This past Wednesday afternoon I was driving home when my nine year old son called me and excitedly told me, “Tatty I have amazing news! Rubashkin is out of jail!” I realized that the great miracle that Klal Yisroel has just experienced was being celebrated by the youth too. I saw it again on Friday night when I came home from shul and all my kids screamed out at once, “Tatty, can you please tell us stories about Rubashkin?”
I’m starting to recognize that for the past eight years Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin was a man who was deeply etched in the heart of every young Jewish child. Rabbaim and teachers spoke about him in their classes, and parents talked about him over their supper tables. The children thought about him. They read about him. They cared so much about him. They davened for him. And now the children are all rejoicing in his great miracle.
As mechanchim and parents we have many values that we are constantly teaching our children. We all know that there are certain special times when a child’s heart opens and we can fill it up with these values. We are forever looking for these special moments so we can catch them and use them to teach. Without question, we are right now in middle of one of these powerful times. The children are so full of emotion. Positive emotion. Their hearts are so full with feelings of excitement we must seize the moment to teach them.
It seems clear that the value which is to be taught at this time is emunah. We have a special opportunity where we can tell our children about Hashem and His endless love towards us, and THEY CAN FEEL IT. The children have lived through the sadness and despair of the eight years in prison, and right now they are feeling the sensation of freedom and redemption. The words “Yad Hashem” that they heard so many times is now a hand that they see and feel. Now is the time for us to tell them again and again of Hashem’s strength and Hashem’s love.
Let’s remember that our greatest challenge in this generation is that we are teaching our children so many heilige values that are not tangible nor visual. At the same time, they are living within a western world that presents them its pleasures in a very visual real way. We use all types of stories and mashalim to create in the children some level of excitement so they will connect to the Torah’s teachings. But now we don’t need any tricks. They can feel it. It’s so real to them.
Our responsibility now is to slowly replay for our children the last eight years. We have to retell them the story they lived through. Only now, we must emphasize the Borai Oilam’s presence at every point. We now have to infuse into the hearts of our children all the feelings that Reb Shalom Mordechai had for all these years. Reb Shalom Mordechai lived with absolute emunah. There wasn’t a moment that he didn’t feel the presence of the Borai Olam with him in his cell. He spoke about this, he wrote about this, and this was the source of his unusual simchas hachayim in his dreadful situation. Reb Shalom Mordechai didn’t just encourage himself with hopes of leaving. He honestly believed with a full heart that his loving Father in Heaven would bring him back to his family.
Now that we are at the end of this miracle, it is so easy for us to teach this great emunah and bitachon as part of the story. Tell the children to close their eyes and picture again the scene of R’ Shalom Mordechai in jail. Tell them to feel again the emotions of pity and sadness that they felt. And now tell them to feel that Shalom Mordechai wasn’t there himself. Hashem was there with him. Hashem watched over him. And Hashem lovingly took him out in the most miraculous way. Then tell them, “Hashem is always with you. Hashem loves you dearly. Hashem and only Hashem watches you and will save you from any tzarah r”l.”
Hashem gave us a unique gift this past week. He gave us a real feeling of all the love that we believe and know He has towards us. He told us so clearly that in the greatest darkness He will always shine the light for us. We have to hold on to this gift by talking about it and carefully teaching it to our children.
Rabbi Akiva Klein is a rebbe in Mesivta Bais Aron Tzvi Veretzky in Brooklyn, NY. Please send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org