The long summer has drawn to a close, and the month of Elul — also known as the chodesh of rachamim and Selichos — has arrived. Sephardic Jews have already begun reciting Selichos each morning, and the sounds of the shofar are now being heard in shuls throughout the world.
Along with the arrival of this period of teshuvah, a new zman has begun.
A few weeks ago, we explored the painful saga of students left without a school or yeshivah. We appreciate the significant feedback we received and will, b’ezras Hashem, be publishing a collection of responses and additional interviews in an upcoming edition.
Those parents whose children, baruch Hashem, are enrolled in mosdos have much to be grateful for. Yet it is imperative that this gratitude also be accompanied by a firm commitment to do their part in the chinuch of their children.
We are privileged to live in a generation that is blessed with high-caliber mosdos staffed by devoted, knowledgeable and skilled mechanchim and mechanchos. On a daily basis, they do a superb job of fulfilling the mission they were entrusted with — educating our youth for much of their waking hours. In reality, though, it is the parents who are obligated to teach their children, and the Rebbeim and teachers are their messengers in this regard.
This, in turn, has caused some to reach the highly erroneous and hazardous conclusion that sending their children to yeshivah absolves them of their own parental responsibilities to be mechanech their children. Yet, as these stellar mechanchim will readily attest, a full partnership between the schools and parents is vital for the success of their joint mission. As much as Rebbeim and teachers will try to give individual attention to each student, they are still forced to divide their time and energy among 30 students. It is therefore incumbent upon parents to constantly look out for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their children before, during and after school.
So many parents today lead frenetically busy lives. In an age of instantaneous communication on handheld devices, even the dinner table — once considered strictly for family members — is now in many homes little more than an extension of the work desk. A stroll to the store, once a perfect time for a parent to bond with a child, now too often features the parent talking on a cellphone held in one hand, while ignoring the lonely child clutching the other hand.
This month, as we rededicate ourselves to return to our Avinu She’baShamayim, let us also commit to rejuvenating our relationships with our children of all ages. Whether it is Friday afternoon, during the seudos Shabbos, at melaveh malkah, or the various other opportunities that arise throughout the week, let us make every effort to focus on the children. Let us do our utmost to instill in them a love for Torah and Yiddishkeit. Let us help them connect with our ancestors and our magnificent mesorah, and fill their hearts with emunah and middos tovos.
There is nothing more important.