Parshas Kedoshim
Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27

Training Children
By Returning The Honor Of Shabbos And Restoring Shabbos

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated by the family of Akiva G. Belk in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Channah Sakash Belk, may she rest in peace.\

In our lives Hashem allows many challenges. Sometimes the challenges seem insurmountable like a great fourteener, a 14,000 foot high mountain. Yet every mountain has a trail blazed to the top that can be conquered by steady, faithful diligence. In our parsha this week we are considering the responsibility of honoring one's parents. Hashem places this mitzvah alongside that of Shabbos. "A man - you shall fear his mother and father and keep my Shabbos, I am Hashem, your G-d." Leviticus 19:3 This poses an interesting question. Why does Hashem do this? Why is Shabbos placed alongside honoring one's mother and father?

There are many angles to this.

First, it is to offer parents guidance in the proper way of training children. Children observe the manner in which a parent observes Shabbos. If the parent acts very religious to those within the Jewish community but lives differently in the privacy of their family home, the children learn deception instead of honor. From this type of example their children learn how to deceive... how to mislead... how to lie... This is very dangerous!!

Second, if a parent downplays the separation of Shabbos from the other six days of the week, in actuality the parent is teaching the children that complete honor of Shabbos as taught in the Torah is not required. As a result, the children learn the definition of honor from their parent's example. In return, unfortunately, the children will honor their parents in the same fashion the parents honor Shabbos. Such weak-kneed, shallow observance of Shabbos makes a very strong impression upon our children just as diligent, careful observance of Shabbos does.

Third, parents that expect their children to honor them {the parents}, more than the Shabbos are teaching their children to question authority, G-d's authority, the Torah's authority, rabbinic authority, parental authority and authority in general. They are teaching their children that what G-d says can be redefined to mean something else even though that is untrue. Children learn to redefine authority through their parents' example.

Fourth, parents that observe a corrupted form of Shabbos or Torah observance are only fooling themselves. I am specifically referring to Jewish parents that teach their children Shabbos is now observed on Sunday or the Torah mitzvah of Shabbos has been done away with or 'I don't believe in G-d so I don't believe in the Torah and I don't believe in Shabbos, etc'... or 'I worship G-d in my own way!' There are many variations of stumbling blocks that parents teach their children, G-d forbid. This type of example can result in painful isolation.

Hashem states, "You shall be holy, for I, Hashem, your G-d am Holy." Leviticus 19:2 The above attitudes like "I worship G-d in my own way" or "I don't believe in G-d" are certainly not in compliance with what G-d requires.

When children grow up they eventually learn the other side of the story. They learn that they are Jewish. They learn the truth. Hashem draws them through the eternal flame to the Torah! Hashem draws them to the truth.

The parent has taught this child to be an independent thinker. The parent has taught this child to be an individual! The parent has taught this child to stand alone... to stand against odds... to endure pain... to ignore isolation... to be a free thinker... It should not be such a surprise to the parent when their child becomes a Baal Teshuvah, a Jew that has returned to Torah Judaism.

It is a complete mistake on the parents' part to assume, to believe that their children will do what they say, when their actions {the actions of the parent} teach an entirely different lesson. Actions do speak very loud! As parents we can introduce life and happiness into our children's lives. We can teach them how to honor us by our example of {us as parents} honoring the Shabbos.

On the other hand, through our lack of proper example, through our wrongful example, we can create a real series of problems for them. We can scatter stumbling blocks throughout their lives that make honoring Shabbos and honoring parents very difficult. In other words, we can through our improper example create a minefield of unnecessary challenges and problems for our children through the lessons we teach them, G-d forbid!! We can plant and cultivate controversy in their lives, G-d forbid!

Our children are not released from Torah observance, from honoring Shabbos or from honoring parents just because of our deceptive actions, or our reduced observances, or our denial of G-d {G-d forbid!} or our independence, or whatever. WE NEED TO CONSIDER WHAT WE ARE DOING TO OUR CHILDREN!!

Then one wonders why their children do not show proper honor.

Now an additional angle to this is, according to Rashi, "Keeping the Sabbath is placed adjacent to the fear of (your) father {and mother} (in order) to tell (you): even though I warned you regarding the fear of {one's} father {and mother}, if he {she} should say to you: 'Violate the Sabbath,' you must not listen to him - and so in regard to all the other mitzvos."

Parents, be very careful what you teach your children. The results can be devastating!

I know:
...a bubbe {Jewish grandmother}, who brags about giving her grandsons condoms. What do you suppose she is teaching them...?

...a Jewish grandfather {not a zayde} who argues with his observant son about giving the children non kosher candy or taking them to a non kosher greasy spoon.

...a Jewish mother who demands that her daughter work in the family business on Shabbos. It is no wonder that the grandson has little or no problem operating his non Kosher restaurants on Shabbos.

...a Jewish father who works on Shabbos. His children and grandchildren have mega problems... divorce... child obedience issues... security issues, etc..

Stories Of Shuvah
After being raised as a Christian / Messianic and after raising my children to believe the same, I returned to Judaism. My first marriage was to a non Jew. Why then should I be surprised that my oldest son married a non Jew in a Christian Church on Shabbos during the first days of the omer? Why should I be surprised that my father and siblings did not consult with me when my mother died, may she rest in peace? Why should I be surprised that my mother was buried on Shabbos? Why should I be surprised that my father demanded that I violate Shabbos saying, "G-d will forgive you for violating Shabbos." Obviously I did not attend Momma's funeral.

Most mail that we receive from Christians / Messianics exhibits great shallowness. It is ironic that they espouse a religion supposedly so full of love yet in letters they call us names, accused us of hatred and threatened us, G-d forbid. I want our readers to know the other side to the picture. This is what we receive in response to hundreds of our articles stating facts and proofs on JewishPath. We have yet to receive one scripture based challenge, one theological argument, one proof disputing anything that we have said on our website. The tactics of Messianics are very shallow, and people who are deceived by them are very unknowledgeable in Torah, Hebrew and the New Testament.

This type of tragedy that happens when honoring Shabbos breaks down in the family. G-d forbis it expands to future generations. As the breakdown expands, future generations become so assimilated that they become such easy pickings for Messianics, G-d forbid. Many Jews like my great grandparents let their observance go when they came to America from Europe. After a few generations no one observes Judaism, G-d forbid! Other religions creep in, G-d forbid! No one is observant, G-d forbid! It seems like Judaism has totally disappeared. Then out of nowhere someone returns thank G-d!

Dear reader, holy reader, there are many stories similar to mine. You may be a Jew who is one, two or even more generations removed from Torah observance. It may seem like the Torah light is flickering and about to go out when you read this parsha study. It is NEVER too late to return! It is NOT too late to do shuvah! Many Jews who are children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren from what were once observant Jewish families are rediscovering Judaism.

Holy reader, after sixty-five years of marriage to a non Jew, my mother, may she rest in peace, separated from my father. After many years as a Messianic, my mother began a rediscovery period a few years before her death. This is not to say that Momma gave up all of her beliefs as a Messianic yet it is to say that Momma took very definite steps to rediscover Judaism. We studied Torah together when she came to live with us. We observed Shabbos together. Later when she moved into her own place, we studied together by phone and fax. When she became deathly ill, lying in the intensive care unit, she insisted that the nurses tape copies of the Tehillim that I faxed her throughout the day around her bed. All the members of the family saw these Tehillim and understood it was a statement of how Mother believed. Thank G-d Mother recovered. Yet she required care and as a result could no longer live by herself. Momma died later that year.

Holy reader, I am not implying that my mother made a full return to Torah observance. I am only saying she, like so many, took some baby steps to learn about and observe some Judaism, after the blessed age of eighty. If you find yourself in a similar position you MUST UNDERSTAND that even little baby steps can be very large steps in the eyes of Hashem. One can never underestimate the power of a few steps of shuvah.

Dear reader, what would have happened had I died, G-d forbid, a short time after receiving the revelation of Shabbos? That revelation set my feet on the path of Torah observance. However if I had died, no one would have known that I would shortly have resigned my Messianic congregation, resigned my position as member of the executive board over 80 missionary congregations, eliminated two thirds of my private business which was printing missionary outreach material to Jews, terminated the publication of Daily Blessings {a Messianic magazine I founded and published}, cancelled my Messianic radio programs in cities throughout the USA, forfeited a $5,000.00 deposit for a new Messianic television program, etc...

No one would have known at the time that years later Hashem would guide me along with a few other observant Jews to establish JewishPath. No one would have known that JewishPath would become an internet learning center for thousands of students each week.

Dear reader, only Hashem knows our hearts. Only Hashem knows the results of a few small steps of shuvah. Only Hashem knows where those few baby steps may lead.

Even though you may believe something other than Judaism, even though grandparents or parents may have introduced this conflict into your life, YOU ARE NOT RELEASED FROM YOUR INDIVIDUAL TORAH OBSERVANCE! Dear reader, every Jew is responsible to G-d for their own actions regardless of the conflicts imposed upon them from their families.

The first step is to restore true Shabbos observance! Take a few baby steps, make an attempt! Restore the Shabbos observance that your grandparents or parents robbed from you! Restore the Shabbos experience in its fullness. Return to higher ground! Restore the Holy Honor of Shabbos in your life. Make an effort to "Restore Shabbos!"

When I rediscovered Shabbos the storms surrounding my life did not immediately clear up. In fact the storms became much greater. Yet within these mighty storms was a day of tranquility, a day of rest, a day set aside from all the other days each week.

Years of non Jewish learning muddies the waters. Much sorting out has to be done. It take weeks, months, years and possibly a lifetime to work through all the conflicts! Yet for the Jew who reestablishes Shabbos observance there is a break in the conflict! There is a path to follow!

Now I look back with understanding and with clarity. I clung to the only path that was revealed to me. I clung to Shabbos. That path, the revelation of Shabbos which was followed by Shabbos observance, eventually led me out of mighty storms to Torah observance.

Now you can follow the trail that I have blazed to the summit of observance... JewishPath has dozens of discussions for conflicted Jews that carefully explain how and why to release other religious beliefs and begin the pilgrimage back to Jewish observance.

Not only is it time to be a proper example for our children, but it is time to reclaim the honor intended for Shabbos. Do not be pressured by G-dless relatives!

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk
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