Monday, September 22, 2008
Raising Children the Bilvavi Way- Ideas From the Author
I was zocheh to drive Rav Itamar Shwartz, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, to his speaking engagements in Baltimore, Carteret and Ohr Someach Monsey during his recent trip to the U.S. At one point in the car, I asked him how he teaches his children how to get closer to Hashem and incorporate tefillah into every aspect of life, as he teaches us to do in his seforim.
He gave me a couple of examples of things that he does in order to slowly demonstrate to his children how Hashem should be made a part of everything one does. One example that he told me is that he is home in the afternoons several days per week when his children are still up. One thing he does with his children during that time is to sit with just one child at a time on the Mirpeset, porch, spending some quiet time together. As things naturally come up in the conversation between them, he slips in observations or questions that unobtrusively teach that one turns to Hashem for any given aspects of life.
At one point, he was talking with one of his daughters and he asked her if she remembers to say "Thank You" to Hashem for making her Jewish and giving her the mitzvos. She said that she doesn't. So he asked her if she wanted him to remind her about this from time to time. If she said yes, then he would. If she said no, then he wouldn't. She responded that she did.
As another example, he was recently talking to his son after Maariv on the first day of school for the year. He asked his son whether he davened to Hashem that he be matzliach (successful) in school this year. He answered that he had not. So Rav Shwartz told him that during his Maariv, he did shed a tear in davening that he would be successful in school. This way, even though other Rebbeim may not be teaching this way of life in school, his son is learning by example that this is the normal way of being.
The common denominator in his approach is that one should not force these ideas on his children heavy-handedly. He didn't go ahead and remind his daughter to say "Thank You" to Hashem without being asked to do so. The main thing is to work thoughts about the purpose of life and about incorporating davening into every part of life naturally and easy-goingly with one's children, so they will learn that these things are not even things that need to be "taught" per se, but that they will see that they are a natural and organic part of living as a Jew.
(Picture courtesy of denisemarcotte.com)
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