While I may not have children of my own flesh and blood, I have many children of my soul. They are all a blessing to me as if they were my own. And it is as much for their sake as my own that I hold my Judaism so dearly.
Parashat Bo teaches us much about our obligation to our children. First we learn from Moses' insistence that "Young and old alike will go." (Ex. 10:9) Pharaoh is willing to make a deal, but Moses will have none of it. All or none. The children must be part of the people that will go forth to serve their G"d. From this I learn that we must include our children in all that we do.
I learn that we are asked to treat our children as adults, and to share our pride with them - "You will then be able to confide to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians.." (Ex. 10:2) We're not told to wait until they ask a question, but to volunteer information. Later on we read "On that day, you must tell your child, 'It is because of this that God acted for me when I left Egypt.'" Again, without waiting to be asked. (Ex.13:8) We need not boast to our children, but surely we must share our pride in our people and our way of life. And here, clearly, I learn that I must also tell them of the wondrous things that G"d has done for us. There is no escaping that instruction. To leave G"d out of the story is unacceptable - yet how much is G"d still a part of what we teach our children (especially in our religious schools) ? Even if the concept doesn't fit our modern understanding, does that excuse us from relating the story as our ancestors saw it? I think not.
I also learn that children will be inquisitive, and learn that I must answer their questions - and know what I need to know to answer them.
Your children may [then] ask you, 'What is this service to you?' (Ex.
12:26) Your child may later ask you, "What is this?" (Ex. 13:14)
Both times were are told what we must answer.
How can I answer them if I myself do not know? Do I send them off to their computer to look it up on some CD-Rom encyclopedia? Or do I look it up myself and them answer them? Do I wait for them to learn it themselves or do I teach them?
It is not enough to just give our Jewish children the tools and skills to learn things for themselves. As valuable as that might be, there are some things we adults need to teach them ourselves. We must find out what needs to be taught and seek to know these things in our own hearts so we can teach them to our children.
So I study and learn not only for myself, but for my children. And my children are your children - our children. They are our future. Let us heed the messages of Bo.
©1998, 2002 and 2007 by Adrian A. Durlester
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