Be Thankful For Your Children

Principle 12 for Being an Inspiring Parent

The twelfth video talks about the power of simply being thankful for your children and appreciating what a blessing it is to be able to bring new life into this world.

How to be an inspiring parent: Rule 12. Look at the story of Jacob and his first four children. They were born to him by Leah. Number one, Reuven. Number two, Shimon. Number three, Levi. Number Four, Yehudah.

If you read the Torah carefully you will see, especially in the penultimate chapter of Bereishit, in the deathbed scene where Jacob, instead of blessing his eldest three sons, almost seems to curse them. His relationship with all three of them broke down. Reuven, b'chori atah... v'pachaz kamayim: you are completely unstable. (Genesis 49:3-4) You'll never succeed. Simeon and Levi, you are violent. Somehow, his relationship with them failed. But with Yehudah, it didn't fail. Now, what was going on here?

If you look very carefully at the sequence of naming, you will see that it is Leah who names her children. Reuven because "See! There's a son, God. My husband will see my son and he'll love me". (Genesis 29:32) Shimon, "God is listening to me. Maybe my husband will now listen to me". Levi, "God is accompanying me. Maybe my husband will now accompany me". Somehow, those three first children were caught up in the tension between Yaacov and Leah, and that tension seems to have stayed with them throughout their lives.

When it came to Yehudah, Leah had a completely different attitude. She didn't even mention / think of her relationship with Yaacov and the tensions within the family. She said something very simple, "Hapa'am odeh et-Hashem." [meaning] "This time I thank God." That's all. She didn't ask or expect anything from the child. She didn't expect anything to happen as a result of the child. All she did was she was thankful. "Hapa'am odeh et-Hashem." This time I will thank God. Now, listen to what happens to Yehudah.

Yehudah became the hero of the whole Joseph story when he proved that, from becoming a child who was capable of selling his brother as a slave, becomes the hero when he says to Joseph: I want to stay a slave so that my brother Benjamin can go free.

Yehudah who became the ancestor of Israel's Kings. Yehudah will be the ancestor of Moshiach. Yehudah, whose name we bear because we are all called Yehudim.

That is how to have a good relationship with your child. To look at your child, even on the days when you are most angry or disappointed, and allow a smile to come on your face and say: "Hapa'am odeh et-Hashem." Thank You, God, for giving me this child. Thank You for the gift, the greatest gift of all.

Because every child is testimony to the greatest miracle you and I will ever see, the love that brings new life into the world. Be thankful for your children, don't expect or demand anything more, and they will become Yehudim and Yehudiot. They will become Jews of whom you will be proud.

This video series, Inspired Parenting, consists of thirteen short videos of Rabbi Sacks discussing some of the ways we can be inspiring parents and really kindle the flame of Torah in our children.

We hope you will learn, as Rabbi Sacks did, from exploring these ideas.