My friend told me a story he recently read.
Somebody went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Bnei Brak with an important question, regarding his yeshiva. He explained to the Rav that it was a yeshiva in Beit Shemesh. The Rav stopped him and asked, “Which Beit Shemesh? Is it in Chutz L’Aretz (outside of Israel)?” A bit confused by the question, this person answered, “The one near Yerushaliyim . . .” After the Rav nodded his head, the person then asked his question, received his answer, and left.
However, he was bothered by what happened. Rav Kanievsky is regarded as one of the biggest Talmidei Chochomim we have. He receives questions from all over the world. How is it possible that he did not know where Beit Shemesh is? Everybody who lives in Israel knows where it is!
He was bothered by it so much, that he wrote Rav Kanievsky a letter asking him how he didn’t know where Beit Shemesh was. He received a reply, that in Yermiyahu (Jerimiah), there is mention of a Beit Shemesh in Egypt.
Simply put: Rav Kanievsky was making a joke, and this person didn’t have the knowledge to “get it.” J
“He does not hearken to our voice” (Devarim 21:20).
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 71a) teaches that if one of the parents of a ben sorer u’moreh (a rebellious son, who is so bad, he can be tried and executed), is deaf, the child cannot be found guilty and killed.
Yet, this is in contradiction to the pasuk above. The pasuk is speaking about the child being “deaf,” yet the Gemara is speaking of one (or both) of the parents' being deaf!
Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein writes that when a person reprimands someone else, his words can have an effect only if he hears what his mouth is saying . . . or simply put: he practices what he preaches. However, if the parent is “deaf” and doesn’t hear his own words, then there is no question, that there is a greater chance that his son will eventually become “deaf” as well.
As a proof, Rav Zilberstein brings in a pasuk that explains what happens after such an execution should take place, “And you shall remove the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear and they shall fear.” Once you “remove evil from your midst,” being yourself, then others “shall hear and they shall fear,” and follow your words of reproof.
Given that we don’t live in the center of the country, most boys go to yeshiva, shortly after their bar mitzvah, out of town. My wife and I were once discussing this and she asked me if I see differences in them from before they left and when they come back during their breaks. I gave it thought and I kept my eyes open. I realized that most of the boys, even if they are learning really well in eighth grade, two years later, tend to follow their father’s footsteps. Those fathers who are strong in growth tend to have sons who are like them. Those who are the opposite . . . well . . . it’s unfortunate. I know of a family who’s full of very intelligent boys. All like their father. They can learn very well and really have their heads on their shoulders. However, the father spends a lot of time out of the shul, when he’s supposed to be in. And the children seem to follow that pattern eventually.
The first step in raising children as Bnei Torah, is to try your best to be one yourself. If you tell them to grow in Torah and Mitzvos, when you are not, you can’t even leave the first level of proper parenting.
With that in mind, may we all be successful with ourselves, so we can be successful with our children.
Have a great Shabbos!