Chinuch For Proper Davening
By Rabbi Yeshaya Weber
be concerned about a child who davens fluently? * How can we direct children
toward a deeper appreciation of davening? * The final article in the series
about educating children to daven.
the previous article we described the child who has difficulty davening from
a siddur as a child who thirsts for feeling and excitement in
general, and in t’filla in particular. By saying this, we are not
merely trying to present a positive outlook to a negative situation; the fact is
that such a child sincerely yearns for spirituality, and that is why it is hard
for him to daven by rote.
a strong parallel between a child who davens and simple Jews. In the
Rebbe Rayatz’s memoirs, we find several stories about simple Jews who said Tehillim
simply and wholeheartedly, but with great difficulty. These people did not know
how to speak or learn in Lashon HaKodesh; they certainly didn’t have an
easy time reading the language of Tanach.
this reason, when they read Tehillim they would often read incorrectly,
mixing up the letters and distorting the meaning of what they were saying,
without even realizing it. It is regarding people such as these that the verse
"v’dilugo alai ahava" (his omission is beloved to Me)
applies. "The omission of these people," says Hashem, as quoted in the
Midrash, "is beloved to Me." Even if they read the word ‘v’ahavta’
(and you shall love) as ‘v’oyavta’ (and you shall hate),
since it comes from simple and wholehearted people, it is beloved to Me, says
simple people knew how to daven! The secret of t’filla was
revealed to them, due to their thirst to approach G-d. Their yearning to bond
with G-d was so strong that no obstacle could stand in the way of their desire
and block the channels they had opened towards G-d.
a person desires a connection with Hashem with all his heart, and he creates
this connection, he is guaranteed that it will be a reciprocal relationship.
Hashem accepts every prayer and request, and it makes no difference how it is
expressed and with which words it is articulated. Hashem discerns the whispers
of the heart and knows what a person needs and what he means when he prays.
who have a hard time davening, for whatever reason, can be defined as anashim
p’shutim. Why don’t we use the Baal Shem Tov’s approach towards simple
Jews, whom he considered so precious, and apply it towards our children? Since
our subject is t’filla, how about inspiring them to t’filla at
their own pace, in their own way? Lack of focus, lack of concentration, problems
listening – all these difficulties, with all the professional evaluations
behind them, are nothing in comparison to these children’s warm Jewish
contrast to these children whose chinuch should focus on the emotions
rather than on the technical details of davening, are those children with
whom we are generally satisfied. This second category of children consists of
those who learn well, read fluently, can concentrate, and who acquire skills
quickly. They don’t have to break their teeth in order to get a task done.
Their davening is clear and articulate. Does this mean we can relax
because their davening is perfect? Can we leave them alone when it comes
to t’filla because they’ve mastered it? Obviously not! We must
continue to keep after them and follow their progress in t’filla. It’s
vital that we direct them toward a deeper appreciation of davening.
is this done?
have to open a dialogue, not necessarily within the formal learning framework.
The teacher can do this even during recess, while on a trip, or just "by
the way" during a free moment. So too, the parent, during moments of
closeness with a child, should ask whether there was a particular paragraph he
thought about more today during davening, what paragraph was it, and what
led him to give it more attention? Was it because of something that happened?
Did a particular word stand out for him?
like these can begin at ages 8-9, and they enable a child to sense the inner
flavor of davening and to feel and understand it in a deeper way.
a practical level: In order to familiarize a child with the language of the siddur,
he must learn the meaning of the words and understand the structure of the
sentences and their significance. He must be stimulated to ask questions, and
needs to be told when and why to stand, and why he may not talk during davening.
This has to be done wisely, not in a dry and boring manner, but with stories
from daily life which will enable a child to understand on an emotional level
what we want him to adopt in practice. This way it will be internalized better
and more deeply.
for t’filla and the laws of t’filla are intertwined. When a
child internalizes the content and significance of t’filla, he will
understand why the halacha says to stand, and why it is forbidden to
talk. He will act in accordance with halacha not because he is forced to,
but because he has an appreciation and awe of davening. He will sense the
holiness of t’filla.
Rebbe pointed out many times and stressed that it is important to publicize
events that depict the conduct of the Rebbe Rayatz as a young boy, and the type
of chinuch he received. This is so we will learn how to educate. One can
ask: How will this inspire us to want to behave like the Rebbeim and to even
anticipate similar results? Do we think we are on the same holy level as the
Rebbeim? Obviously, that isn’t true!
point is that even if we aren’t on that level, when it comes to chinuch, we
must strive ever higher. The directive tells us to try this approach in chinuch.
We are guaranteed success, each according to his level and effort, with the ko’ach
of the Rebbeim.
remember a farbrengen from my younger years in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in
Montreal, in which they told of the difficulties in chinuch in Soviet
Russia. The avreichim farbrenged amongst themselves and shared
what was on their minds. One said: "How can I educate my children in
a way that requires them to be on a higher level? I’d be a fraud, because I
know the truth of who and what I am."
friend replied: "You are who you are, but you still have to talk
differently to your children. You must educate them properly without thinking of
your own situation. In the future, your children will bring you back in teshuva!"
conclude, t’filla has a soul which we mustn’t ignore or forget. One
can implant the soul of t’filla within every single child and develop
it. Reading from a siddur is the practical action making t’filla
complete, and according to halacha, it is of primary importance, since we
live in the world of action.
can fax their questions to (Eretz Yisroel) 03-960-7289