A five-year-old complains why G-d appeared to Abraham but not to him. He receives a profound spiritual answer at his level of understanding, which teaches us not to shy away from spiritual teachings even to young children.
• In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, VaYeira, G-d appears to Abraham, which is not surprising given Abraham’s stature.
• But this did not dawn on one very bright 5-year-old (destined to become the great 5th Rebbe of Lubavitch, the Rebbe Sholem Ber). Having learned in Cheder that week of Abraham’s privileged audience with G-d, he ran home to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, in tears, complaining bitterly that it was unfair of G-d to appear to Abraham and not to him.
• Grandfather patiently explains that when a Jew at the age of 99 years of age circumcises himself, he deserves that G-d appear to him. The child is mollified. He understands.
• True, we are speaking about an exceptional child. But we can learn from this that trying to explain life to young inquisitive children, does mean that we need to engage in simplistic child-speak. It is important to acquaint our children with spiritual teachings at a tender age. Not necessarily in depth, but sufficiently for them to understand that there is more to life than toys and i-phones. It also demonstrates that parents have a strong belief in the importance of spiritual principles of life.
• In a sense we are all children, and therefore understanding spiritual teachings of Judaism, even at a simple level, provides us with a view beyond the mundane and the ordinary.
• How high do you extend your soul?