Sunday, August 5, 2012

Is My Seven-year-old Off the Derech?

David has known about the sofer (scribe) for a long time. More recently he learned the word kofer, as in the pitch that Noah spread on the ark so that water would not leak in. Tonight we were going over Parshas Va'eschanan--last week was busy--and I asked him who we go to if we need a mezuzah or tefilin. He responded that we go to a kofer. I'm not sure if he he really got confused between the two rhyming words, or if he was acting silly. But all I could think is that if someone asks him from whom do we get our mezuzos and tefilin, he might respond from a kofer. Kofer also means a heretic. Well of course the public school family obtains their mezuzos and tefilin from a kofer.
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But more seriously, my heart skipped a beat in the car today. David has asked me a number of times why there is still a mosque on Har Habayis and why don't we rebuild the Beis Hamikdash in its place. (Yes, I know it's not actually a mosque but rather a shrine.) I don't have a good answer for him and I generally mumble something about Jews being afraid to instigate a war and then I veer off  to a topic as unrelated as possible.
Today he once again asked me and I responded with my well rehearsed mumble. But before I could get him onto another train of thought he interrupted me and blurted out that he doesn't think all the stories about Moshe Rabbeinu are true. Huh? Where did this come from? We had just picked him up from his tutor. Is she a koferes and poisening his mind? I asked him why he would say such a thing. He said that if we are afraid to destroy the mosque because it might spark a war then this means we don't believe the veracity of all the stories that describe how Hashem helped the Jews defeat their enemies in battle.
In the good old days the melamed would give him a smack on the head and that would be the end of it.* How in the heck am I supposed to respond?
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The stock character of the cruel melamed is well attested in Jewish literature (e.g., Solomon Maimon's autobiography), although my professor once questioned the accuracy of this portrayal as a stereotype. I can only note that my grandfather, in the course of supplying me with an oral family history, described the cruelty he witnessed in his Warsaw heder. He referred to the melamdim as murderers. He also related that after questioning the midrash about Yaakov trying to get out of Rivka's woom when she passed a yeshivah, he was subjected to a torturous ear pull (which he blamed for his hearing loss?).
My grandfather--David's namesake--turned out more than ok. Hopefully David will live up to his example.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

When I Get Older I Want to Be . . .

The other day Kinneret asked Ora what she wants to be when she gets older. She responded . . . a cat.
David wants to be a secret agent or have an ice cream truck.
God help me with both of them.
(On the way to shul this morning David asked me what I wanted to be when I was his age. I know that my elementary school yearbook states I wanted to be a doctor or author, but I couldn't remember what I wanted to be when I was in third grade.)