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Using Literature to Build Jewish Values in Your Children

Let's go "Beyond the Book" with Kind Little Rivka.

Ages 2-5

One of the books in "The Little Greats" series is "Kind Little Rivka" (Rebecca). Eliezer, the servant of Abraham is trusted to seek a wife for Yitzchak (Isaac). The entire destiny of the Jewish people was relying on a union between Yitzchak and a woman from Avraham's (Abraham's) family who possessed the proper spiritual qualities to establish a holy nation. Arriving at a well, Eliezer devised a test to help himself. He prayed to the Almighty that he succeed in his mission. Since Abraham was renowned for his outstanding and unusual kindness to strangers, Eliezer wished to find the same quality of kindness in the prospective bride. To pass the test, the right girl would have to provide him with a drink of water and offer to draw water for his camels.

To go beyond the book with Little Rivka takes us to levels of "kindness awareness" never before explored with a young child. It is one thing to give a man a drink, but satisfying the thirst of the huge animals required tremendous physical effort. "Back and forth, back and forth went Rivka, filling and spilling, pulling, and pouring. She did not stop until all the thirsty camels had had enough to drink." We do many kind acts, that our children never know about - we write checks to the local charities and may even give a loan to someone who has hit hard times. But these are our own opportunities to be "kind." They don't allow the opportunity for our children to practice "goodness and kindness" in this manner. And practice it they must! For just like practicing the piano or playing baseball, refines skills, so too, does the practicing of being kind.

A woman once came to a Rabbi and complained that people did not think she was nice. It did not come easily for her, because she felt it was not her basic nature to be very caring. He did not advise her to change her basic nature, but rather he told her "Act nice and you'll be nice!"

I remember walking past a man sitting on the street selling pencils. My Mother gave me a nickel to put in his cup, and told me not to take a pencil. I could not see why I shouldn't take one; after all didn't I buy it! Yes and no-for the higher level of my giving was not to take-just to give! We must orchestrate opportunities for children to act kindly to those less fortunate.

Let them make the call to Children's Hospital or other telethons and make the pledge of money or go to a used clothes store with clothes they no longer wear. Help them call an old age home and see if they want a young friend to visit, or have a garage sale with all proceeds going to charity and actually take it to the organization personally. They can even help a mother with a large family get the children ready for bedtime.

The main thing is to DO acts of goodness and kindness and not just think about them. We are a people of action-we must raise children who view themselves as participants and not spectators in this world.

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