A False Choice

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14 Responses

  1. ben dov says:

    My understanding of the 4 Sons in the Hagada is that all of them are welcome at the Seder. How did the rasha get to the Seder in the first place? Give the rasha credit for at least showing up.

    -ben dov

  2. mb says:

    ” “I love all of my children very much. You must all know, however, that I love Hashem much more.” He made clear that any son who became a rasha would be no longer be welcome in the family home.”

    I find this most peculiar.
    The God of love, who loves His children, and taught us how to love our children, and despite the rebellious of His children, he never rejected them. Quite the opposite in fact.

  3. Yair Daar says:

    “Both Hashem and the parent share the same goal – i.e., that the child return to a vibrant, close relationship with Hashem.”

    Is this really the only reason that a parent should exhibit understanding towards their children’s non-observant behavior? What about the natural compassion that a parent should have for their child? What about a child needing their parents’ unconditional support? Our children are not kiruv cases, and making them more religious should not be our main agenda.

    Granted, in the situations you set up, it makes no difference. By being patient with our children, we can both give them the compassion and support they deserve from us and keep them within the fold. But what is our mindset? Are we looking out for G-d first or our children first? The practical outcome might be the same, but in our minds, there is in fact a real choice. And if we choose to focus on the sinning and not on our children’s emotional well-being, we will be acting as sub-par parents.

    Additionally, there are plenty of instances where a parent may have to choose between a child and religion. What happens if a someone’s child chooses to intermarry or reveals him or herself to be homosexual? And I think the important thing to realize is that it isn’t so clear cut what G-d wants in such a situation. Does He want us to stand up for our religious principles or to support our children? These are important questions to answer, and say so much more about the place of compassion in Judaism.

  4. David says:

    Nice piece that gives the chizuk that many of us parents need, thank you.

    A few months back I attended a lecture on parenting by a certain Rosh Yeshiva who pointed out that when you open the Tanach, it is hard to find a ‘normal’ family without major problems. Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Shemuel, Dovid, etc. – they all had issues of one sort or another with their kids. It’s kedai to remind ourselves that as in all areas of life, we’ve got to do our best with the understanding that the results are not necessarily up to us.

  5. Allan Katz says:

    This article has been discussed here before. I recommend to all parents and teachers to read the beginning of the Tomer Devorah to get an understanding of ‘unconditional love’ – ‘ Thus, this attribute of being tolerant, is one that man should emulate. Even when he is insulted to such a degree , he should still not withdraw his benevolence from the recipient.’

    Unconditional parenting is a book by Alfie Kohn where he explains that unconditional love is not ‘ permissive parenting ‘ – it is loving kids for who they are and not what they do. You don’t use love to leverage behavior ,or show more love when kids do well etc. It is a way that you set limits and solve problems – doing it in a collaborative way , working with kids rather than ‘ doing to ‘ them with rewards and punishments ‘ , it is helping them to do Teshuvah in an autonomous way.It is relating to the ‘ whole child’ , not just behavior. The thoughts, feelings, and motivation behind behavior – the p’nimiyus is very important. The Chazon ish is quoted as saying ‘ what kids need more than love is respect.Alfie Kohn reminds us that it matters more what kids actually learn than what we teach- we think we are teaching them a lesson , but they learn something different – that we are unfair and don’t care or understand them.The more kids trust their caregivers and feel that their needs and concerns are understood and addressed, decisions are made together with them they are more likely to listen to us when we feel it is a situation where ‘ they have to ‘ follow our unilateral decision.

    A parent who has legitimate concerns about for eg a teenager living in the home can with the help of an outsider if needed meet with the kid and try to find a mutually satisfying solution that addresses both the concerns of the parent and the kid- the process of cps – collaborative problem solving also involves the setting of limits because your concern is also being addressed

  6. lawrence kaplan says:

    A very thoughtful and nuanced article.

  7. SA says:

    This doesn’t answer a major question that I have had as a parent: How does one remain patient with one child’s deviations from the family norm and still successfully parent the other children?

    After all, most parents still believe in a certain set of standards, and are now being forced to accept one set of (child-dictated!!!) standards for one child, while still trying to maintain their standards (which sometimes include demands) for the other children. How does one prevent the problematic child from “infecting” the other children? How can parents run a household with two different sets of rules?

    I once sent this question to a chinuch columnist. He couldn’t (or didn’t) answer the question.

  8. rachel w. says:

    Did He not exile (throw us out of) His home? That, seemingly, does not equal total rejection.

  9. Mr. Cohen says:

    Around ten years ago, I explained that the underlying reason that
    children-in-shul vs. synagogue-decorum is an unsolvable problem,
    is because we love our children more than we love HaShem,
    and our loyalty to our children is greater than our loyalty to the Torah.

  10. L. Oberstein says:

    Rashi on this week’s parsha comments that the parents of the engaged girl who is beng stoned have to be there when the sentence is carried out. “See the one you raised” seems to me to be public shaming of the mother and father for having a child go far off the derech. Does the Torah really mean that if a frum family has a child who leaves Yiddishkeit, becomes an addict, gets into big legal trouble, that his father and mother should be publicly held accountable? Isn’t that what Rashi is saying and does it not negate much of what we have learned subsequently . Can you imagine how hurtful this is for anyone who isn’t fortunate enough to have 100% sucess with all of their children. This affects people from the very best families.

  11. CJ Srullowitz says:

    I heard this story from Rav Shimon Schwab, zt”l, himself – more than once. But in the telling I heard, his father simply said, “I love you all very much, but I love Hashem more.” He never said anything about rejecting his children. It was never my understanding that this was about the children’s behavior; it was a declaration of the paramount importance of Ahavas Hashem.

  12. DF says:

    A child of non-religious parents becoming frum (baal teshuvah) is 100% the same as the child of religious parents becoming non-religious. These are mirror-image opposites, ie, the same. From the persepctive of the parents, in both cases they and that child are a failure. Yet we in the frum community still practice kiruv, and still expect and hope the parents will resepct their children’s wishes and remain part of their lives. Should we not be doing the same when the shoe is on the other foot?

  13. Ben Waxman says:

    I wonder what advice Rav Zohar would give to a) a resident of Maatersdorf, a rav in chareidi kollel, whose son announces that he wants to learn at Har Etzion and serve in the army. b) a resident of Alon Shvut, a rav in Har Etzion, whose son announces that he simply wants to learn and doesn’t want to serve in the IDF.

  14. Gershon Seif says:

    Is that pamphlet from Rabbi Zohar available for the public in chutz la’aretz?

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