On Sunday evening, February 20, Let’s Get Real With Coach Menachem featured Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Founder and Director of Shabbat.com and Regional Director of Olami, on feeling confident when children ask difficult questions.
Coach Menachem Bernfeld introduced the program. He spoke about the need to be sensitive to what children need and to feel comfortable answering their questions. He shared that kids sometimes ask questions and they don’t necessarily want the answer. Children need a listening ear.
Next, Rabbi Klatzko taught that we have to understand the root of where the question is coming from. He shared how once there was a boy who was a Shabbos guest and kept asking questions. Rabbi Klatzko stayed up until very late trying to answer his questions, but the boy finally said, “It’s not the answers that will do it for me. It’s just that I am lazy. I don’t want to do it.”
If we zero in on trying to answer questions without understanding what the child is going through, then even if our answers are logical, they won’t fall on willing ears and hearts. Rabbi Klatzko taught that still it is important to know that the answers exist. The key answers to difficult questions are out there.
In life, it’s good to have an approach on how to answer questions. Throughout our life we will be able to upgrade these answers. As a parent, you should know for yourself that there are good answers that exist even if you or your rabbi don’t know the answers.
Sometimes there is a child in us that has these same questions. It could be that we never received answers, so we are not sure how to respond. When we answer a question, we need to give our children a brief, to-the-point answer in a way that they see our heart believes what we said. The idea of “Yisrael” is that we struggle. If we don’t know an answer, we can say that we don’t know.
You should try to answer to the best of your knowledge. Children see how comfortable you are and that makes a very big impression. We want them to have a connection to Hashem.
When we see them struggling, we begin to project the worst. Our love for our children can’t be conditional on their service of Hashem.
He taught that there is an incorrect concept that science and Torah are at odds. This incorrect idea comes from Christianity. Galileo said that the earth orbits the sun and the Church forced him to recant this teaching. He ended up in house arrest his whole life. Rabbi Klatzko shared that “science is really our understanding of how Hashem does what He does.” Science is the how. It’s not a scary thing. Religion tells us the why. If science tells the why, then that oversteps.
The Torah was not meant to be a science book. It’s a book of character moral teachings that end up in mitzvos that Hashem gave us. “Our goal in life is not to find truth. Our goal is to live up to the truth.”
Someone asked about bad things happening to good people. His answer was: Hashem has given and Hashem has taken away and the name of Hashem is blessed. We learned this from Aharon HaKohen, who lost two tremendous children. His reaction was that he was silent. Sometimes, silence and sympathy is the right approach. When someone experiences a tragedy, our response is to be there with the person in pain.
By Susie Garber