Rebbetzin Heller just gave a really interesting class at Naaleh on the relationship between Torah philosphy and modern science. I highly recommend this class to anyone studying or working in science. Not only does Rebbetzin Heller touch upon this very timely issue, her message is something many of us mothers can learn from.
Rebbetzin Heller discusses the idea of how we are all born in a state of tahara, spiritual purity, into this world. This is what separates us from animals. When we sin a mechitza, barrier is created and blocks us from spirituality. Rebbetzin Heller points out how many of us try to prevent our children from being exposed to an environment which lacks tahara.
Whether at home, at the playground, or in school, we are all striving to protect our children from physical or emotional harm. As a spiritually and religiously aware mother, I try to protect my child from also spiritual harm. Yes, there will be bumps and bruises, but a major concern is my child’s spiritual well being. Many parents put a lot of emphasis on which schools they send their children to. Yes, the school environment is crucial, but it is what occurs in the home that I believe most effects our children spiritually and either enhances or diminishes their attitude toward Jewish observance. And we are the facilitators of the home front.
At times it can be overwhelming for me to be in charge of this tiny person’s spiritual existence. Its enough for me to have to work on my own spirituality and now there is someone looking to me for constant guidance and encouragement. A real life example of this is something we experience every single week- Shabbat. Shabbat means pausing from the everyday to time spend time together as a family; praying, eating, singing, learning Torah, playing, resting, socializing with friends and basking in this very special gift we have every week from Hashem. It is truly a gift, but for children it can also mean a day full of the word ‘no’. No television (although we luckily avoid that issue but not having a television in our home), no listening to music, no playing with certain electronic toys, no coloring or cutting, and a whole bunch of other things kids love to do. In general I have always tried to exercise positive parenting. ‘Instead of what you can’t do, let’s focus on what you can do’. This means keeping a Shabbat toy stash with special toys taken out just for Shabbat (and updating these toys every month or so), having special Shabbat only treats (every Friday we go to the bakery and my son picks out a special sprinkle cookie just for shabbat),inviting friends over that we do not see during the week, and any other ways to make this day a special ‘yes’ day. This allows us to move away from ‘no, no, no’. Above all else since cooking, laundry, bills, and other household duties are on hold for 25 hours, mommy is able to get down on the floor and play shoots and ladders for hours!
Our children are pure neshamas, souls given to us on loan from Hashem. We must look around our homes and see what we can do to ensure that it is an environment of tahara. We can also go a step beyond and try to make our homes a place of spiritual growth and Jewish warmth. May our children in turn give us much nachas and help bring this world into a state of everlasting peace.