Friday, August 17, 2007

My Answer to One of the Comments Received on Parenting

Although I didn't intend parenting to be the main topic of this post, it has been discussed in the comment section of that post. I received an interesting question to that post which I will quote here:

Menatzpach said...
If you did not have the daily responsibilities to learn Torah and attend minyanim could you be a better father?

A Simple Jew suggested I post my answer in a post of its own so here it is:


Thanks for the thoughful question. I can definitely see how it might seem outwardly like that might be the case... more time out of the house = less time with the children = not as good of a father.

However, I would actually be a worse father if I didn't go to daily minyanim and sedorim. My kids know that I get up very early in the morning (hours before they get up) to learn before davening. They also know that I (almost) always daven with a minyan. That teaches them a couple of things that they wouldn't get without those commitments. They see that commitment to Yiddishkeit and mitzvos is not only an obligation (which they are taught to keep as well by observing my commitment to it) but also that it is the most important and enjoyable part of my life. That teaches them that Yiddishkeit is not a burden but a privilge and a pleasure to their parents, and hopefully by example, to them as well.

Are they sometimes sad to see me go to minyan or that I am not there when they wake up? Sure. But that temporary discomfort is small in comparison to the lessons it teaches them, which help inform who they are as human beings and as Jews. And educating my children by influencing attitudes about commitment to the obligations and pleasures of Judaism is my first obligation as a parent. Besides, since I'm around less, they're even happier during the times I am around. If I was always present with them so many hours a day, then almost none of the time would be special and they wouldn't see me being commited to anything greater than myself and my family, which would be a bad lesson.

Hope that helps!

-Dixie Yid

(The Picture is "Waiting for Dad" from


A Simple Jew said...

Dixie Yid: While somewhat related, I recently saw that the word קבא also has a connotation of stealing (see Mishlei 22:23). Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum commented on this that, "One has to steal time from one's other activities in order to make time for Torah study!"

Anonymous said...

I once saw the shailah in Tefillah Kchichoso - Does the mitsvah of kabbolas orchim have precedence over atttending a minyan. I don't remember the name of the posek but he said that gevurah tramps chessed. This is a good way to understand all such conflicts. Gevurah, structure responsibilites, obligations must be honored as well as chessed. However, gevurah is definable in that it has limits while chessed has no borders. In practical terms, gevurah always tramps chessed because it is something that is more applicable within the physical world with its limitations. I think taht thsi relates to all domestic obligations vis-a-vis religious obligations. Easier said, though, than done, for a Jewish neshama that tends to chesed.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

So in other words: Since Chesed obligations are theoretically unlimited, they could run roughshod over the gevura type obligations, which are more modest and limited in scope by nature. I hear that. But when it comes to this situation, when the question was about learning torah. "Elu dvarim sh'ein l'hem shiur..." Learning Torah is unlimited as well, except when it comes to mitzvos she'i efshar l'heiasos al yedei acheirim. Certainly being my children's father is something that no one else can do. So how do you feel that you should draw the line? When does being an Abbah cross the line to something no one else can do, exempting you from Torah?

-Dixie Yid

A Simple Jew said...

Interesting question! (your last sentence)

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

I liked your answer. The proof of the pudding is in the eating-- children of men who go to shul every day, and who eventually take them to along to shul-- seem at least as happy, proud, and respectful as children whose fathers don't go to shul. Of course this is anecdotal. Maybe it's prejudiced. But all the theories in the world aren't a substitute for careful observation of reality. Check for yourself, and see whose families are more cohesive and happy, the minyan goers or the others.