Friday, July 01, 2011

Being Childish

This week's post is dedicated to my wonderful wife, a true woman of valor, who has stuck with me for 15 years (this week).

As always, the goal of this blog is to give you something interesting and meaningful to discuss at your Friday night dinner table. Please print and share.

Shalom from Jerusalem.

Here visiting my sister and family.

One of my favorite things about visiting Israel is getting to spend time with them all.

Her six-year-old, Yehoshua, looks like one of those religious kids in the movies. Extremely short hair, long side curls, fringes dangling from his waist.

And like kids anywhere, he can say the darndest things.

To understand the first vignette, you have to know that that in the Torah there is a concept called "tuma" which is a ritual impurity. One can contract it and become tamay, among other ways, from contact with someone or something that has died. Sort of like the cooties.

We're exploring an ancient site called Maresha, which was a cave-town carved out of limestone. It's just a stone's throw away from where David fought Goliath. Today you can easily explore these labyrinthine caves, a child's dreamscape.

The last cave we visit had been used for burials. Yehoshua starts to climb into one of the crypts.

His eight-year-old sister stops him. "You can't do that! You'll become tamay!"

But Yehoshua is no dummy. "We're all tamay anyway!"

"Yeah, but then you'll get more tamay!"

First question for your table — Is there any benefit to giving people a rule to follow that defies reason?

So then later when I'm walking them home Yehoshua suddenly says to me (or to himself?):

Kol ha-goyim magiah may-ha-kotel ad kahn
Hashem ohev lishmoah otam.

That translates roughly as:

The voice of the Gentiles reaches from the Western Wall until here
Them God loves to hear.

Which Gentiles? What voice? Why does God love to hear them?

As we walk, he explains: the Moslems in the mosques, you hear their prayers (on loudspeakers). God loves to hear them because they are monotheists and not worshipping idols.

It took some prying, but I finally get it out of him that he got this idea from the rabbi who is his primary school teacher.

"And their voice reaches all the way to here?" I ask.

"No, back there!" he corrects me.

Question #2 for your table: We adults spend a lot of time talking about what and how to teach children, but what should we be learning from children?

(Rav Nachman, the famous Chasid, used to say: We should learn three things from children: They're always busy, they're always happy, and when they want something, they say "please, please, please Daddy" until they get it.)

Shabbat Shalom

(Did I mention printing out this message and reading at your dinner table? Try it, they'll love it.)

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