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How to Prepare our Children for Rosh Hashanah

Published on Tuesday October 13th, 2020

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we of course want to do Teshuva, so that we will find ourselves on Rosh Hashanah in front of the Master of the world having accumulated as much merit as possible.

As a mother, we also want to give our children a desire to make the most of this month of Elul to strengthen themselves in their service of the Creator.

The question is how to adapt the magical power of this period for our dear treasures. Of course, their schools, according to their ages, will teach our children details of the festival, they will learn songs, and they will certainly make a card for Rosh Hashanah.

But all this does not replace our work as parents. Whatever school teaches our children, we as parents have an important role to play.

Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg Zatzal, in a Torah class addressed to ladies, explained that there are two ways to do Teshuva: a Teshuva Meyira, out of fear (of punishment), and a Meahava, out of love (for Hashem). He recounted how Rav Yisrael Salanter ignited a match to voluntarily put his finger in a flame, to remember that the pain felt is only one sixtieth of the fire of Gehinam!

He went on to say that Teshuva for love is infinitely superior. We must do Teshuva so as not to hurt the Ribono Shel Olam - Master of the world! We must realize the immense love with which Hashem gratifies us, His beloved children.

Rav Sheinberg gave the example of a gentleman whose son went astray to the point that the father did not want to have any more contact with him. At the same time, the father had a beloved student, who listened to everything he said and he cherished him above all else.

One night a fire broke out in the building where the child and the pupil slept. Who did the father save first? His child of course!

This is the relationship we have with Hashem: even though we behave badly, very badly, He loves us as a father who cherishes his children, and who will always act out of love for us, wishing that we come closer to Him out of love for Him.

It is this awareness that allows us to do Teshuva Meahava.

To help us in this work, Rav Sheinberg gave a magnificent "tip": Hakarat Hatov, gratitude.

The work that I suggest that you do with your children is to teach them to say

"THANK YOU HASHEM".

This work can be done even with little ones, from the age of three.

Take a notebook, and every night when they get home from school, sit down for a moment with them and say, "What are we going to thank Hashem for today?" Note that these moments of exchange between mother and child are extremely beneficial.

You can help your child by asking them what was nice in their day, make them feel the help that Hashem gave them for every success, no matter how small.

"The weather was nice," "I sat next to my friend in class," "The teacher went over the lesson again that I did not understand", "Grandpa and Grandma are coming home from vacation", "The new teacher looks really nice"," The new girl was alone, I went to talk to her, thank you Hashem for giving me the opportunity to do this beautiful Mitzvah of Chesed", "I did not cry when Mom left, thank you Hashem for helping me to be strong...''

Then, all through the evening, take note of details: your little one fell without hurting himself, I found a place to park right in front of the house, etc. You help them to see life through the prism of Hakarat Hatov, gratitude to Hashem. Without forgetting what is the most important: "Thank you Hashem for giving me children like you!"

If events have upset them, depending on their age, we can also explain to them what to thank Hashem for. Take the example of a child who is disappointed because his friend did not want to give him candy. We can say "Thank you Hashem, because the dentist has found more cavities!"

When they are older, they learn that we do not always know what is best for us. In Hallel, we ask for success, without specifying in which area. Why? Because only Hakadosh Baruch Hu knows what is best for us.

We can then help them see that they can say thank You Hashem, even on less pleasant events.

Before Rosh Hashanah, we should reread with them all the notebook, with a wonderful feeling of love for Hashem, which will allow them and us to do a real Teshuva MeAhava!

Behatzlacha to you all, Shana Tova Umetuka, and may it be that through the merit of your investment in the education of your children, Hashem should fill you with His brachot, both in spiritual and material areas.

'Haya Esther SMIETANSKI

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