Commentary on Parashat Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1 - 4:20
Kids hate whatever they think is boring. However, as it turns out, much of what’s important in life is not fun-filled and exciting. While much of a child’s school day can be interesting (one hopes!), memorizing facts is simply rote. While family life can be fun, chores around the home are not. There are plenty of highs and lows in life, but most of life falls right in between.
The Torah portion this week, Bamidbar, begins the tale of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness. They have already been through the excitement of escaping from Egypt and receiving the Torah at Sinai. Now, they are simply traipsing through the desert, as they will be for the next forty years. But the Israelite journey through the desert is more than just wandering. It is a time for testing limits, for growth and renewal. It is a time for consolidating their identity as a nation and their relationship with God.
It’s important to teach kids to appreciate the “boring” moments of life. In working through the boredom there is much to learn: patience and fortitude, to name two important character traits. When they complain of being bored, we, as parents, should be wary of solving their “boredom” for them. Instead, let them work out for themselves the “problem” of boredom. In this way they can learn to tolerate boredom, or at least work through it by themselves and see their way to what’s valuable in the less exciting moments of life.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the wandering of the Israelites through the wilderness on their way to the promised land, and what this journey might signify for their lives today.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· What do you find boring?
· What do you do when you are bored? Does whining or complaining help?
· Why might it be important to be bored sometimes?
© 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.