The highlight of the Yom Tov of Pesach is the Haggada and the significance of the Haggada is chinuch, v'hegadeta l'vincha. With this in mind, a collection of articles on chinuch habanim has been included in this issue.
On that note, I twould like to add my own thought about child education. We are all familiar with Hillel's response when asked to sum up the entire Torah "on one foot". He answers, "Do not do to others what is hateful to you. The rest is commentary, go and learn it." How many of us would assume that this message requires Torah study? Certainly Shabbos, tefillin, Yomim Tovim, require Torah learning and Torah knowledge. But do I need the Torah to teach me to refrain from doing to others what I don't want done to me? Also, how is this the root from which the whole Torah blossoms?
In Vayikra Rabba it states that the purpose of mitzvos is to purify one's middos. We are likewise taught (Pirkei Avos) that derech eretz is imperative to Torah study. Hillel's declaration is but merely one of many similar instructions. A good heart is only as healthy as it is wise, and it is the knowledge of Torah that gives the heart its goodness.
When we sit (or recline) at the Seder, we are required to relive the experiences of Yetzias Mitzrayim and feel as if we too were redeemed from exile. Obviously, such emotions are meant to strengthen our emuna in Hashem. It should also have a humbling affect on our day to day dealings with our fellow man. Compassionate, humble, charitable, and in general, rising above petty differences. After all, weren't we dealt with in a compassionate and kindly way when we were freed from bondage?
The Seder and all its attendant mitzvos are a commentary to Hillel's statement. You want your children to be good? Well don't teach them Emily Post, teach them Torah. Educating our children is more than having a good Jewish heart. We must educate them to lead lives dedicated to fulfillment of mitzvos.
Torah teaches discipline. To be considerate of others, to be a mentch, is no different than keeping the laws of Pesach. They both require discipline. And just as the laws of Pesach are absolute and unchanging, so is being a mentch absolute and unchanging. Just as listening to Hashem's mitzvos regarding tefillin and kashrus incorporates subservience and humility, so too should fulfillment of mitzvos bein adam l'chaveiro, the laws between man and his fellow man.
If we are a holy nation, a Goy Kadosh, it is because of our study of Torah. Educating our children in the ways of the Torah is our true and only legacy for the future of our people.
Wishing everyone a Chag Kasher V'Sameach.
Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz
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