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Is it proper to brag about your children’s/grandchildren’s
accomplishments to friends or is it better to keep it within the family?
What about sharing on social media?

 

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We are all proud of our children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren). Just by their very sweetness we do earn some bragging rights. However to excessively and thoughtlessly do so is not a good trait. In fact, there just might be a certain callousness in doing so.

“Now let me tell you what my little one did, and by the way his big sister was accepted into an exclusive seminary in Israel.”

Even if all you are relating is the first steps taken by your little one, an innocent enough boast. Stop, think, is the person you are speaking to married, but has no children as of yet?

Your daughter graduated college magna cum laude but does his/her child have such achievements? How this must hurt.

Scripture relates two very significant incidents that relate to such bragging. The first is in sefer I Shmuel where the verse (1:6) states: “And her rival provoked her again and again in order to irritate her, for Hashem closed her womb.” The storyline was that Elkanah had two wives Chana and Penina, Penina had many children and Chana was childless. Penina taunted her over this fact at every opportunity.

Rashi (ad loc) citing the Talmud (Bava Basra 16a) states that although Penina taunted Chana, her intentions were pure and l’shem shamayim, as she was actually prodding to pray to Hashem. Nevertheless, she is looked upon critically for using her children to taunt this downtrodden, childless woman.

The upshot according to the Midrash is that indeed Chana did pray to Hashem, her prayers were answered and she gave birth to Shmuel, and not only that, she had an additional five children. One by one, the children of Penina died and realizing her sin she begged Chana to pray for her last two children lest they die as well. Therefore those last two who survived were considered as if Chana gave birth to them.

The other reference is to Haman who upon returning to his vice-regal household boasts to the gathered (Esther 5:11), as it states, “Haman recounted the glory of his wealth and of his many sons, and all that the king had promoted him and elevated him above all the other officials.” Haman, unlike Penina, faces a much harsher judgment and both he and those sons are put to death by hanging.

Before you boast, think it over. It may be wiser to say nothing.

– Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.

***

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The simple answer is no, and even from Israel I can hear the incredulous wailing of parents and grandparents who view their offspring as “nachat machines” spawned to produce limitless opportunities to gloat over their achievements. Of course, when the ancestors boast, they are not so much taking pride in the child’s successes as they are taking credit for having brought such progeny into the world. It is their accomplishment that demands the notice of others, and many unfailingly (and tediously) insist upon it.

Both my father and grandfather, a”h, were fond of quoting the verse from Mishlei (27:2) “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; [let a] stranger, and not your own lips.” Once we internalize that we are primarily boasting about our offspring because they are extensions of ourselves, the ethical harm is patently clear. The Chayei Adam wrote (in his introduction) that a person should never praise himself for his deeds because it will lead to haughtiness and other execrable traits. The same should apply to those within our family.

Social media is particularly detrimental in this regard because it magnifies the arrogance a thousand fold. Generally, this type of casual bragging reinforces to the child that the most important and worthwhile objective is to be noticed, to receive public acclaim for something – and if not, it is as if it never happened and has little value. That is an appalling message to teach children.

It is best, and more rewarding, when others tell us the accomplishments of our offspring, which we accept humbly and graciously. Even among immediate family, it is preferable not to boast as such will invariably lead to jealousy. Positive reinforcement should be offered privately.

Of course, I am tempted to carve out an exemption for my children and grandchildren … but it is bad form, practice and middot.

Rav Steven Pruzansky is Israel Region Vice-President for the Coalition for Jewish Values and author of “Repentance for Life” (Kodesh Press).

***

The Talmud in many places states very clearly that G-d despises people who are conceited or who brag about their status or the status of anyone in their family. One who brags, G-d dissociates himself from him/her. The true tzaddik is one who keeps his/her successes as private and recognizes that these accomplishments are a gift from G-d.

Nontheless, in essence there is nothing wrong in sharing good news with family and friends – not for the purpose of bragging but rather to elicit blessings on hearing the good news. But even there, one must be careful of ayin hara when sharing this news with the whole world. Though we are unclear of the definition of ayin hara or the damage that it may cause, it is a concept that is referred to by our Sages as something we should avoid. Considering the above, many people try to only share announcements of smachot, etc., just to family members and close friends.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss lives in Efrat Israel and previously served as an elementary and high school principal in New Jersey and Connecticut. He was also the founder and rav of Young Israel of Margate, New Jersey. Email ravmordechai@aol.com.

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