Friday, August 24, 2007

An interesting thought...

This past Shabbos, as we were reading the weekly Parsha, I came across something I found to be interesting.
Devarim 18:09 - When you come to the Land that HASHEM your God has given you, do not learn to do like the abominations of these nations.
The narraritive is describing when the Jews will enter the Holy Land, how they will encounter the other nations their, and witness their practices, religious and otherwise. We are warned against learning from these nations, and adopting their actions, and the Torah continues to enumerate the various nations and what they do.
Rashi (the foremost commentary on the Torah) adds in a very important - and in my opinion, revealing - comment:
18:09 - "Do not learn to do" - but you should learn, in order to understand and teach ( a quote from the Sifri ). This means, to understand their deeds, and how they are cursed, and to teach your children "don't do such and such, for those are the ways of the nations."
Isn't that interesting? Rashi is teaching us an important lesson in the fundamentals of parenting: education.
The question, however, is how we go about applying this lesson? What exactly does it mean?
Many would like to say that the best way to raise our children to be God fearing Jews would be complete insulation from the outside world. It's possible that that choice could be the best way, in an ideal situation, where we are able to properly insulate ourselves, i.e. when we are self sufficient, and do not depend on the outside world ( when that is is another discussion entirely).
But what about nowadays? Whether we like it or not, the reality of our situation is that we are in exile. More than that, we are firmly entrenched in a world that is rife with secularism, where gratification of the senses and pursuit of bodily pleasure is King.
Do we, in fact, educate our children in the "ways of the world"? If the answer is yes, then how do we educate? What are the parameters, what are the limits? What is proper and necessary, and what is gratuitous and dangerous?

Any suggestions?

6 comments:

Moe said...

if you look around you'll see that everyone seems to have a way that they feel is right and it's something that people feel very strongly about! i feel it's very important to know whats out there and how not to do it! but you run a fine line of knowing to much and you can be the one teaching your kids things you really dont want them to know..... it's a very hard topic to explan in such a forum but i hope to see you soon and i would like to talk to you about this!

anonym00kie said...

i never understood this idea of not wanting kids to know things for fear that it will lead them to do it. that never happens. i dont even think its rational - can anyone give me an example of how that would happen?
i agree that an insular system would work great if it were possible - not because it will protect people from doing what they shouldnt, but because it will keep their hearts and minds pure from what they dont need to know. but like you said in your post, thats NOT possible today.

i think a kid will be much less tempted to do or see things if he knows it's wrong but not taboo (and preferably if they understand WHY its wrong). a child's development is all about satisfying his curiosity and discovering the world, the more things are hidden and taboo, the more curious we are.
i think people have an easier time understanding and dealing with why something is wrong, than why people dont talk about "it"

jewmaican20 said...

Well, m00k, part of the problem is that there is no stark contrast; no black and white.
If we start compartmentalizing certain things, it becomes extremely difficult to explain to children ( or teenagers, or anyone who doesn't have much experience in the world), the various subtleties of the world and people. That's one issue that raises an extreme difficulty.

In addition, while taboo doesn't help, that doesn't mean that the alternative is to just open up the world and tell our kids "...this stuff? All this, that looks so enticing? It's fake, it's bad, it's evil, take our word for it."
My father gave me long speeches about smoking, about drugs, how they can ruin your life, etc. That didn't stop me, until I tried it for myself.
But we never want our kids to have to go through that. Sure, sometimes they have to learn from their own mistakes, but we wouldn't want them losing a finger just to learn that firecrackers can be dangerous...

jjl said...

SO i jsut got back from two weeks in eilat wearing green. spent most of my time hiding behind rocks waiting for some one to bring drugs, cigerettes, hookers. or guns over the boarder. either that or riding in large vehicals on dusty rodes. thank G_d it was really boring. anyhow this discussion reminds me of previous posts.
I mentioned before of developing immunitizations to spiritual damaging effects. if you have proper exposure combined with the understanding of the damage that such actions cause you can protect yourself while living in the world. SLight exposure also gets you to not go crazy and fall into full exposure. It also teaches you not to fear the tools of the world but how to use them properly without damaging you. Alittle fire warms you up and cooks your food, too much burns
jjl

karma dude said...

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe we covered this topic a couple of months ago. Keeping your children insulated is a great idea in theory, but can only work to you and your children’s benefit if they stay insulated for ever which is highly unlikely. The better bet I believe is to educate them so that when they are exposed to the real world later in life they aren’t overwhelmed.

jewmaican20 said...

JJ- Huh. Didn't know you were called in for Miluim. Thank God it went without a hitch. Glad to have you back...
Karma Dude- We touched on iy several times, in fact. But my main point of this post was to point out this Rashi, who seems to be saying that we go contrary to insulation. If that's the case, then the question of application arises...