Eikev: How not to confuse your children
Do we sometimes unfairly confuse our children?
It is possible, for example, that at school, a child is given direction and inspiration but that child comes home to find that the family values and what is practised at home are incompatible with what has been taught at school.
The Torah gives us instruction in this regard. In Parshat Eikev the famous second paragraph of the Shema gives us the mitzvah to educate our children:
“Velimadtem otam et bneichem ledaber bam,” – “And you (plural) must teach your children to speak these words of Torah.” (Devarim 11:19.)
This mitzvah is in the plural, Chazal explain, in order to teach us that as communities we must build, we must fund and we must run outstanding Jewish schools.
Then the Torah continues:
“beshivtecha beveitecha uvelechtecha baderech uveshochbecha uvekumecha,” in the singular – you must speak these words of Torah, “when you are sitting in your home, when you are on the way, when you get up and when you lie down.”
The sefer Menachem Tzion teaches us that from here we learn that what children are taught in school needs to be matched by the home environment. So when we are sitting at home, when we are engaged in our daily pursuits, when we are also on our way outside of our home when we’re at work, when we, are on a family vacation, when we get up, when we lie down and at all times, we should be living a true and authentic Torah way of life, just as the children have been taught about when they are in school.
Now fascinatingly just after this, the Torah reverts back to speaking in the plural,
“lema’an yirbu yemeichem viymei veneichem,” – “in order that your (plural) days and the days of your descendants may be increased.” (Devarim 11:21)
What we therefore find is that a holistic approach to Jewish education, getting it right both at school and in our homes, will be the ultimate guarantor for the continuity of the Jewish people.