Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Toldos

Raising Children and Good Mazal

The rabbis of the Talmud declared that children – having them, raising them and how they turn out – are dependent on a degree of mazal, good fortune and luck. In this week’s parsha, where the twins Yaakov and Eisav are described and contrasted, this cryptic statement is apparently relevant and pertinent. Both are products of the same parents, raised in the same home and apparently given the same type of education yet they turn out to be opposite personalities.

In fact, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch sees in this the cause for Eisav’s evil behavior – Eisav who is a completely different personality than Yaakov should not have been given the same education as Yaakov. It was the inability to raise Eisav according to his own tendencies and needs that turned him into the alienated, rebellious and hateful person that he became.

The story of the twin sons of Yitzchak and Rivkah certainly illustrates the uncertainty associated in raising children no matter how pious the parents and how moral the home involved in raising them. It is this element of unplanned and unforeseen mazal that the rabbis of the Talmud are referring to.

This in no way absolves parents of their responsibilities and duties regarding the raising of their children. But, it does point out they have a will of their own and that there are no guarantees as to how they develop and what their beliefs and actions in later life will be.

In the nineteenth century entire generations and communities of Jewish children turned their backs to Torah life and traditional values. It was due, to a certain degree, to the obvious deficiencies present in Jewish life In Europe – poverty, governmental persecution, social discrimination and the apparent backwardness of the then Jewish society. But I feel that the major driving force of this secularization of Jewish society was the zeitgeist – the prevailing spirit of the times that then was dominant in European society and life.

Perhaps one can say that this zeitgeist is itself the mazal that the rabbis spoke of. We are all products of the ideas and times in which we live - we are influenced by everything. Some, like Yaakov, are able to shut out much of the outside world by sitting in the tents of Torah for decades on end. Eisav, who did not have that ability to sit for years in the tents of study, though he certainly had that opportunity, was swept away by the zeitgeist of the Canaanites, of Yishmael and the allure of power and wealth.

Following the zeitgeist never excuses bad and immoral behavior in the eyes of Torah. But it does explain how such alienation and rebellion, hatred and prejudice is instilled into children who were raised by great parents and in solid homes and families. Since zeitgeist can never be completely eliminated from our home environments it behooves us to be aware of its presence and attempt to deal with it wisely and realistically. And for that to happen, we will all require a large helping of undiluted good mazal.

Shabat shalom,

Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 

ARTICLES ON KI SAVO AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

A Rosh Hashana Message
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5769

A Message for the Generations
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

The Layers of Redemption
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Plotting Our Course for the Coming Year
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761

Rabbi Frand on Rosh HaShana
- 5769

Tatooed With Faith
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

ArtScroll

The Art of the Deal and It's Impact
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

The Passion of Today!
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Rosh Hashana and the Kiss of Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Needless Hate and Absence of Joy
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Get the Merchandise
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

The Connection Between Amalek and the First Fruits
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

> A Spiritual Time
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

The Secret To Spiritual Success
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

A Lesson in Restraint
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

What We Really Think
Rabbi Label Lam - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information