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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How to pass the baton of Judaism on to your kids

Daf Yomi Yevamos 66

Dan wanted a TV in the bedroom.  Erin was accusing him of being a hypocrite. 
“You don’t want the kids to watch TV, but it’s okay for us?” she chided.
“We’re adults, we can filter,” he responded.  “Their minds are fresh and young and could be corrupted by all the junk on the screen nowadays.”

The Mishnah states: If a widow was married to the High Priest or a divorcee or chalutzah (one who had been annulled from the levirate marriage) was married to a regular cohen, and she brought servants into the marriage but maintained personal ownership, they may not partake of the priestly tithed food.

The Gemara explains: Anyone who eats may feed.  Anyone who may not eat may not feed.  In other words, since she herself is unfit for the priestly relationship and may not partake of the tithes, she likewise is unable to feed the tithes to her servants, even though they are presently members of the priestly household.

Kids today are smarter than ever.  If you aren’t prepared to put your money where your mouth is, they will see right through you.  If you don’t want them watching TV, you shouldn’t be watching TV yourself. If you don’t want them smoking, you’d better not be smoking.

If you can’t eat the tithes, you can’t feed the tithes.  If you want your kids to be spiritually devoted, you’d better be prepared to be spiritually devoted.   Many parents think that if they drop off their kids at Jewish day-school or Sunday school or Shabbat services, they’re doing their part to imbue their kids with our heritage.   But if you are not willing to show your kids that you too are constantly learning and growing in your Judaism, why should they take it seriously? 

If you want to feed Judaism to your kids, you’d better be eating it yourself.  What use is a ‘get-by Judaism’ that just aims to do the bare minimum to pass on the baton to the next generation?  You need to believe and demonstrate that this baton is meaningful to you for your life and not just something you want to inflict on your kids because your parents inflicted it on you!

Relish your Judaism!  Live your Judaism!  And may you have the merit to feed it to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!