A number of years ago, during the week after Pesach ended, I was doing some pre-Shabbos shopping with our then-eight-year-old son Shalom. While we were driving to the store, we were listening to the weather report, which called for a chance of severe storms, including hail. Shalom became very concerned and began asking me a whole bunch of questions about when and how the hail would fall.
I realized that he understood hail as the hail that struck Egypt during the Ten Plagues. I explained to Shalom that, although not so common, it was relatively normal for hail to fall. I also explained that the hail we experience does not contain a mixture of fire and ice that would pummel the entire area, as it miraculously did during the plague in Egypt.
It is always fascinating to view things from the perspective of a child. There is an earnest sincerity and innocence in their perception of the world, which is often vastly different from the way we view things. Although at times it is humorous, at other times it can be unnerving at how they view events and people around them, and at how literally they believe what they are taught.
That year, our then-three-year-old son Avi kept telling his morah in school that he didn’t like Pesach or the Seder, and that he hated karpas. To us it was an enigma: Who isn’t excited about the Seder? And what is there to hate about a small piece of potato dipped in salt water?
Over the course of Yom Tov, we realized that he was afraid of Pesach because he was taught that on Pesach we go out of Mitzrayim, and he didn’t want to leave home. He was also taught that the karpas is dipped in salt water because it reminds us of tears. Avi didn’t want to eat the karpas if it would make him cry.
When one of our children learned that when Mashiach comes all the Jews in the world will fly to Yerushalayim on the wings of eagles, he came home with a slew of questions for us: “Will there be seat belts? Will I be able to take my tennis racket? What if I fall off the eagle? Will my friend Aryeh be able to come with me on my eagle?”
Our Sages explain that there are many levels of emunah – faith in G-d. But there is a level of faith that is often overlooked: emunah p’shutah – simple faith. It is unequivocal belief that there is an omnipotent and omnipresent Creator who runs the world according to a divine plan. That faith requires child-like belief, without sophistication, analysis, or discussion.
There is much our children need to learn from us about life and the complex world we live in. But in matters of faith in G-d, in the Torah, and in the veracity of our mission and destiny, we should learn from our children how to simply truly believe!