This Shabbat we certainly have Rosh Hashanah and the Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah on or minds—or we should. This week’s Torah portion has words to give us pause…and hope.
It contains the statement: “Ha’nistarot l’Hashem Elokeinu” which translates as “the concealed acts are for HaShem…” which we all understand means that the sins we commit secretly, that no one sees are, in fact, seen and known well by God who deals with them accordingly. Deuteronomy 29:28. More poignantly the verse goes on to state: “v’ha’Niglos lanu u’levaneinu” which translates as “but those acts that are known are for us and our children….”
By focusing on our children, the Torah is warning us, say the commentators, that we influence our children by what they see us do (more than what they hear us say).
How important it is for us as parents to be role models of good behaviors. Recall the adage that children learn what they live. It is no surprise then that our children will be equally influenced when they witness the wrongs we may do—something as seemingly mundane as routinely speeding or hearing us justify so-called “white lies” (e.g. at the movies getting a children’s ticket for a 15 year—“just nod when I say you’re 12…”) to other much less mundane acts such as gossip and hurtful speech to errors of omission as when our children see us living lives which may disregard many beautiful traditions of our people.
Our children are influenced by what they see and eventually become us. Have you ever had one of those revelations? “Oh my God, I just said to my child what my Mother used to say to me!”
And that is how the verse ends—with the words “…ad-olam” that our acts that our children see and experience will affect not only them, but how they will raise their children. Yes, we live forever in the memories that our children have of us and in the influence upon them that transcends the generations—for good and the not so good, the healthful and the toxic.
As we experience Rosh Hashanah, the Torah teaches us to pray to be role models of excellent behaviors for our children and grandchildren in every way possible. We learn that every act and every omission is meaningful. It may have been a mole hill to us, but it was a mountain to our child.
Happily, this week’s Parasha also states “Lo bashamayim he.” Deuteronomy 30:12. “It is not in the Heavens…” We learn from this that all that God expects from us is within our reach and grasp.
It is all up to us. On Rosh Hashanah we pray to HaShem for strength to help us achieve role model status.
This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Herbert Yoskowitz who states that he will be teaching on the subject, “Parashat Nitzavim, Rashi and the Psalmist Respond to the” Bernie Sanders Phenomenon.” 9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as yo are. Stay as long as you like. Torah Study could be a role model opportunity.
Avinu Malkeynu, I pray for each of us to have a Shanah tovah u’metukah.