Parents and Children

A Selection from my Favorite Jewish Sources
Rabbi Mordechai Levin

Tanakh, Genesis 1:28
Then God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

Shemot Rabbah 46:5
He who brings up a child is called “Father,” not he who merely begot him.

Talmud, Yevamot 62b
When a man guides his sons and daughters in the right path, Scripture says of him, “And you shall know that your tent is in peace” (Job 5:24).

Sifrei, Devarim 46
“And you shall teach them to your children by speaking of them” (Deuteronomy 11:19). From this verse, the sages inferred that once an infant begins to speak, the father should speak to him in the holy tongue (Hebrew) and teach him Torah.

Talmud, Shabbat 10b
Rav said: A man should not single out one of his sons for special treatment, for because of two extra coins’ worth of silk, the one thing Jacob gave to Joseph and not to his other sons (Genesis 37), Joseph’s brothers grew jealous of him, and the consequences grew until our forebears had to go down into Egypt.

Semahot 2:4-5
A man should not threaten a child even with as little a thing as boxing his ears. He should punish him at once or say nothing. It happened in Bene Berak that a child broke a flask on the Sabbath, and his father threatened to box his ears. The child, terrorized by his father, went off and drowned himself in a cistern.

Shemot Rabbah 1:1
When a man refrains from chastising his son, the son will fall into evil ways, so that in the end the father will come to hate his son.
Thus it happened with Ishmael, whom his father loved so much that he did not chastise him (Genesis 21); then, when Ishmael fell into evil ways, Abraham came to hate him so much that he cast him out empty-handed from his house.
The same applies to “Now Isaac loved Esau” (Gen. 25:28); Esau fell into evil ways, because Isaac did not chastise him.
It was likewise with David, who did not rebuke his son Absalom or chastise him (II Samuel 13), so that he fell into evil ways, sought to slay his father, and caused him sorrows without end (II Samuel 15).

Talmud, Sukkah 56b
A child’s talk in the marketplace is his father’s talk or his mother’s.

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Rabbi Levin is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Munster, IN. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly. In 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City for his years of dedicated service to the Conservative movement and the Jewish community...Full bio