Another powerful tool to create constant awareness of Hashem is telling stories of Divine Providence at the Shabat table. When each family member shares a moment when they felt Hashem’s presence, it strengthens their spiritual connection.
Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein (a”h) was known to give his daughters a small coin for each hashgachah peratit story that they would relate to him. Imagine the profound effect of identifying the Hand of Hashem in our lives. When parents recount a story that clearly shows a series of coincidences, they should begin the story with the words, “What hashgachah peratit happened to me today!” When this becomes our manner of speaking, our children will also begin to frame their stories in the same way. Children who hear about hashgachah will look for hashgachah themselves. Over time, they will develop a spiritual perspective concerning the world.
Chinuch, however, extends beyond this emotional connection. When Hashem is one’s focus, we need to include midot as well. It is a parent’s responsibility to teach his child to behave properly, not only because it is good manners, but because it is the way to emulate Hashem.
When a child does a chesed, the parent should praise the child for acting in a God-like manner. Rabbi Aharon Kotler (a”h), notes in his Sefer, Mishnat Rav Aharon that we mistakenly think that deveikut is about religious rituals like covering our heads in talitot and davening fervently. But the best way to cling to Hashem, is to follow in His ways. Hashem is kind and merciful, and we need to behave likewise. Smiling at others, complimenting them, and helping people – these are all forms of deveikut.
The message to our children is that Judaism encompasses all aspects of personal conduct, not just formal religious observance. Hashem gives without expecting reciprocation; we need to follow suit.
Read Part 8 For More Insights