Three important ingredients of successful parenting

In this week’s D’var Torah the Chief Rabbi extrapolates three lessons for successful parenting from this week’s Parasha.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis,

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Three important ingredients of successful parenting are highlighted in Parashat Chayei Sarah.

From the name of this sedra we learn so much. It’s intriguing: it’s called Chayei Sarah which means the life of Sarah even though when you. look at it, it’s about the death of Sarah and all that transpired immediately afterwards. In truth though, it is indeed about the life of Sarah because she gained immortality by successfully making an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of many – most importantly, on the life of her son Yitzchak

This is learnt from a fascinating, tiny letter in our parasha: ‘vayavo Avraham lispod l’Sara v’livcota’ – ‘Avraham came in order to eulogise Sarah and to cry for her.’ The kaf in v’livcota is a tiny one and our sages explain that it represents the fact that the mourning which Avraham went through, the extent to which he cried, was less than it might have been because he knew that she was an outstanding role model for their son Yitzchak and she would live on through him.

From here we learn that it is up to parents to be outstanding role model to their children. But we learn another lesson about parenting from our parasha: it’s all about environment. Yitzchak was commanded to never step foot outside of the holy land, he was the one patriarch who was born in Eretz Yisrael and died in Eretz Yisrael. For his parents it was crucially important that he would always live within a holy environment.

Similarly, we as parents need to guarantee that our children – through the shul that they are part of, the school they attend, the chevrah that they mix in – are living in the right environment for the sake of their successful Jewish future.

There is also a third message relating to shidduch: after Sarah’s passing, Avraham went to great efforts to send Eliezer to Mesopotamia and all the details are contained in our parasha. Eliezer prayed, he planned a strategy and he was able to deliver by bringing Rivka, a lady who was filled with yirat shamayim outright fear of God and who was also the epitome of chesed an outstanding person of loving kindness and hence the ideal wife for Yitzchak.

By serving as outstanding role models, by providing a suitable environment for living and educating towards the establishment of successful and healthy home environments, we can help our children, please God, to have wonderful future Jewish lives.

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