Every student in PHDS knows that there are no extra words in the Chumash, so how do we explain the first posuk in this week’s parshah: “ויאמר ה' אל משה אמר אל הכּהנים בּני אהרן ואמרת אלהם לנפש לא יטּמּא בעמיו, SAY to the sons of Aharon, and you shall SAY to them: for a [dead] person he shall not become tomei,” where the word “say” appears twice?
The Gemora teaches us that Kohanim have a special obligation to ensure that even their young children should not become tomei. The first “say” refers to Kohanim over bar mitzvah, and the second refers to Kohanim who are ketanim, minors. The Bais Av says the entire posuk is referring to the adult Kohanim solely for the benefit of the ketanim! Hashem is telling Moshe to tell the adult Kohanim about the severity of the prohibition of tumoh and for them to repeat it to themselves. Through this repetition, the Kohanim will gain yiras Shomayim and become extra careful about this מצוה, which in turn will make an impression on the ketanim.
This is our mission: We all want to teach our children yiras Shomayim. We all know how to teach children to do mitzvos by wearing tzitzis, learning Torah with them, and teaching them to make brochos and to daven. But we also want our children to understand the gravity of doing an aveirah and appreciate what it is to do a mitzvah. Our children watch us carefully and learn from our actions. A child who observes such care in his parents’ observance of mitzvos is the one who will be truly impressed. It is an opportunity Hashem has given us to help our children in their spiritual growth.
I remember asking the great mashgiach, Rav Shlomo Wolbe, זצ“ל, how to instill yiras Shomayim in our children. He responded, “Make brochos out loud.” This echoes the sentiment of the Bais Av. A child who observes such care in his parent’s observance of mitzvos is the one who will be truly impressed. May we be zocheh to see all of our children grow yiras Shomayim.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School