What is the most impressive accomplishment in professional sports?
What is that question doing in this newspaper?
One of the lessons Ben Azzai teaches us in Pirkei Avos is al t’hi maflig l’chol davar, which means there is potential value in everything in Hashem’s world (Tiferes Yisrael on Avos 4:3). We might even be able to derive a musar haskal from professional sports.
In most sports, there is a champion. Every year, someone wins the Davis Cup, the Stanley Cup, the Superbowl, and the World Series. How would you determine which of those is the most impressive achievement?
Perhaps the most impressive achievement is none of those. Perhaps the most prestigious title is the one that no one wins, year after year. Perhaps the crowning achievement in professional sports is the Triple Crown of Racing, which no horse has won since Affirmed won it in 1978.
A victory so seldom achieved is an impressive achievement. And I think there’s a musar haskal for each of us, particularly as parents.
Rabi Shimon taught: There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of kehuna, and the crown of malchus. (Avos 4:13) That is our triple crown.
How can each of us aspire to all three crowns? How many of us are kohanim? How many of us are descendants of Dovid Hamelech? And if many of us can only aspire to the crown of Torah, what is the lesson for us in knowing that there are two other crowns?
According to Rabi Yitzchak Izaak Chaver, each of the three of the crowns bears significance for every one of us:
The crown of kahuna alludes to service, the positive mitzvos.
The crown of malchus alludes to self-restraint, the negative mitzvos.
The crown of Torah alludes to knowledge, to learn for the sake of Torah. (Ohr Torah, cited by Misivta Avos, kaftor v’ferach page 62)
How does this apply to you and your child?
There are three areas of achievement for a child: social, behavioral, and academic.
You want your school-age child to have friends, to cooperate with teachers, and to master the lessons that she is taught.
You want your pre-schooler to play nicely with other children, to sit in the circle when the morah says it is circle time, and to learn shapes, colors, numbers, and the aleph-bais.
Learning appropriate social skills incorporates positive mitzvos such as v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha and b’tzedek tishpote amisecha.
You want your child to achieve the crown of kahuna, to form friendships by expressing kindness, patience, and generosity.
Cooperation with teachers includes the negative mitzvah of al tasur.
You want your child to attain the crown of malchus, to learn self-restraint, to reign in impulsive behaviors and desires.
Torah encompasses all of the above as well as the study of Torah itself.
You hope your child will acquire the crown of Torah; that he will see the joy of Torah in others and strive to gain it for himself.
You want your child to win the Triple Crown. Sometimes, I hope, he will. When he falls short in one or two areas, don’t be discouraged; be concerned.
How do you express concern? How do you help your child when she is struggling in one of these areas?
Please join me for a Webinar on how to address these and other back to school issues, including How to Talk to Your Child’s Teacher, How to Get Homework Done Without Tears (yours or theirs!), and Effective Study Habits.
Log on at Frumtherapist.com on Thursday, September 6 at 11:30 AM for a LIVE, INTERACTIVE 45 minute presentation* about: Homework – Has it been a struggle to get started, get it completed, get it right? Or even to find out if any homework was assigned?
Test grades – how does your child study? Is memorization hard for him? Doe she have trouble with comprehension? Conversations with rebbeim and teachers – what to ask, how to initiate and how to respond.
Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with specialties in marriage, relationships, and parenting. He works with parents and educators, and conducts parenting seminars for shuls and organizations. He can be reached at 718-344-6575.
*The webinar is sponsored by The Jewish Press.