To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
In last week’s column, a parent named Sara asked how she should deal with a book she bought on the planets that contains text describing the world as being 15 billion years old. She questioned if she ought to read it to her children and discuss with them the fact that there are people who believe this – while sharing with them our belief that the Torah teaches us that the world is 5,766 years old. She wanted to convey to her children that the theory of evolution is not accepted in the Torah world, and noted that she would like her kids to hear that information from her – rather than possibly hearing it later in life from someone who does not have proper hashkafos.
In my response I separated our adult understanding of essential matters of our bedrock emunah from the challenge of discussing these matters with our children. I also noted that the fact that there are objects in our world that appear to be more than 5,766 years old is not, in and of itself, a contradiction to our emunah. This is because Hashem created a world that was mature and developed – with aged trees and stones.
In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, issues of emunah (unresolved questions pertaining to bedrock, fundamental components of our faith in Torah Mi’Sinai) seemed to have been a far greater challenge than they are today. Communist philosophy, the atheist mindset that went hand-in-hand with it, and the Haskalah raged through Europe like a forest fire and was a significant factor in many frum people abandoning Yiddishkeit.
Most of today’s children and adults, on the other hand, are not as preoccupied with philosophical matters as were their grandparents. I would guess that this change is due to today’s enhanced living conditions, and the distractions of technological and recreational opportunities. After all, the much slower pace of life in pre-war Europe allowed for more reflection and introspection – while today’s teens have far less discretionary time for matters of hashkafah.
With that in mind, your point about not raising these challenging concepts with your children may be valid. But I would suggest that all things considered, it would be far wiser to open a dialogue with your children about concepts of emunah and bitachon while they are still in your home, and are at an age when their set of nisyonos (temptations) are more manageable.
In Project YES’s 11 years, I have come across countless teens (and more than a few adults) whose commitment to Yiddishkeit was significantly weakened due to questions related to fundamental emunah concepts that were suppressed or left unanswered by their parents and/or educators. And while it is only a small minority of individuals who actually abandon Yiddishkeit due to these types of questions, having them “out there” unresolved during vulnerable phases in one’s life is not a recipe for maintaining his or her spiritual commitment to our mesorah during these trying periods.
I would most certainly encourage you to broach this delicate subject gently by mentioning that we firmly believe that the age of the world is 5,766 years, and that some objects in the world appear to be far older (as we discussed in the previous column).
What is most important in this discussion is that you leave the door wide open for your child to approach you with any questions – now or at any time in the future. Keep in mind that an unasked question is inevitably an unresolved one.
Often, parents (and educators) are intimidated to leave that door open for fear of being asked a question for which they may not be able to formulate an appropriate response. I suggest, however, that you need not be concerned about being in that predicament. Not knowing the answer to a question affords you the opportunity to guide your child as to what a Torah Jew ought to do in a situation where he or she has unanswered questions.
Suggest that he or she consult with a rav in the community, or a kiruv (outreach) professional who may be better equipped to answer these questions pertaining to our emunah. Or better yet, model the behavior by going with your child to the rav or kiruv professional.
You may actually enjoy the experience.
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and director of Project Y.E.S.To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s d’var Torahsefer, “Growing With the Parsha,” his popular parenting tapes and CDs – including his 4-CD set “What Matters Most” – and his recently released parenting book, “Living and Parenting” (ArtScroll), please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 845-426-2243, or visit your local Judaica store.
About the Author: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam and founder and director of Agudath Israel's Project Y.E.S.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.
Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”
Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.
There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.
As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”
Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]
The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.
Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.
Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.
The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.
It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…
Those of us familiar with the do’s and don’ts of accepted practice in the mental health profession saw similar blaring warning lights in our minds, as should have occurred when the facts were made public regarding the accusations against Nehemia Weberman. This case may very well be our community’s most important abuse trial during our lifetimes. It is imperative that we have a huge turnout in support of the victim, a courageous young lady who, may she be gezunt andge’bentched, is determined to see this through to the end so others won’t suffer like she did.
These lines are written in loving memory of our dear father, Reb Shlomo Zev ben Reb Baruch Yehudah Nutovic, a”h, whose first yahrzeit is 7 Menachem Av. May the positive lessons learned from this essay be a zechus for his neshamah.
All responsible leaders in our community have roundly condemned the recent violence in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim.
A surefire way to gauge the generation in which a person was raised is to have him or her fill in the following sentence: Where were you when ?”
Baby Boomers would ask, “When President Kennedy was shot?” Thirtysomethings would respond, “When the space shuttle exploded?” Today’s teenagers would reply, “On 9/11?”
One week ago on my website I announced my intention to attend the next court appearance of a man who was arrested last year and is now standing trial on 10 felony charges of child abuse.
Dear Rabbi Horowitz:
We were taken aback when our 18-year-old son just called us from Eretz Yisrael (we live in Europe) and told us that he was coming home and wants to immediately go to work. He said that he is wasting his time in yeshiva, and just can’t take it anymore. He said that he will “run away from home” if we don’t allow him to go to work.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/addressing-my-childs-questions-on-evolution-discuss-or-take-a-pass-part-ii/2008/08/06/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: