Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
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 email@example.com, 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.
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Everyone is always looking for cute yet simple and inexpensive ideas to enhance their table at special occasions. Here are some attractive ways to create that festive look. Whether you use china or plastic, your guests will surely be delighted with your charming setup.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chavrusa working with you, guiding and helping you in your work environment?
What made an M.I.T. scholarship student, taking time off from his doctorate in medicine, to backpack, and then decide to backtrack, chuck it all… and get a haircut? Perhaps it is easier to understand a Harvard law student becoming enamored with the logic of Gemara and settling down to struggle with the intellectual challenges of Aramaic acrobatics.
JetBlue flew an empty aircraft from Boston to JFK to assist us. The care and concern of the flight attendants was amazing. They were astounded by our group, so much so that at the end of the flight, the captain related for all to hear that he was truly impressed by the care that the HASC counselors provided for the special-needs campers – all of whom have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. We did our best to demonstrate a true kiddush Hashem.
Q: What does twice exceptional or 2e mean?
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Having everyone home on a snow day can be a lot of fun – the first few times it happens. Once snow day number six hits, perhaps not so much and the real creativity has to come out.
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Never sacrifice the people who matter for anything of lesser importance…
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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 ?”
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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/
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