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Oy what a Joy!

Wednesday, 22 March, 2017 - 7:50 pm

As many of you know, Fraida and I are now blessed with a handful of kids and our kids, let's just say, they are a handful. I am not going to write some long parenting advice email, something like how to stay sane with 5 kids or any other lengthy dissertation of what worked for me and how it can work for you. What I will share is a quote I heard from my Uncle Schwartzie, "Don't observe Judaism, celebrate it!"

One can look at the tasks required to raise healthy, independent children (cleaning, cooking, diaper changing and bed making etc.) as chores, as things I have to do. Alternatively, one can look at them as something to celebrate! If I choose to celebrate raising children than I am not cleaning, I am raising children who are responsible, I am not making beds, I am creating a generation that values being neat.

When we treat the tasks we need to do with an excitement and happiness, our children want to follow in this path. When we view it as a chore, we risk imparting to our children the feeling of "do as much of it as we absolutely have to to survive" and "get away with as little as you can".

The same thing is with Judaism. When we just observe Judaism, without celebrating it, we sometimes do as little as we can get away with. Think about the message our children are hearing?  In the modern world,  what do our children need to do to "observe Judaism", can they get away with less?

However, when we celebrate Judaism, while we may be doing the same mitzvah, it's a whole different experience. The celebrating of the mitzvah shows that Judaism isn't something imposed upon us, but an expression of ourselves, our inner core. We are teaching our children to celebrate Judaism as much as we  can, after all it's who you are and who doesn't want to celebrate themselves.

So when raising our handful of children, I will remind myself to focus on the JOY instead of the OY!

Have a great Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

 

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