Rabbi David Ashear
A young mother named Elisheva* asked me, “What is the proper way to instill emunah in my children?”
I told her that besides talking to them directly about basic concepts – namely, that Hashem loves them and is always watching over them – she needs to speak about emunah in regular conversations at home. Whether at the Shabbat table or dinner, she should repeat stories of Hashem’s Hashgachah or different ideas that show His involvement in our lives. The children don’t necessarily have to be at the age where they grasp everything that’s being said; it’s enough that they hear these concepts as a topic of conversation and see that their parents strongly believe in them.
I then told Elisheva the following story.
A woman named Leora* emailed that she has her children listen to a daily message on emunah at the dinner table every night. Over the past couple of years, she has seen a major difference in their emunah and this brings her much satisfaction.
Recently, one of her daughters in elementary school, whom we’ll call Sarah, came home and told her that the girls in her class were saying earlier that day that they really needed a free period instead of their next class. They were feeling overwhelmed by schoolwork and were scheduled to have a test for which they did not feel prepared. Sarah told her friends, “Let’s say some Tehillim and ask Hashem to get the next period free.”
The other girls began to laugh. “You can’t ask Hashem for something so small,” they giggled. “Don’t bother Him with this.”
Drawing on all her emunah lessons, Sarah smiled and said, “Nothing is too small for Hashem.” And she began to say Tehillim.
A few minutes later, the teacher strode into the room. All the girls looked at Sarah. “We told you so!” they cried. “See, your tefillah didn’t help!”
But then, the teacher spoke. “Girls,” she said, “I have to apologize. I have an appointment to speak with the principal in a few minutes, so I’ll be giving you a free period.”
Sarah felt vindicated. “Thank you, Hashem,” she whispered.
When I finished telling this, Elisheva asked, “But what if the teacher had come in and given the class as usual? Then what would we tell Sarah?
I told her we would say, “Hashem heard your tefillah, It was so precious to Him that you asked Him to help you even with this, and you will be rewarded for that prayer. But Hashem knew that the best thing for you would be to have the class that day. Maybe because you were prepared enough for the test, you will get a higher grade than if it had been postponed for another day.”
We should always seek to find reasons and explain that what just happened was good. We should always find reasons to explain to the children that Hashem only looks out for their best, even when it doesn’t seem that way. They might not necessarily incorporate all the lessons they hear in the home. Maybe it’ll take a year, two years – it doesn’t matter. If we’re speaking about emunah in the home, they’re definitely absorbing it. And therefore, it is incumbent upon us, as best we can, to talk about Hashem’s Hashgachah in the home and instill emunah in our children. By doing this, we will be giving them the greatest gift and tool for life.
* Names have been changed.