in their chinuch” (based on Z’riah U’Binyan B’Chinuch by HaRav Wolbe).
Some natural times to daven for our children are in Birkas haTorah, Ahavah Rabah, U’va l’Tzion, Shemoneh Esrei, and while lighting Shabbos candles. Spontaneous tefilos anytime and anywhere (unless in an unclean location) are always desired by Hashem. Any emotional times, such as when making a bris milah or marrying off a child, are especially opportune times, as our tefilos at those times will likely come with heightened emotion and tears, which make those tefilos particularly powerful.
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