Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Eikev contains several of our most cherished mitzvot, commandments that will sound familiar to all who know the shema v'ahavta::
Therefore impress these words upon your very heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children -- speak of them when you are sitting at home and when you are walking on your way, when you lie down and when you rise up; (Deut. 11:18-19)
With two teenagers of my own, I have been wondering what it means to teach our children words of Torah when we are at home and when we are away, when we lie down and when we rise up. Can we really talk about Torah every moment of every day? Should we?
If you have kids, and if they are anything like my kids, then you know that after a certain (and probably short) period of time that they would tune out our words of Torah. Even worse, they might start to resent these teachings, and choose to distance themselves from our tradition. Can it be that following the commandment to teach our children Torah at all times and in all places actually undermines their connection to Torah and God?
Thankfully, the answer is no. Not only is it possible to successfully follow the commandment, but when we do it well, I think our children will thank us for it.
Our kids learn far more from what we do than from what we say. If we say one thing and then do the opposite, we have taught our children to do the same. These verses carefully cover every conceivable time and place for the transmission of Torah, because we are supposed to teach not only with our words, but with our deeds. Judaism is a tradition of doing, and only when our feet consistently follow our words, will our children be inspired and truly learn Torah, For me, modeling our values and practices is one of the most beautiful and greatest challenges of parenthood, and therefore, is well worth the effort.
Hi there! I am the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland, where I have served since 2016.
(c) copyright 2015 Rabbi Gary Pokras