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Mar 27, 2011

My 4 Year Old Made me think about Shabbos

On Thursday my 4 year old son brought home a note from gan that he was going to be "Abba shel Shabbat" on Friday. That means he would have to bring treats for x number of kids in the gan, along with a halacha about Shabbos that he would have to say.

My experience with telling the little kids a halahca or dvar torah for an event at school already told me that there is no way he would remember whatever I would say, but I still had to try.

So, I tried to think of something interesting, something that the kid the previous week probably did not say. As I was coming up with ideas, I noticed that everything I was thinking of was dont do this, or dont do that.

I thought to myself, is this really all shabbos is about? A bunch of things we cannot do? He probably would not notice now, but I decided I would try to think of something positive, and easy as he is only 4, rather than tell him a negative halacha. Let him remember something positive about Shabbos!

I finally came up with the mitzva to enjoy shabbos, to have oneg, to have a special food or candy on Shabbos. He liked that, and I said ti a few times, and made him repeat it a couple of times.

Of course it was futile, as the only thing he could remember on Friday, and what he actually said in gan, was that it is prohibited to drive a car on Shabbos. he probably remembered it because the kid the week before had probably said it. or maybe the 10 kids before him had said it. I dont know.

Despite that, is that really what Shabbos is about to me? To us? For the most part? Just a day with a bunch of things we cannot do, where it is hard to find something positive to say? And maybe a good afternoon nap?

Think to yourself for a moment, and check yourself, when you think about saying something about Shabbos, are the first five things positive or negative rules?

My results are kind of sad to think about..


  1. No - top 5 Shabbos list for kids 1)we don't do creative work - OK, that's framed as a negative, but really it's a positive, 2)we wear our best clothes, 3)we eat yummy food 4) we spend time as a family 5) we see our friends - sounds great, no?

  2. You can also look at the negatives in a positive light - instead of "I can't" you can go for the "I don't have to." As in, 1) I don't have to go to work, 2) You don't have to go to school, 3) I don't have to wake up early in the morning, 4) I have time to just relax and 5) to quote Mrs. Belogski, we eat yummy food!

    Don't be sad, life is sweet :)

  3. It's true, most kids grow up being taught Shabbos, in fact Judaism, is all about things we cannot do, eat, see, wear, go, etc. On the other hand, a set of rules to live by is what gives us the special life that shomrai mitzvos live - purity, family, honesty, etc. It's an instruction manual of a certain kind of life.

    Let's say it wasn't about being aussur assur assur, and that you could go, do, eat, etc. whatever you want. Fine, but then you wouldn't have that life.

    Have you ever bought furniture from Ikea? It comes with very specific instructions to follow step by step. Do you have HAVE to follow them? No, you don't. You can do whatever you want. But it won't come out the way they designed it. It'll come out something else.

    Hashem thinks Shabbos is a good thing for us to have in our life, so he commands us to keep it. It has rules, lots of them, on how to do it. If you don't follow the rules, you won't have Shabbos.

    And so it is with other aspects of a Torah life. The rules are there in order to tell you how to to have one. Don't want to follow the rules, then you won't have a Jewish life.

    If that's not what you're looking for, then the rules aren't going to keep you in.


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