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It's Not About Monkeys

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Vaeschanan

Aug 3, 2012

                                                                       Parshas Va’Eschanan 5772


The parshah of Va’Eschanan talks about children.


As the Torah says, “Shma Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. Listen, Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is one. Love G-d with all your heart, all your soul, with all your might. Place these words constantly upon your heart. Teach them to your children  (perek 6, posuk4).


Guard my statutes and laws that I command you, you, your children, your children’s children, as long as you live (perek 6, posuk 2).


When your child asks you, tomorrow, what are these testimonies and laws the G-d has commanded you? (perek 6, posuk 20).


The Torah warns against intermarriage by saying, “He will take your child away from me. (perek 7, posuk 4).


It is clear that having children and raising them in the path of Torah and Mitzvos is our “religion incarnate”. It is not just one of the many requirements of our avodas Hashem. It is cardinal. It is primary. It is an ultimate goal.


And yet, the Torah also states, “Ki soelid banim uvnei vanim venoshantem ba’aretz ve’hish’chatem.” - You will give birth to children and grandchildren. You will age in the land. You will destroy yourself through your evil actions (perek 4, posuk 25).


Having children can provide a source for rebellion against G-d. They can cause one to forget Hashem.


How can the same entity be a cause for the noblest of accomplishments and the deepest of descents?


To understand this, one must go back, back in time, to the first occasion of a child’s entry into this world.


“And she gave birth to Kayin, saying, man has acquired G-d” (Breishis, perek 4, posuk 1).


What was the intent of Chava Imeinu, when naming her first child, the first child that ever was?


There are two possible meanings inherent in her words.


Giving birth to children is a sign of permanence upon this world. They facilitate eternity. Even as the parent passes away, there is a remnant, and that remnant leaves a remnant, and so on and so on.


When one is assured of permanence, one begins to feel comfortable. When one’s existence is assured then there is less room for personal responsibility to a higher power. Man may reason that he can do as he wishes. He has “acquired” G-d, chas veshalom. This is one meaning.  (see Ramban, Devarim, perek 4, posuk 25)


The other meaning is more profound.


The gemara tells us, there are three partners in the creation of man, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the father and the mother. (Niddah 31a). The act of bringing in a child into this world is one of partnership. The parents join together with G-d in creating something special, something unique, something beyond this world. Through the joint contribution of the three partners, something other-worldly becomes a part of our mundane world, blessing the physical world with the presence of a being possessed of a soul that is far removed from a mere animal like existence.


The parents bond together with G-d, kivayachol. They become as one with Him, so to speak. This is an altogether different understanding of the words, “Man has acquired G-d” (Rabeinu Bachaye, Breishis, perek 1, posuk 28).


It all depends on one’s attitude. If one views child-bearing as a father monkey and a mother monkey giving birth to a baby monkey, thus ensuring the presence of monkeys in this world for all eternity, then the focus is on the animalistic. The results of such an attitude will lead one to the pit of destruction.


If the act of bringing a child into the world is one that is infused with sanctity, with a higher purpose, then it is a connection and a bond with the divine. Raising such children will be a continuation of the process of birth. The child will be included in the special bond that the parents have forged with their Creator since the child’s inception.


This is why child bearing occupies such a pivotal part in our religion.


When viewing this process from such a vantage point it is easy to understand that this process is not limited to giving birth to natural born children. Any time one’s efforts to attain a relationship with the Creator is blessed with success, others around will benefit from having such a person in their midst. Any positive effect on others, any change effected in one’s surroundings for the better is one’s spiritual offspring. This is something that does not and can not occur when giving birth to a baby monkey.

 

Now perhaps we can gain a new insight in what the young girls (who were not necessarily attractive) were saying to their young suitors on Tu B'Av, "Place your eyes (your attention) on children, for a woman is only for children."

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