My background is in education. I’ve taught in many Hebrew schools and Jewish day schools over the years. I also come from a family of educators. Both my parents were educators and my grandfather was a Rabbi and educated many people during his lifetime. Since my children were born, I’ve been contemplating the best way to educate them. The truth is education doesn’t begin when children reach the age of 5 and enter school. Education begins at home from the moment children are born.
The most powerful lessons occur where studies intersect with real life. As a parent, we can use classic works to teach. For example, there are so many lessons that we can learn from the Torah. The jealousy of Josephs’s brothers, the struggle from slavery to freedom that the Israelites experienced, and the mercy that Hashem showed the Israelites after building the Golden Calf. Learning Torah gives us the opportunity to learn about our past. Parashat Ha’azinu is Moshe’s final address to the Israelites. Moshe begins:
יַעֲרֹ֤ף כַּמָּטָר֙ לִקְחִ֔י תִּזַּ֥ל כַּטַּ֖ל אִמְרָתִ֑י כִּשְׂעִירִ֣ם עֲלֵי־דֶ֔שֶׁא וְכִרְבִיבִ֖ים עֲלֵי־עֵֽשֶׂב
“May my discourse come down as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, Like showers on young growth, Like droplets on the grass. (Deuteronomy 32:2)”
Rabbi Sacks states that “The Torah is compared to rain precisely to emphasise that its most important effect is to make each of us grow into what we could become. We are not all the same, nor does Torah seek uniformity.”
The goal of education is to do precisely that, to make each of us grow into what we can become. It begins by us modeling the behavior we expect our children to mirror. An easy way for us to educate our children is to spend some time each day reading from TaNach (Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim). Obviously we must start slow with small children, and increase the amount of time and discussion as they grow.
My hope is that we can all to grow in our Torah learning and good deeds so that we can grow into what we can become and develop future generations to do the same.