Sunday, April 27, 2014

Seven Laws of Discipline?

Here in good 'ole 2014 we live in a society where if we perform the above picture's antics, we will have a very short - lived parenthood; even worse, a criminal record to boot!

As is blatantly obvious, the picture above is not intended to be one of unnecessary violence, but rather depicts a scenario that every adult with children faces - how to justly discipline our kids [and with justification].  In one sense, this is one of the most foundational pillars of the entire Torah [if not in fact its most paramount!] and has the power to include the entire Torah when done properly. Welcome to the World of Chinuch [child management and maturation process instilled by parents according to the Torah's ideals].

The Torah has been the pioneer in this field, for it is a direct command for Torah parents to indoctrinate their children to go in the ways of God. Jewish communities for this reason have a special emphasis on child development; their kids have an identity from this upbringing, along with activities such as camp, after school [Hebrew] school, and an assortment of youth groups and religious social congregations. The goal is to instill the values that adults crave and wish to possess in harnessed quality by the time of adulthood. One could say that everything good and bad has spawned from such a revelation - either for child exploitation or child brilliance. Either young leaders are made from this, or the opposite, children can be exploited for every evil known to mankind can come of this occupation. Point blank - are you raising a mentch or planting every form of brutality and bigotry into the innocence of youth [and everything in between]?

I suppose the guidelines are simple when put into simple terms: be a tzaddik [righteous soul] and it is assumed you are raising your kids according to the perfect Torah truth, or you are a rasha [evil person] and you are raising another rasha.

But this is a very black and white draconian view of a very serious element of reality, and the amount of people that can truly learn to be righteous is minimal while the truly evil is also a small number; most people are just uneducated and poorly guided in the ways of God, after all, the Torah is infinite and overwhelming for most to focus on a viable path of success.

It then occurred to me, as I was watching my kids on Shabbat, and I often found myself murmuring in my mind, "Why God, do I have to be a referee to my 5 and 4 year old?! - Can't they get along?!" It was just then that the idea of the Noahide Laws have a special function in Chinuch. If the laws are an ethical system, one meant to refine, and the refinement is meant to teach the Nations the beginning of the ways of God - could this not then be a great guide for early Chinuch? Granted, this won't teach the kids let's say the values of Zionism like a lot of youth groups preach to their youth [a Love for Israel], but along the lines that a 5 year old learns the same Torah that the 85 year old learns, perhaps its the same moral ethical code for ALL of Mankind - including our little ones.

So I put it to the test:

Does my child steal? YES! I constantly have to remind them of this, not to steal each other's things.

Do they kill? YES! If you don't watch little kids play they can do dangerous things - this is not a joke, teaching not to hit [in the head] is common and could lead to disaster if not properly educated against. Look at how much violence is in our world today - and one must think, how much was this indoctrinated to youth [toy guns?].

Immorality? YES! Little kids need to learn what modesty is at an early age, for the things they do can be a potential life hazard, and little girls especially must know what a sense of modesty is, and little boys need to know their limits in this.

Blasphemy? YES! A Torah God-Fearing home must include a reverence for God - they mock because they think it is silly, but a sense of God IS THE HOME! It is the younger ages that fall victim to this behavior and it is the easiest age to indoctrinate.

Idolatry?YES! True truth must be taught to empower the youth and through ways of example. This is a way to teach the children who the parents are and the parents relationship with God. Not only this but some things are only answerable by God to the ears of a little one, thus we need to bring God into the picture. A personal example of this I see with my kids. We had a death in the family, and children want their deceased back. I told them that Hashem took the deceased, and that we should pray for Messiah and the promise of return of the dead. Not only is this a pillar of faith in the Rambam, but it is a huge test of our faith, and one that can only come from God. By teaching them this, they now at an [unfortunately due to the circumstance] early age pray to the true God and acknowledge his providence. Perhaps it need not be as dramatic for all, but there is always room for God, surprisingly in sometimes the most ways to a young child.

Limb of a live animal? YES! They eat everything that they shouldn't! Point taken! [also instill refinement; the essence of chinuch]

Courts of Law?YES! This is the point, the parent is always a judge, and as kabalah states this is the seat of your wisdom, and with wisdom we must apply it to render true judgment in the world. Kid law  is special because they see things not as we do. They speak their own language in how they see things, and to see their point of view, you must think outside of the box, open your mind, and be ultra-creative! When you can understand their complaints and hurt feelings, or even general bad attitude, there is always a perfect reason why - they aren't evil by nature! They have little yetzers, but they are innocent and pure. With a little bit of investigation you will see their justification and then you are able to guide the situation in a fair and just way. They will appreciate your truth and growth is then encouraged, not to leave out their love - the most important!

So here you have it - 7 Laws of Noah for children. Is this a comprehensive system? Is there more?

There is always more, as even the Noahide Laws expand to 30 laws in the days of the Messiah, or some say the equivalent is all 613, or you can go as a Ger and say the 7 are just a taste to get one interested in taking on more. I see these answers as all truth, and all support raising kids in real time.

In closing, the 7 Laws certainly won't hurt as a focus of how one could start to see the divine way of raising kids in Torah Law. The 7 Laws might just be a start to something greater, but I think we can all see that the 7 Laws compose a sound justice system that work not only for the distant ones to come into Torah, but for the newbies to Earth to come into Humanity. At an early age, I can tell you from experience, kids know the 7 Laws when they are confronted with them - and it works.

Learn the 7 Laws, make them fun and creative, and remember we aren't here to execute perpetrators; rather the goal is to turn judgment into mercy, and what better way to practice than with our youth. If anyone deserves mercy and a taste of God it is our youth. In fact in this regard, is there really a better way to save our planet? Youth are everything; so is Torah. Sounds like a great zivuug!

The Torah loves chinuch - and maybe this is just another way we are commanded to prepare a light to the nations, by being heroes of light to our kids.


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