From The Desk of Rabbi Baumann... Erev Shabbos Parashas Pekudei 5779


Dear Parents,
A generation ago, the prevailing belief of child psychologists as to how to raise successful, effective children held that self-esteem was the key. This notion fostered in its wake, a plethora of ideas as to how to make children feel they were great. There was one problem. The children were too clever to buy into the notion that they were smart, for example, when they performed poorly on tests, knew that they did not understand the work and trailed behind their classmates.
Self-esteem does indeed hold great importance for a child’s success, but it must be based on reality. To tell a four year old who presents a scribbled paper and tell him he’s a great artist will lead him eventually to realize that either the parents are not truthful, or are blind, or he can’t trust his own judgment. It’s important to build up a child, but it can’t be too far-fetched as to lose credibility with the child.
There is an aspect of every child and adult that is the source for a real and meaningful sense of self-value and esteem. In this week’s parasha, the Mishkan is referred to as the Mishkan HaEidus (Shemos 38:21), the Tabernacle of Testimony. Chazal explain that the testimony refers to the fact that that Mishkan itself served as proof that Hashem had forgiven the Jewish People for the sin of the Eigel HaZahav, the Golden Calf. Had Hashem not forgiven the Jewish People, He would not have invested the Mishkan with the Shechina – His Divine presence.
Our Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi Binyomin Luban, Shlita asked (Sefer Yesod Yisrael) why was it so important for the Jewish People to know they were forgiven that it justified that aspect of the Mishkan being emphasized more than all the other benefits the Mishkan brought to Klal Yisrael? To answer, Rabbi Luban quoted the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (2:13) – Do not be a Rasha (evil) in front of yourself. The commentators explain, that if one considers himself evil, he won’t make the effort to avoid temptation and sin, since whether he resists or doesn’t, he is still a Rasha, so what’s the purpose of struggling to be good? This explains why it was so important for the Jews to understand that they were forgiven. They would now consider themselves to be honorable people, and act accordingly, in a dignified and not lowly fashion.
This type of self-esteem is very precious for our children. To feel oneself as worthy and significant because Hashem loves him and will forgive even his worst sin if he attempts Teshuva, is so validating and so real. Bringing home this message to our children, especially those who struggle academically or socially, can be invaluable, to reverse any negative self-image trend.
We are all children of Hashem, and by realizing that his loving Father will still love him no matter how many mistakes and shortcomings he has, will catapult any child to a meaningful feeling of self-worth that will positively impact every facet of his or her life.
Best wishes for a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Baumann

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