Baruch Hashem, R' Boruch Leff, a mechanech in Baltimore and writer for Yated, Aish.com, and other publications has given me permission to post a series of pieces which quote my rebbe, Rav Moshe Weinberger, from his book Are You Growing?, which is available on Aish's website at a 40% discount here. He asked me to point out that these pieces were not written by Rav Weinberger himself, but represent R' Leff's understanding of things Rav Weinberger said in various shiurim. Enjoy!
Not everyone appreciates the value and importance of having children.
One of my daughters needed stitches but, thank G-d, it was nothing serious. Still, we needed to rush to the emergency room. In answering a few basic family history questions, thedoctor heard me say that at the time, my wife and I had five children between the ages of 1 and 11 years.
"You must feel likeyou have a full house?" she asked.
"No. With G-d's help,we would like to have more children," I responded.
"Why? Isn't five enough? More than enough?" she persisted with a smile.
It wasn't the time or place to engage in philosophical debate, especially since I did not wish to get the doctor perturbed. After all, I needed her to do a good job on the stitches!
But since that day, I have been doing a lot of thinking.
What exactly did Hashem have in mind when He invented the institution of parenting? Why do I, a full-grown adult, have to deal with messy spills, dirty diapers, muddy shoes, kvetching, whining, yells, screams, sibling rivalry, cuts, splinters, tantrums—the list goes on and on. Why not create people already as adults? How does parenting help me grow?
There is a basic reason for why Hashem created parenting.
G-d createdman in His image - b’tzelem Elokim, as Bereishis (1:27) states. What does it mean to be an image of G-d? How can mere mortal sever become like Hashem?
One facet tothis very complex question is the act of giving. HaKadosh Baruch Hu, through His act of creation, granted us life and existence, and He continually maintains our life and existence through His actsof kindness. His very essence is a one of generosity and kindness.
Since we were created in Hashem’s image, this means that we too have the ability to emulate His giving nature by giving of ourselves to our fellow man. In doing so, we bring more godliness into the world. And bringing more godliness and kindness into the world is the very purpose of creation. As the pasuk in Tehillim (89:3) states, “The world is built on kindness - olam chesed yibaneh.”
Hence, an act of charity, caring for the elderly, loving one’s fellow man, respecting one’s parents, all bring G-d’s essence into the world.
Of course, bringing godliness into the world includes tefila,Torah study, observances of Yomim Tovim, as well as all of the other mitzvos of the Torah. But a central key to godliness is treating one’s fellow man in kind, generous, and respectful ways. Thereby, we emulate Hashem’s trait of giving.
Jews have aneven greater responsibility to bring godliness to earth. We are the ‘priests of humanity - mamleches kohanim’ (Shemos19:6) and must set an example for the rest of the world in living with G-d consciousness. We must take the lead in making the world a more godly place.
What better way is there to make the world godlier than by bringing into the world, raisingand educating more people who will join us in this mission! Having children should not be viewed as a method to ‘carry on my legacy.’ That is a selfish motive.
Rav MosheWeinberger explains that the sincere rationale to raising a family is this. Raising and educating good Jewish kids is the greatest act we can do in maintaining the world’s godliness. The more children we have, the more acts ofgodliness will be accomplished.
I know someone who, whenever he sees a fellow Jew, says, “A shtick Yid! Another Jew! Another piece of godliness in the world!”
This contrasts greatly with the American ideal of ‘having two kids.’ ‘Having two kids’ accomplishes the selfish motiveof establishing a legacy. But legacies are highly personal, removed from godliness or giving of oneself. Rather, our intent in having children should be in order that we live and give, spreading godliness in the world through our children.
Having and raising kids is tough. There is no question that it is an all-consuming, lifelong challenge. Of course, the rewards are as great as the challenges. There is nothing quite like the ‘yiddishe nachas,’joys of parenting. But when we do face the inevitable frustrations and aggravations of parenting, it is worthwhile to keep the following idea in the back of our minds.Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to subscribe in Google Reader.
When we parent, we are doing the greatest task possible of mankind. When we raise our kids with godliness, we increase the level of godliness in the world.