Sunday, December 02, 2012

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Mazal Tov

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     There is a beautiful Chassidic tradition for a boy’s first day of school. When he turns three years old he is ready to begin his formal Torah education. His father carries him to and from the classroom with his tallis (prayer shawl) draped over the boy’s head so the boy cannot look around. The first day he goes to learn Torah is such a holy time for the child that we do not want him to even see any tumah (spiritually unclean things).

     What we see affects us… we absorb it. There is a saying that the eyes are windows to the soul. This is why we are warned not to look an evil person in the face. A small, innocent child is much more sensitive than an adult, and we want his first day of Torah study to be a holy day, a day filled only with purity that will lead to a life overflowing with the holiness that learning Torah will give him. 

     When the boy arrives at his new school his rebbe begins to teach him the aleph bet. After the boy has made some progress the rebbe puts a drop of honey on one of the letters on the page. The child touches the letter with his finger, and then tastes the sweetness of the honey, associating the sweetness with the Hebrew letter. The boy then stands up, and hands out cake to the other children in the class just like a Chassidic rebbe hands out cake to his Chassidim on special occasions. Indeed, it is a special day in a Jewish boy’s life.

     This custom is really a huge prayer... a prayer that the child learns to love the ways of Torah, and never strays from them, not even for a moment, not even a glance away.

    And when we protect them, and guide them, and treat them like the treasures that they are, they grow….

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And they grow….

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And they grow….

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