Commentary on Parashat Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29:9 - 30:20
It’s not too hard, we tell our children, when they want to do something new. It just takes some effort and practice and sometimes courage to do it. It can be difficult, though, to tolerate seeing our children struggle. If we protect our children from struggle and from learning new skills that they are not immediately good at, they won’t understand that taking on new projects requires patience, effort and perseverance.
In our Torah portion this week it says, “It is not in the heavens”; in other words, what the Torah instructs is not beyond us to accomplish. Although much effort is required, the ethical and spiritual precepts of the Torah are eminently attainable as well as rewarding.
It is important that our children see us taking on new and difficult projects. The new project can be as specific as learning a new instrument, or as amorphous as committing oneself to an ethical precept, such as honesty. They will learn from our modeling that some struggle is inherent in accomplishment, even in adulthood. When appropriate, share with your children your struggles so they know what it’s like to strive for something important.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about some of their dreams for what they would like to accomplish.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· What new thing would you like to try?
· What things, if any, are you afraid to try?
· What makes it difficult to try?
· Have you ever found something to be worth the effort even though you could not fully accomplish what you wanted?
© Copyright 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.