June 25, 2024
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June 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Torah, around which all of Judaism revolves, can be compared to the sun. If so, the Aseret Hadibrot are like the sun’s core, making them the center of the center of the Jewish universe.

For the Feldman family, this truth was in clear view every day. They owned a beautiful artistic depiction of the Dibrot, and this piece of art could be seen immediately upon walking into their home. Ari and Rachel Feldman (Mommy and Abba to their children) often used the Aseret Hadibrot to explain right and wrong to their children, Kayla (13), Joshua (13), Shaya (10) and Kira (6). When the twins reached the age of bar or bar mitzvah, each wrote his or her own “Aseret Hadibrot” to outline their personal priorities.

Every once in a while, Mishpachat Feldman would hold an “Aseret Hadibrot Week,” during which each child would think about how their choices fit with the Aseret Hadibrot. (The younger children got some help from Mommy and Abba.) The family would review their week at the Shabbat table and if Mommy and Abba were satisfied with the children’s performance, they would take a family trip on Sunday.

The latest Aseret Hadibrot Week had a lot riding on the Feldman children’s success. The local “super-mall” just added an indoor helicopter pilot training bubble and a giraffe-riding experience to its already amazing lineup (just in case the indoor water park, indoor theme park, indoor football stadium, indoor tropical island, indoor scuba diving, indoor ski slope, indoor bobsled track, indoor parasailing, indoor skydiving, and indoor race car track wasn’t enough). The kids were hoping to go to one of the new attractions as a reward.

So, the week went by with the children being as careful as possible to keep to the Aseret Hadibrot. None of four siblings borrowed the possession of another without permission (stealing), squashed a bug (killing), exaggerated (false witness), or said “no fair” (jealousy). The children made sure to do whatever their parents asked, bought food for Shabbat each day of the week, and said Shema with a lot of focus. The children weren’t perfect (Kira and Shaya each missed a morning of brushing teeth, Joshua forgot to pack his lunch one day, and Kayla spent a bit too much time on her iPad), but overall, they felt confident!

At the table on Shabbat, each Feldman kid went through everything he or she could think of from the week that related to the Aseret Hadibrot. Their parents listened attentively as the children discussed successes, failures, decisions, and mistakes they tried to fix. By the time dessert rolled along after lunch, Mommy and Abba felt impressed with their children’s performance, but weren’t 100% sure. The parents huddled together at the dining room table, while the kids prepared the cookies, cake and fruit for dessert. By the time all the food was on the table, Mommy and Abba Feldman were ready to announce their decision.

“OK kids,” began Abba Feldman. “We have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?” The kids looked at each other and shrugged. “OK,” added Mommy Feldman “Let’s go with the bad news first. We will not be going anywhere this Sunday.” The children’s shoulders shifted from shrugging to slumping. “However,” continued Mommy, “we will give you a chance to earn a trip next week if you can figure out how two of you missed a bit of Kibbud Av Va’em this past week. You have until next Friday night and you can all work together to figure it out.”

This possibility lifted the siblings’ spirits. “We can do that!” announced Shaya. “This will be a piece of cake!” His father smiled. “No Shaya. I don’t think it will be, but THIS is!” And he handed Shaya a plate with dessert. The kids groaned but then quickly switched to forced laughs. “Kibbud Av Va’em! Laugh at your parents’ jokes!” giggled Joshua as he reached for a cookie.

As predicted by their father, the four (well, really three) Feldman siblings had a tough time figuring out the culprit. The three oldest children went back over their notes from the week, and nothing stood out. They had done everything their parents asked in addition to their usual responsibilities. Did they miss a birthday? Nope. Anniversary? Nope. Mothers’ Day? Fathers’ Day? Nope and nope. This was turning out to be really hard. By the time Thursday evening rolled around, Kayla, Joshua and Shaya (and Kira) were ready to give up.

However, at the last second, Kayla decided to go with her friends to “Parsha and Pilates and Protein and Pastels,” a weekly learning (and other stuff) program for eighth-grade girls. That evening, the first d’var Torah was about a mitzvah that comes up at the end of Parshat Vayikra. The girl who spoke brought up the pesukim at the end of the parsha that discuss stealing from the Mikdash and then talk about stealing from other people. The speaker asked a simple question: “The entire parsha is about the Mikdash and korbanot; why bring up stealing from other people?” She also pointed out other similarities comparing the two types of stealing. What is this all meant to teach us?

As Kayla listened to the answer, her eyes got wider and wider. The second the speech ended, she jumped from her seat and ran straight home. “I got it! I got it!” exclaimed Kayla breathlessly as she burst through the front door. With the entire family playing a board game in the kitchen, Kayla’s audience was all in one place. “Mommy and Abba, Joshua and I are so sorry that we were fighting this week!” Josh took the cue and joined in. “Yeah, so um, sorry.” Kayla continued, “We didn’t realize that by fighting we were also hurting you! This is just like stealing from another person. It hurts that person but it is also an attack on Hashem who cares about each individual. We’ll do better!”

The giraffe rides were awesome.


Yair Daar is the middle school dean of students at Yeshivat He’Atid. He can be reached at [email protected].

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