Explaining Judaism to a Child
Children ask questions. That is how God created them. The interaction that is generated by the questions children ask is a key component in the education of the child (- adults can learn a lot form these interactions too).
So what do you do when a child asks you: “how can I know that we are right? If I would have been born into a family of a different faith, I will probably believe as they do. Does the fact that I happen to have been born into Judaism make it right?”
How do you explain the foundations of Judaism to the child?
You always have the option of pointing the child to books like the Kuzari or the books of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, and encourage him or her to read them. However, in most cases, the child is capable of asking the questions before he or she is capable of understanding these books.
You could point to the experiences of Judaism; the sanctity of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13), answered prayers and connecting to God through the observances of Judaism, but for some children, this answer will not work. Some children will continue to press you, they will ask: “don’t the members of other religions also claim to encounter deep spiritual experiences in the context of their respective faiths? Do I have to taste the experiences of every faith and compare them to each other before I can be confident that we have the truth?”
Here is one way of presenting Judaism to a child:
“You know my dear how much I love you. You can surely recognize that all parents love their children. The love that parents have towards children is one of the most powerful forces that exist on this planet. It wouldn’t make sense to assume that a nation of parents will knowingly teach their children to live and die for a lie. Perhaps one or two crazy people out of a million may intentionally mislead their children, but we cannot believe that a nation of parents would deliberately deceive their children.
We can therefore be confident that Christian parents and Moslem parents are telling their children the truth. And they are. The Christian parent tells his or her child that 2000 years ago some men came to our country and taught us a teaching that we accepted and believed. And this is indeed true. 2000 years ago the apostles of Christianity came to the world and delivered their message, and by and large, people accepted their message.
The Moslem parent is telling his or her child the absolute truth. About 1500 years ago a man came out of the desert and taught us a teaching and we accepted that teaching. This is indeed absolutely true. 1500 years ago a man did come out of the desert and he did present a teaching that many people accepted.
The Jewish parent is not telling his or her child that someone presented a teaching to them. The Jewish parent is testifying – this happened to us. WE were taken out ofEgyptwith signs and wonders, WE wandered in the desert for 40 years while God sustained us with open miracles and God spoke to ALL OF US at Sinai. No one told us the story, it happened to us.
If you want to reject our testimony you will be saying that the Jewish nation is the only nation in the world that knowingly passed on a lie to her children. It doesn’t add up.”
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal