Three elderly Jewish women are sitting on a bench bragging about their devotion to their sons.
The first one says: My child is so dedicated that last Christmas he gave to me an all-expenses-paid cruise around Europe. First Class!
The second is: My son has more devotion. He catered a complete dinner for me last summer, when I turned 75. He even gave me money to fly down to New York with my good friends.
The third said: My son is the most dedicated. He sees a psychiatrist at least three times a week. He pays him one hundred and twenty dollars per hour. What does he talk about all the time? Me.
The Jewish family’s intense connection is not a result of Jewish humor. Its roots are in the fifth Commandment: Honor your mother and father. The Talmudic era’s greatest Sages would give credit to their parents for the immense sacrifices they made. This contributed to their tremendous success.
Although raising children can be rewarding, it is also full of potential pitfalls. It has been a difficult task for parents, which they have struggled and agonized over. It is crucial to protect your children from the many unrefined influences of modern life.
It is this idea which is so beautifully mentioned in this weeks Terumah. This week introduces us the layout and design for the Mishkan, the holy Tabernacle built in the desert under God’s command.
The Holy Ark is the first article to be mentioned. The Torah describes how Moses built Keruvim, or Cherubs, on top the ark. They were made of gold with the face of children. These solid gold objects were able to face each other when the Jewish people rebelled against God. They faced each other when they were worthy of Divine favor, symbolically representing the healthy relationship between God’s children and His people.
The Torah also contains the word Keruvim in a different context. The Torah describes Adam’s transgression and how God deprived him of the tree of knowledge. God then sent the Keruvim to the East of Eden to guard the Tree of Life. Rashi interprets Keruvim as destructive angels in this context.
Keruvim can be used to describe angels who are perfect and faultless, or vice versa, destructive and vicious. The key is their location. The same goes for each of our children. Parents need to be vigilant about ensuring their children are placed in the right environment. We run the risk of raising destructive angels if we expose our children the modern revolving swords materialism and modernism.
If we associate them with the Ark and what it represents, with the Torah and its timeless value imbued in derech eretz, and menschlichkeit, then we will raise pure, angelic children.
Parents can learn a lot from Keruvim’s different meanings. It is crucial that our offspring are exposed to the right environment. It is one of most important factors that will determine if we raise Keruvim or Keruvim-like kids in the Garden of Eden.
As we raise our children as contributing members to society, we can be inspired by Malachi’s beautiful prophecy Vehaishivlev al banim (Malachi 3,24). It states that the investment we make in our children, joining our hearts with theirs, will yield results for them and us.
Menachem Sabbach, rabbi of North Eastern Jewish Centre and Dayan of Melbourne Beth Din, is Menachem.
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