Monday, November 17, 2008

Talmud Torah and Chinuch

Although Chazal teach the greatness of Torah study, many contemporary mechanchim point out that spending time with one’s children is not considered bitul Torah. In recent generations, this has been emphasized by gedolim such as HaRav Mordche Gross שליט"א, HaRav Yisroel Kleiner שליט"א (a talmid of the Brisker Rov זצ"ל), HaRav Moshe Sternbuch שליט"א, among many others.
A certain man came to his Rav to discuss his son. The man said that he just did not have a close relationship to the boy and it worried him.
After some probing, it emerged that the father sat at the Shabbos table with his nose buried in a sefer. Despite having an ideal opportunity to build a close relationship with his son, the father was more interested in his learning. Needless to say, this was one of the prime reasons for the distance between them. The Rav suggested that the man spend more time with his son and take him out to the zoo or on some other trip.
The father duly followed the Rav’s instructions. Some time later, the man came back to the Rav and said that although he had taken the boy on outings, it had not helped one whit.
The Rav asked, “Where did you go and what did you do while you were out together?”
The father said, “We went to the zoo.”
The Rav asked, “Didn’t your son enjoy the trip?”
The father answered, “I believe so.”
The Rav was confused, “What do you mean, ‘You believe so.’ Weren’t you with him?”
The father admitted, “Of course I was with him…but naturally I brought along a sefer.” While the father spent the time learning, his son looked at the animals!

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