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In this week's parashah, the Torah predicts what will happen at the end of days. After the Jewish Nation is dispersed throughout the Diaspora around the world, having suffered from all of the terrible curses of the terrifying Tochachah (Rebuke), there will be a mass Teshuvah (repentance) Movement which will culminate in the Final Redemption.
It will be that when all these things come upon you -- the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you -- then you will take it to your heart among all the nations where Hashem, your G-d, has dispersed you. And you will return unto Hashem, your G-d, and listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul. Then Hashem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your G-d, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there Hashem, your G-d, will gather you in and from there He will take you. Hashem, your G-d, will bring you to the Land that your forefathers possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. Hashem, your G-d, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, to love Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live (Devarim 30:1-6).
One of these passages seems strange. The Torah says, "And you will return unto Hashem, your G-d, and listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul." To whom is Moshe Rabbeinu speaking? He is addressing all of the adults of the Jewish Nation. Now, if their children are also adults, then Moshe is talking to them too and they are included in "you." Why do they have to be mentioned separately? And if they are minors, and, therefore, are included in "your children," what sins do they have and how can they repent? Minors are not yet obligated to observe the mitzvahs.
The answer is found in the commentary of the Ramban.
And the explanation of "And you will return unto Hashem, your G-d, and listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today, you and your children," is that you will return to Hashem with all your heart and soul and accept upon yourselves and upon your children for all of their generations to observe all which I command you today, just as they did at the time of the Second Redemption (when they returned to Israel from Babylon and built the Second Temple) as it says (Nechemiah 10:30), "They join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse, and an oath, to walk in G-d's Torah, which was given by Moshe the servant of G-d, and to observe and do all the commandments of Hashem our G-d, and His judgments and His statutes."In other words, part of one's individual teshuvah is that he takes it upon himself that his children too will follow in the path of the Torah. This is similar to the declaration we make every morning after we recite the Shema: "His words are living and enduring, faithful and delightful forever and to all eternity; for our forefathers and for us, for our children and for our generations, and for all the generations of Your servant Israel's offspring."
But how can one accept upon himself that his children will be religious? Surely they have their own free choice and will make their own decisions.
The answer is that part of one's teshuvah must be to live the kind of lifestyle which will help his children make the proper choices. Of course there is no guarantee what kind of life they will choose to live, but every parent must at least try his and her very best to make it easier for them to make the right decisions. For instance, perhaps one is offered a tempting job in a non-religious atmosphere. He may be sure that he will be strong in his religious convictions even there (although that is not at all so simple either), but he must take into consideration that it will be so much more difficult for his children to be religious in that kind of environment.
This is an all-encompassing deliberation which one must always bear in mind in every aspect of his and her life. How will what I do affect my children? How does my dress code and behavior; my manner of speech; the friends I have; the car I drive; the things I own; the job I have, etc., etc., influence and affect them?
When we do teshuvah on the upcoming Days of Awe, and plan to better our lives, we have to try our best to create an environment which will assure not only our commitment to Hashem but also the commitment of our coming generations. Then we will be blessed with a kesivah vechasimah tovah.
Today, we are witnessing the return of thousands of ba'alei teshuvah around the world; just as the Torah predicted. Let us hope that we will also be privileged to partake in the Geulah Sheleimah (complete Redemption), very, very soon, Amen.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network