ECLIPSING THE ECLIPSE BY RABBI CHAIM
Sitting on the lawn of Ashton Elementary School in northeast Idaho, I watched the total eclipse in absolute amazement. Yet, I’ll admit publicly, that for me, the eclipse was eclipsed by a far greater wonder, the birth and adoption of our newborn. It’s been six-plus years since my mom’s passing and, ever since, I’ve been hoping for a baby to carry her name. At the Shabbos Torah reading, after reading the words “in accordance with the blessing of the Eternal, your God, that He has given to you” I had the honor of naming our daughter Chana Laya (She has a registry here.) She is delicious, cute and so lovable. During these “seven weeks of consolation”, I received mine.
Raising a hand-full (literally) of children, is no simple task. Our world is chaotic, winds of secularism and unchecked insanity are blowing strongly, and divisiveness has overtaken our once United States. Nevertheless, we are still capable of raising holy children in the 21st century.
In this week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, we discuss war. The Jewish soldiers are commanded not to fear their enemy, even if seemingly mighty. Soldiers that are unfocused, whether newlyweds, new homeowners, new vignerons and those that are “chicken”, should go home. You don’t want a few distracted soldiers, weakening the entire army. In the pre-war words of the priest “Hear, O Israel, today you are approaching the battle against your enemies. Let your hearts not be faint; you shall not be afraid, and you shall not be alarmed, and you shall not be terrified because of them”.
Sun Tzu writes “Thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him”. The world is a war zone, and our children must not fear it, must not find excuses to dodge the skirmish, but rather we must inspire, encourage and educate them to know the Art of War. Let’s put secularism on the defense, let’s arm our children with so much Yiddishkait, so much Torah, so much authenticity, giving the enemies of tradition a run for their money. Learn Kuzari, Chovas HaLevavos and Kuntres Umaayon with them, talk to them about what G-d means to you, infuse them with logic and faith, giving them the necessary ammo to decimate the darkness, or at least dismiss the temptation for instant gratification. I pray to merit raising my beloved Chana Laya, with her four amazing siblings, in the ways of their Bubby, my mother of blessed memory, who stared at the world and said, “bring it on”.
Our children need not to fear the world; the world needs to fear them!