Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Torah Tots

One Saturday, it occurred to me that my children are not receiving the Torah. Since they are 2 and 3, they are in the nursery during the Shabbat service, if they are not asleep. Then on Saturdays, I may go to Torah study, but again, they are with a sitter. I realized that I was shirking my duty as a mother. Yes, we read bible story books, but it is not the same as setting aside time to learn Torah and making it special and set apart, which is what Shabbat is all about. Who says children can't be exposed to Torah at that age? Can't a toddler learn something from Moses striking the rock and not getting to go into the promised land? When you read this story with a toddler in mind, life lessons like "use your words" and "no hitting" come to mind. The Word of God itself speaks of the importance of teaching children:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."  - Deuteronomy 6:4-7 
What does it mean to teach them diligently? In English, the definitions I found were; 1. constant in effort to accomplish something; 2. done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking. Those definitions in and of themselves speak a lot as to how I am to teach my children the Word of the Lord. In Hebrew, the root word is shanan (שָׁנַן) which mean to whet, or sharpen. Well, this adds another aspect. When teaching them they should be made eager to learn His word and should be sharpened like a tool for the Lord. Wow. I do need to get busy.

So I have made a point to begin giving lessons of Torah to my children in a preschool format. To me, this is the best thing I can do right now. I have been to many Torah studies over the years. I definitely still need to keep my own personal studies up when it comes to learning the word of God. But I believe with all my heart that this is the season for me to teach my children. And why shouldn't it begin now? Anyone who has taught before knows that you end up learning a lot and retaining more when you have to prepare a lesson for children. 
Guillito & Judah painting mezuzahs
The first week we began with Moses and the wanderings in the desert. They now know 1) who Moses is and 2) that he was in the desert for 40 years. Not bad. The next week, we learned a shortened English version of the Shema, we made a mezuzah for their rooms, and learned a song about mezuzahs. The next week we learned about the importance of following God's commandments and the rewards and blessings that follow. Also about consequences when we do not obey. This was focused on listening to your parents also with an emphasis on sharing (Something toddlers need to be reminded of a lot.)
Our homemade mezuzahs
I am getting more and more excited about this precious time I have with my children. And I feel good that I am not leaving it up to someone else to teach my children Torah. I am in charge of them learning about Torah. And hopefully this is something that they will always remember; our special Saturday morning Torah Preschool when we colored together and learn the Word of the Lord. I don't believe any child should be excluded from this beautiful tradition of hearing the Torah. I fail to find the verse where it states you must be of a certain age before learning Torah. After all, Yeshua Himself said, "Let the little children come to me." 
Painting the word "SHARE"
Other verses to consider:

"Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD."  - Psalm 34:11

"We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, That  the generation to come might know, {even} the children {yet} to be born, {That} they may arise and tell {them} to their children,  That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments." - Psalm 78:4-7

"and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for {the good of} their children after them." - Jeremiah 32:39

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." - Ephesians 6:4