And HASHEM said to Moshe: ‘Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and you shall say to them: “To a (dead) person he shall not become impure among his people…”‘ (Vayikra 21:1
Say to the Kohanim…and you shall say to them: The Torah uses the double expression of “say” followed by “and you shall say” to caution the adults with regard to the minors. (Rashi)
The Kohanim-The Priestly cast are to play an important role as living examples of holiness and purity for the entire nations. Where is the manual for success in relating this sublime message from one generation to the next?
Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky ztl. Had made an important distinction between two important words in the realm of raising children; Chinuch – Education and Hashpah – Influence. Education is a form of direct teaching. The teacher fills up the cup of the child with valuable information and important knowledge. Hashpah comes from a root word Shefa which means abundance. Hashpah is when fills his cup and what overflows washes over and influences those in one’s immediate surroundings. Which is most effective?
I have had many parents brag to me over the years, “Rabbi, I push my children!” They think I will be impressed. While I am sure they mean well, my response is, “Don’t push! Pull!” I explain, “When someone honks their horn behind you, do you feel like going faster or slower? However, when a car goes racing by, we all have an urge to speed up. Teach you child primarily by example!
Children are studying their parents in ways the parents may never imagine and they will naturally imitate their behavior. One day I opened the food cabinet at home and an avalanche of 2ounce applesauce snack containers came crashing down. As I gazed at the pileup on the floor below a great truth dawned upon me, “The applesauce doesn’t fall far from the pantry!” The parents who unfortunately talk in Shul are raising the next generation of Shul talkers. Those who remain focused on the business of Davening invariably raise children who Daven.
One clever child told his parents, “Your actions are so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying!” The story is told about a principal who called a father at his work to discuss his child’s behavior. While the principal was demanding a face to face meeting the father insisted to be told the reason for the call.
So, the principal told him straight, “It seems your child has been stealing pencils from the other children in school.” The father was righteously indignant and replied to the principal, “Why in the world would my child steal pencils from the other children? I bring home all the pencils he needs from the office!”
One of my teachers was happily skipping home on Simchas Torah with his then young family. They were singing a lively tune to the words, “Olam Haba is a guta zach…Learning Torah is a besser zach…” (The next world is a good thing…Learning Torah is a better thing…” His four-year old daughter interrupted the parade and asked her father in all earnest, “Abba, what’s Olam Haba?”
He knew he had to address her question on a level she could comprehend. He asked her what the most delicious thing in the world was, thinking that if she said chocolate, then he would tell her it’s tons of chocolate and if she said marshmallows then he’d tell her how many marshmallows. She gave a most surprising answer, though. “Davening!” He asked her where she had learned that. She was not yet in school and all she said was, “Mommy!”
How had she learned this? He realized that after the morning rush, when all the older brothers and sisters are sent off to school the mother and daughter sit down to eat some breakfast. The mother has her coffee and a muffin and the daughter has her sweet raisin bran. Afterwards, the mother approaches a blank wall, siddur in hand and prays. The child notices the look of sublime joy on her mother’s face. Intuitively she compares it to the sweetness of the breakfast goodies and naturally concludes one experience must be far sweeter than the other. Davening must be that delicious.
That’s the power of Hashpa, the highest form of leadership – by example.