Friday, August 6, 2010

When I Reflect on the Year That has Passed...

This time of year is always serious for me.  I feel obligated to go through the days of the year passed (those I remember) and reflect on the integrity of my behavior (myself to myself), the fairness honesty with which I have dealt with others, the fulfillment of my contract with God to help repair the world and the way in which I teach my child.

These are some of the things I must ponder.  My child is a girl, so I do not have to circumcise her.  We no longer arrange marriages, but my advise in this regard is freely given.  As for the rest...we'll see.

"A father [parent]is obligated to do the following for his son: to circumcise him, to redeem him if he is a first born (the firstborn son belongs to God and must be redeemed by payment to the priest/rabbi), to teach him Torah, to find him a wife, and to teach him a trade. Others say: teaching him how to swim as well." Bab. Talmud, Kiddushin 29a

Here are some other rabbinic statements about parents' obligations toward their children:
  • Never threaten children. Either punish them or forgive them. (Semahot 2:6)
  • Denying a child religious knowledge robs the child of an inheritance. (Talmud Sanhedrin 91b)
  • Every parent is obligated to train his/her children in the observance of mitzvot, for it is written: "Train a child according to his way." (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Mothers should introduce their children to the Torah. (Exodus Rabbah 28:2)
  • Anyone who does not teach his son a skill or profession may be regarded as if he is teaching him to rob. (Talmud Kiddushin 29a)
  • A father must provide his daughter with appropriate clothing and a dowry. (Code of Jewish Law, Even haEzer 71)
  • A father should be careful to keep his son from lies, and he should always keep his word to his children. (Talmud Sukkah 46b)
  • Anger in a home is like rottenness in fruit. (Talmud Sotah 3)
  • Rabbah said that a parent should never show favoritism among his/ her children. (Talmud Shabbat 10b)
  • If you strike a child, strike them only with a shoelace. (Talmud Baba Batra 21a)
  • A parent should not promise to give a child something and then not give it, because in that way the child learns to lie. (Talmud Sukkah 46b)
  • The parent who teaches his son, it is as if he had taught his son, his son’s son, and so on to the end of generations. (Talmud Kiddushin 36)
  • The parent who instructs by personal example rather than mere words, his/her audience will take his/her counsel to heart. The parent who does not practice what he/she so eloquently preaches, his/her advice is rejected. (Commentary to Ethics of Our Fathers)

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