Jan 29, 2014

"The Naomi Principle"

Rabbi Dr. Lob wrote a nice piece in Mishpacha called "The Naomi Principle."  He heard the idea from R' Nosson Wachtfogel z'l.  It goes like this:

If you look at the dialogue between Rus and her mother-in-law Naomi when Naomi urges her to go back to her people, Rus says the famous words, "Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people are my people and your G-d is my G-d. 

Rus doesn't say, I commit to Judaism because the concepts are deep and beautiful, because Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim and the mitzvos are so meaningful and I love them.  R' Wachtfogel learned from this: "The primary mission of parenting is to create the kind of relationship with each child that will naturally inspire within him/her the desire to proclaim, "I want to be like you."

Lob goes on to ask, what does "like you" mean? What does your child see when he or she looks at you? Are you living the Judaism you want your child to live?

A few weeks later, the editor of Family First magazine (supplement to Mishpacha) wrote a story that illustrated the point.  Three boys were accepted into an excellent yeshiva but although they were accepted, they were not great kids and they were expelled.  They switched to a yeshiva that wasn't as excellent and they were expelled from there too.  The only yeshiva left for them was a yeshiva for problem kids.  Even there, two of the boys did not last more than a few months while a third kept out of trouble. 

When the third boy was asked why he didn't continue downward with his friends he said, "I couldn't do that to my father.  Up until this point, I let my yetzer hara get the better of me, but I love my father and I couldn't have him see me end up on the street."  Today his friends are not religious while he is.

So I know, it's not quite the same.  Loving his father and not wanting to hurt him anymore is not identical to identifying with his father's way of life, but it's close.

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